Branding is a bit of a mystery for many small to mid-market (SMB) companies. There are many opinions and methods as to how best approach it.
Top creative agencies have their own “proprietary” methods for crafting a brand strategy. They have to, in order to position themselves against competing agencies. They use cool-looking graphics: circles, triangles, and flow charts to illustrate attributes, values, personality traits, and promises.
Many companies never bother to craft a brand strategy, instead allowing the market to brand them, for better or worse. Deep down, marketers know they should be putting more effort into branding, but many don’t know where to start.
The good news is, if you were to break down most agencies’ proprietary branding methods, you’d find many similarities.
If you’re one of the 90% of companies that don’t have the budget to hire top agency talent for your branding, don’t worry; with a little elbow grease and a good plan you can create your own brand strategy. Solving the branding black box just takes a little learning and a strong commitment.
The key to your entire brand strategy is your brand architecture. Your brand architecture sets the foundation for all the other components of your brand, and aligns your brand personality traits, brand means, brand messaging, brand promise, brand story and your visual and operational requirements into a single unified structure.
Brands play on our emotions, so your brand architecture should uncover the specific emotions around which you might build your brand.
To create your brand architecture, follow this five-step process:
1. Start by listing each of your product/service features. Then, list the benefits of each.
2. Now focus on the benefits. For each one, determine whether it’s functional or emotional.
3. Next, review each feature and benefit individually, and determine its level of importance to the market. Assign each to one of three categories:
4. Now, rank your features and benefits. Brands play on our emotions—even B2B brands. The strongest brands are built around emotional benefits. Use this ranking system:
5. Few brand architectures are built around features, but by including them in the rankings, we emphasize the importance of focusing on benefits and, more specifically, emotional benefits that cause people to desire your offering on a visceral level. The final step is to identify the emotional benefits that will become the core of your brand strategy.
Carefully consider the functional or emotional benefits you select for your brand architecture. You’ll spend a lot of resources to convey these to the marketplace, so test them among your team and your market if you’re unsure.
After you’ve decided on your brand architecture, you can begin thinking about the other components of your brand strategy: your brand personality traits, your means, your promise, your story, and your visual and operational requirements.
Check out our comprehensive brand strategy tookit if you’d like more detailed guidance.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR YOUR BRAND ARCHITECTURE PROJECT