Key tips to manage the brand development process
Tip 1 – Flex the process to fit your business
And not the other way around.
Many agencies and consultancies make great claims about being the experts in branding.
However, in our experience, many of them develop a standardised approach to the brand development process. They will then force fit it on to all of their client’s businesses.
We don’t recommend this approach. What works on one brand or in one industry will not always transfer to another brand or industry. Look for agility around how the process will be used.
Bigger agencies will bring teams of consultants with the fees to match to craft your brand. If you are a huge global organisation, this brand work can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, as was the case with Diageo. The Diageo name was created from the Latin for ‘day’ and the Greek for ‘world’ and is now embedded in the company’s brand identity. But at the time, it received a lot of mocking press coverage for the expense in creating the name.
Our experience is that involving more people and spending more money don’t always lead to better results.
You have to find brand experts who are flexible enough to adapt to you and your business.
Ask them questions to make sure they can tailor their approach to suit your needs. Do they feel engaged and interested in you and your brand? Do you feel they have put in the effort to understand the challenges in your category?
When a brand is well-created it will become one of the most valuable assets in your business. So it is worth the effort to search for the branding expert who will be the right fit for your business.
Tip 2 – Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer
While consumers choose brands, they do so because of what the brands can do for them. And in most categories, they are faced with a lot of choice.
As you build your brand, you should consistently have the consumers in mind. What is it that you uniquely can do for them? What is it you can do that will make you meaningful and distinctive? Why would consumers care about your positioning or your brand assets?
If you can keep this consumer mind-set, it will stop you falling down the rabbit-hole that many businesses fall into when they try to create a brand.
Agencies can often have an insular view of the world. There can often be a lot of jargon and psycho-babble in what they say. While some of this may be helpful, it should not actually be what the consumer ever sees.
Consumers look for the benefit that your brand is able to offer them. As has been classically pointed out by Theodore Levitt, “consumers don’t want quarter-inch drills, they want quarter-inch holes”.
Keep this in mind, so that you don’t get too hung up on what you or your agency want for your brand and lose sight of what the consumer wants.
Tip 3 – Have a clear brand owner
Our final tip is a much more pragmatic one. As you start to develop brand assets beyond the brand name and purpose, the need for someone to own decisions about the brand becomes clear.
There is a lot of decision making needed to develop brand assets.
Is this shade of blue more appealing than that one? Should the logo be in a circle or a square?
Now, these sorts of decisions should be tested with market research. But ultimately, there should be a ‘brand owner’ who makes the final decision.
In bigger businesses this might be a brand manager or marketing manager. In smaller businesses it is often the owner or founder of the business. But someone has to be responsible for ensuring the consistency of the brand. To ‘own’ the brand.
This role becomes especially important when you start to work on the brand identity.
We’ve had too many hours wasted in the past arguing the difference between very similar sounding words. Is the brand ‘playful’ or ‘mischievous’? Is the brand ‘clever’ or ‘considered’? These sorts of semantic arguments happen all the time in the brand development process. But they slow the process down, and create frustration and disputes.
This ownership and accountability when you have a brand owner helps speed up the decision making process. And it helps to have someone to resolve disputes and issues. We highly recommend this role is identified and made clear to everyone at the start of the brand development process.