Branding is bigger than you think it is :)
So when I say branding, people start picturing typefaces, names, logos, illustrations, 3d renders of reindeers tagging along with Santa on a chilling Christmas afternoon… However, in its essence, branding is an entirely different entity. It is a sophisticated and utterly human concept about attachment, relationships, experience, and all that lily and marshall crap…
Simply put, branding is the careful curation of all your audience's experiences with your brand. It combines art direction, identity system, digital presence, communication strategy, marketing efforts, customer relations, and many other points to enhance and communicate a cohesive identity.
So if it's this expansive, how can we do it? & How does it stay consistent?
Let's start with our beloved branding map and talk about the critical points that allow us to create an effective brand. I'll more or less talk about our perspective behind most of the stages of branding and then end with an explanation of how do we make sure it's sustainable :)
The point of this asset is to identify and visualize the branding process. The branding map does not cover everything, but it clearly shows the main processes. We designed it to:
Outline the fact that everything starts with strategy.
State that strategy lends itself to concept/story, and everything else about the brand is generated from here.
Give prominence to the concept of experience design and intentionally have it include much of the executions we deliver using the identity system.
Ensure that the identity system is not the focal point of the branding process and that experience and communications take just as much attention.
Put the three primary columns within the same hierarchy to help show that they collaborate with each other heavily.
We talk extensively about our client's business to understand its past and its supposed trajectory.
We must understand how we can generate meaningful income for the client and how it all ties back to the initial story behind the brand. Moreover, we try and understand how the services they provide today can expand and fit into the company's overall vision moving forward. This lets us peel back the curtain and plan from the bigger picture.
With this big picture in mind, we identify the core functions that carry their business forward. We then pinpoint the essential experiences we have to optimize to realize the brand's identity. These core experiences vary drastically from company to company. For example, for a boutique burger joint, the most essential experience is the entire process of an order, from the way it's delivered, unboxed, and eaten to the ease of the cleanup process. Each of these points should be designed to accentuate the uniqueness of their burger. So that the overall experience is aligned with the brands' story. This core experience should be analyzed and deconstructed, then the findings should be used as a blueprint when designing every other interaction.
Our goal is to find a core concept that can generate genuine, human reactions from our core audience that can be tied back to the business's services and expand into a living, breathing identity system.
We focus on the essential experience, core psychographic values, and the brand essence when designing the concept. The point here is to hone in on the most potent aspect of the business and "package" it so that we create a unique identity and a story that's worth telling. We need to make sure that the brand can evolve, expand and that the story is strong enough to carry it through. We also need it to be communicable on an abstract level.
Core Identity & Identity System
Contrary to popular belief, the identity system has a straightforward goal. It exists to make sure the identity of our brand can be communicated clearly in any given context. It ensures the story is kept alive and is delivered effectively to the user.
When this goal is internalized, the components we think make up an identity system become flexible. Escaping this predefined notion opens up a new way to express your brand's true potential.
Think about the identity system as a kit to effectively use your brand. It's like the foundation to build your communications, experience design, and marketing. It holds rules and suggestions to ensure your story is told in the right way.
We call each application of the identity system an experience design.
They define micro/macro interactions with your brand and should be used as an opportunity to expand and complete the story.
Depending on how critical to the business they are, some of the experiences impact the marketing and identity system columns. These vital experiences are developed alongside the identity system to ensure optimized delivery. In some rare cases, they can even be the foundation of the identity system.
Communications & Marketing
The basis of this column is external communication. We formulate the marketing and communication strategies alongside the identity system to create a cohesive unit.
Even though all three columns pose different challenges to overcome, they stay fundamentally connected throughout the process, feeding information to one another and influencing the overall brand. What is critical to understand is this interconnected structure allows us to tell the right story to the right people in the right way to ensure the identity of the brand stays intact and gets stronger as time progresses.
We realize the branding process is extensive, and it curates and controls many aspects of the business. To ensure the identity stays consistent as our clients' brands expand and evolve, we provide a small consultancy period as we offboard our clients, but the main trick does not lie there.
Like us, our businesses evolve as they progress; they grow, mature, and go through gradual changes. To ensure a brand stays strong, the critical point is to allow enough freedom within the identity to let it evolve over time. We need to make sure the ratio of familiar/surprising is balanced within our communications and evolution strategy.
The final point I want to leave you with is that you don't need extensive branding when you start your business. Because branding is not this supernatural formula that'll kickstart your business or magically make it work.
Remember, Good branding amplifies excellent business but is not a solution for bad business. If you want to read more about when exactly you need branding. feel free to check out our entry on the topic :) As for the rest, I will be writing about them in detail in future articles. For now, pat yourself on the back for reading all of that, and thank you for sticking with me. Please feel free to hit us up with any questions or comments; we would be thrilled to talk to you :)
Take care ❤️