Start with the vision, apply values, create a visual identity
Merriam-Webster defines branding as “the promoting of a product or service by identifying with a particular brand.” While a logo may give us a visual shortcut to recognize a brand, it is not what causes an emotional reaction, necessary for connection, to the brand.
Branding is everything a company says, does, and stands for. A logo and visual identity are visual representations of that and should reinforce the personality of the company as defined by what they say, do, and stand for. Codifying a brand to both understand it and effectively communicate it can be tough from the inside. Simon Sinek, author of “Start with Why” notes that trust and loyalty are feelings. Feelings originate in the limbic brain which has no capacity for language.
Working with an experienced brand expert can help your company overcome this hurdle to describe and codify your brand, which will then lead to creating your visual identity and a strongly representative logo.
Statement defining your “why.” Why does your company exist? And how do you hope to contribute to the world?
How do your customers perceive you?
Where have you been? What do you already have?
How do you perceive your company?
Key traits of who you talk to when you say “customer”.
The words, tone and inflection your company uses to speak.
Reference document of the brand and the visual identity.
Most immediate visual reference to the company.
Complements the logo to speak to all of the items below.
A full branding process consists of three stages
Company interviews: How do you perceive your company?
Customer research: How do your customers perceive you
Competitive landscape review: What are your competitors projecting in customer-facing materials?
Asset review: What marketing assets and materials do you already have?
Customer archetypes or personas: Traits and messaging for key customer types, rarely more than four.
Mission: How are you currently working to fulfill your vision? A mission can and should change once you meet goals.
Brand values: Three to five key words that describe what your brand holds most dear. Values that will act as guiding stars in decision making.
Competitive strengths: Unique strengths of your organization, not shared by competitors.
Value propositions: Communicate your unique strengths in terms your key personas will embrace.
Visualize and reinforce
Logo: Most immediate and recognizable reference to your brand.
Visual identity: How do you consistently visually represent your brand across all mediums? A good visual system will be complete enough to create a unified system across all media, while being nimble enough to work with as yet unexplored media.
Style guide: Reference document of your brand and visual identity. Ensures multiple departments, new hires, and external vendors are all working from the same “playbook.”
Website: Most visited and referenced form of forward-facing materials. Your hub for all things digital.
Social media, collateral, PR, the customer experience, conferences, webinars, video, podcasts, presentations, etc. all work to add and reinforce your brand when done right.