Often, when new clients approach me it is because either they are a start-up and think they first need a logo to help them market. Or their existing business is struggling and their goal is to get a social marketing campaign to increase sales. These goals are compelling reasons to consider, however a successful, visual of your business or a great campaign isn’t going to increase your prospects /customers. I never encountered a business goal that could be achieved by a new logo or campaign alone. Not as a sole course of action. When businesses hold onto the misconception that visual design or marketing alone is their brand, they’re heading for unnecessary expense, dead-ends, and unfulfilled expectations.
Strategy precedes marketing. Marketing in the absence of strategy is not marketing; it’s just an expensive blunder.
Brand Strategy is the starting point for effective marketing. No matter what you’re selling, you need to start with your brand strategy first. Having a brand strategy means you have expressed your core values, analyzed the competition, determined what makes your service or product unique, defined your target audience and identified how your product or service will solve your target audience’s problems better than anything or anyone else.
Your brand strategy is what gets consumer recognition, not your logo. And a marketing campaign without strategy could be sending mixed messages, the wrong message or no message at all.
Branding is not a one step, do it yourself process. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a brand strategy, if there was then every business would input in their information and be the next Apple.
The truth is there is a lot of "creativity" involved in crafting a truly unique winning brand strategy. So this is where you should invest in your brand and hire a professional brander. As creative professionals we are skilled at connecting the dots, creating the concept, mapping the framework and providing plan guidelines for all your internal and external brand executions across all touch points. All of which will increase your chances of success. As the old saying goes; “If you buy quality, you only cry once". Having a strategic thinker on your side to craft your brand strategy will save you time and money as your brand strategy becomes your touch point for all your marketing, so you can evaluate each effort by asking “does this reflect my brand strategy, or is it missing the mark”?
Brand Identity is the visible part of your brand strategy. Done right, your brand strategy will inform your visual brand development. These visible elements of a brand (such as colors, fonts, logo), are designed together to identify and distinguish the brand in the consumers mind.
Your logo is the identifier and the most visual mark of your brand. And while a logo itself is not your brand, if it is thoughtfully conceived and consistently implemented, it will be the (shorthand) mark for your brand strategy.
Marketing is the action of promoting and selling your products or services. Therefore, it makes sense that the starting point for effective marketing is your brand strategy. You develop your brand marketing—website, businesses cards, social media channels, campaigns —only after your brand strategy has been developed and made visual through the design of your brand identity.
The key to successful marketing communication is when your brand strategy, brand identity and brand marketing are working together to give your target audience a smooth, seamless and rewarding experience from first consideration of your brand through purchase.
The best example I can give you is the Nike brand. Nike’s logo is regarded as one of the greatest and most popular logos in history. But Nikes “swoosh” mark would never have succeeded without its brand strategy, and the “Just do it!” tagline backing it up. Nike brand strategy refined them as an athletic and fitness company and not just another shoe company. Their clearly stated belief, that “if you have a body, you are an athlete” is what got consumer recognition. And Nike’s mission statement "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” is what distinguishes the brand. By the way, that campaign launched in 1988 and is in the consumers mind even today.
When thinking of how to survive now and succeed in the long haul, nothing is going to get you noticed faster or keep you in the customers mind longer than branding.
Do you have a brand strategy or is your marketing missing the mark?
I am a strong believer that a brand strategy should be intrinsically linked with all your marketing activities to generate awareness, build loyalty and drive sales. Through strategic branding, I’ve helped a lot of people build or grow their small businesses, launch products, define or expand markets, get social, get seen, and gain success.