There’s the Easy Way and There’s the Right Way to Brand a Business
How to Brand or Re-brand Your Business the Right Way
The first meetings are almost always the same. After the polite introductions and small talk I simply ask, “Tell me, what do you do?”
The answer starts out with gusto because all my clients are passionate about the work they do. Before long, we are drowning in a sea of information. This is understandable. In an attempt to simplify all that they do AND include all that they do, their energy overtakes their message. As they share stories, metaphors, tangents, uniqueness, facts, opinions, visions and hopes, they get tangled and confused. They begin to lose track of the question they were answering.
They look for signs that I’m following, but see an expressionless face that’s not giving them any feedback. I’m not reacting because I’m listening intently and taking it all in. They wind down their explanation with a grimace and hopeful eyes.
This introduction to their work has taken anywhere from fifteen minutes to three hours. Yes. The current record is three hours. By the end, the speaker is more confused, maybe even discouraged. But, I’m overjoyed. Finally, some feedback. I spring back to life and tell them that they’re in the perfect spot!
The raw material is there. They just need an outside perspective from a process expert to take the ideas, stories, experience, uniqueness, hopes, visions, facts and opinions and distill them into a simple brand essence -- a sentence that will powerfully summarize what their brand is.
You need someone who can help you see who you are.
When we find that essence, I’m reminded why I do the work I do. I’ve witnessed the moment a CEO falls in love with their brand and business again. I’ve seen entrepreneurs weep tears of joy.
They see we’ve captured who they are.
We’ve cracked the code on their brilliance and their uniqueness and can express it authentically and succinctly. Both groups experience a surge of confidence and renewed energy to build their businesses and grow their legacies.
So, what does it look like to get there?
It takes time and commitment to the process. You should expect moments where you never think the brand can possibly come together and moments of insight. Have faith that the right answer will emerge when it’s supposed to and push through the doubt that you’ll ever get there.
All strategic processes have this in common. You figure out where you want to go, assess where you are and create a plan to get there. With over a decade of branding experience, here’s what I’ve developed into a successful branding process–I call it The Legacy Effect®
Step 1: Explore and Expand— The first step should be a period of discovery where you look inward. Examine your company’s history, products and services, past marketing messages, current positioning, the mission, the vision and the values. Uncover past stories, successes, learning and landmarks. Conduct research to see what people say about you. What are some uniqueness that you could amplify and use to set your business apart. Take inventory of your strengths that you can build upon. Clarify your “why” and imagine the big picture, long-term view for you, your clients and your business. In this phase, no idea is too crazy and there’s no such thing as too much information.
As you can see, there is a lot of ground to cover in this phase. This is the part of the project that contains all of the brainstorming and idea generation. Think quantity not quality. This is the time to get curious about possibilities and have fun visioning the future.
Step 2: Distill and Define— Next, take the inputs and information, and begin to look for common threads and themes that emerge. This is where you begin to look outward at the competitive landscape to find opportunities to stand out. Look for unmet needs or ways that competitors do things, and find a way to switch things up. Your uniqueness, values and brand voice begin to emerge.
In this phase, you should become clear on your brand’s essence, the competitive landscape, your zone of genius, the products and services you offer, your clients, messaging, and marketing channels. You should be able to clearly and confidently communicate what you do and who you serve. The final output of this phase is a brand strategy plan that includes all of the above and gives you a roadmap to put your brand into action.
Step 3: Design and Deliver— The final step is to take your roadmap and bring your brand to life in all your touchpoints. This includes, but isn’t limited to, the following:
- Web copy
- Brand book
- Roll-out plan
- Communication strategy and protocol
- Facilitation of all-hands meeting
- Touchpoint audit and plan
- Branded visual elements
- Branded collateral
- Business cards
- Marketing plan
- Customer journey and experience
- Marketing collateral
- PPT Templates
- Interior design concepts
One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing a branding partner is that this process should be a co-creation. It’s tempting to allow a professional to create a brand and strategy that looks polished and beautiful and encompasses a winning strategy. The problem with that is that it might not necessarily reflect you and your business. You know your business and raison d'être better than anyone and that’s what you want captured. Your branding expert should be a partner who takes the information you provide and makes sense of it while suggesting some best-practices.
A “perfect” brand and strategy will be difficult to execute if it’s not who you are.
Your brand should make you beam with pride. You should love it. It should feel like you. It should clearly communicate all the brilliant ideas you had floating in your head. It should feel easy to grow your business and brand from a foundation that’s aligned with you.
It’s easy to see how branding can be “nebulous” or downright overwhelming. But because your brand is the DNA of your business, you constantly need to monitor, protect and revamp your brand if necessary.
If you have an inkling that something might be off with your brand, there are steps you can take on your own to see whether the brand is on track or needs improvement. Then, after doing some investigation on your own, it might be time to call in a professional. If you’re not sure where to start or if you want to check on the health of your brand, click here for a DIY Brand Audit.
It is much easier to have somebody from the outside help you through the rebranding process, because an outsider not only specializes in rebranding but also lets you keep your business moving ahead. Need help figuring out if it’s time for you or your company to rebrand? Click here.