5 standard foundations for creating an effective branding strategy in 2022.
“Branding is the ultimate matchmaker that brings together companies with the right audience”
What is Branding in the first place?
Branding is the starting point for any business to succeed. Without strong branding, your company is left to guessing and a poor understanding. Branding is much more than a logo and a tagline, it is your company’s tone of voice and behaviour. More practically, Branding is a system or kit made of parts; all designed to create immediate recognition of the brand, connect with the targeted audience; influence public perception about the brand’s unique selling position, and express the spirit of the brand’s organisation and culture.
In a nutshell, branding sets a company’s product, or service, ahead of the competition.
So, what are the five foundation stones that you need to lay to create an effective branding strategy in 2022?
First, you need to have a clear understanding of who your target audience is. What are their wants and needs? What motivates them? Once you understand your target audience, you can begin to craft a message that resonates with them.
Second, you need to choose the right channels through which to reach your target audience. This may include traditional channels such as television and print, or newer channels such as social media and online advertising.
Third, you need to create a memorable brand name and logo that will help your business to stand out from the crowd.
Fourth, you need to deliver on your brand promise. If you say that you’re going to provide great customer service, then make sure that you do.
Finally, you need to track your results and continually adjust your strategy based on what’s working and what’s not. By following these five foundations, you’ll be well on your way to creating an effective branding strategy for 2022 and beyond.
1) Branding must be based on market research and focus on your audience.
First, you need to have a clear understanding of who your target audience is. What are their needs and wants? What motivates them? How is it evolving?
Market research is an essential marketing tool to define your target audience and craft a message that resonates with them. Most importantly, however, it is to dive into your target audience’s pain points and find out what is the mindset that influences their decision-making process. Consumer behaviour is a branch of psychology that represent essential knowledge to branding specialist – to develop communication strategies that are rooted within data and its interpretation.
A branding team (like ours at Adcraft Studio) make it a priority to undergo market studies, competitor analysis and industry reports.
Disposing of advanced knowledge and information about the organisation’s environment, the competition and, most importantly, the audience’s psychology is absolute to working on the branding identity itself.
2) Branding must be fluid and responsive
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever for brands to be responsive. That means being quick to adapt to changes in the market, whether it’s a new trend, a change in consumer behaviour or a change in the media platform’s asset.
Responsive branding is all about integration within a constantly evolving digital landscape and beyond. As Adcraft’s Art Director, my approach to any branding project considers thoroughly how the design will function both digitally and environmentally. The fact that we live in a digital era, does not exempt us designers to avoid what happens outside of a screen. Brand Design must be impactful whilst organically functional. Meaning it must be transferable across different media — which may also include exposure in public spaces such as a lobby — responsively adapting to each format. For instance, a very complicated and detailed logo might perform well when displayed in a large format but may lose completely its communicability when shown small (for instance as an app icon on a mobile phone).
Fluidity is a must for contemporary branding. The traditional model of branding, with its emphasis on fixed logos, unchanging messages, and mindless repetition is no longer relevant. Instead, brands must be able to adapt their visual identity and messaging to different audience segments and a complex panorama of platforms and formats. This doesn’t mean that brands should abandon all sense of stability— the beauty of a fluid branding is that a company becomes recognisable even from a detail, such as a colour scheme, a title or a graphic element. However, it does require a well-though system that allows for elasticity and resilience. Fluidity after all means considering all the potential situations and finding a working solution that does not compromise effectiveness or recognisability.
Remember that your organisation’s branding is your most efficient ambassador: as it will shape your audience’s perception of what you do and how you do it. You can’t leave that to inconsistency or a lack of transferability.
3) Branding must bring clarity to the message
To an extent, a brand designer operates like a doctor. I am often asked to give a diagnosis of an issue within organisations. This issue is most likely a lack of clarity about the organisation’s identity and its strengths within the market, then go through a process of research that is not only outwards but also inwards. Market research is just the starting point of branding.
Our experience tells us that to create a lasting, performative identity, you must also dig deeper.
We ultimately want to genuinely understand what the organisation does, what vision the people internally have, and to what degree of conformity. We often notice a certain amount of inconsistency in the way the organisation’s culture is perceived in the first place. Our job is, however, to bring clarity to it. Only from a crystal clear vision, a crystal clear communication can be generated. Without clarity, there is no message, and therefore no voice;
4) Branding includes the bigger picture
When we deal with smaller businesses or start-up organisations, we often find that our team needs to suggest expanding the vision to be more forward-thinking. Branding Design is not a short-term game. It is shaping a bigger picture for your company. If your branding is short-legged it won’t catch up with the growth marathon you are running. Branding design also has to define and communicate the vision, and therefore the wanted future, of the organisation.
5) Branding must be attractive
Do you know the difference between something legible and readable? Legible means that something is clear enough to read and understand; readable means that is inviting, interesting and leaves you wanting more; ultimately, readable means attractive (and therefore memorable).
Branding needs to be both legible and readable. That is an analogy not only referring to typography but the overall company’s communication. We live in a society where attention is exchanged at a high price and the currency is the appeal. For as much as branding needs to be genuine, the presentation of it must be appealing to your target audience to be seen in the first place.
Create a system for consistency
Why consistency is a foundation of branding? Because without consistency there is no recognisability.
Consistency is the agreement and harmony of the kit of parts to the whole branding concept. It is this agreement and predictability to give the brand authority and trustworthiness.
Large organisations may have more means to maintain this consistency. We’ve seen that branding design is very rarely executed by the same person. For this reason, a brand specialist designs a system to be managed homogeneously by an in-house art department, advertising agencies as well as clients themselves.
The question is: how do you create a system that helps maintain consistency? The key, of course, is to reduce complexity. The more complex and diversified the design, the more it is challenging to maintain consistency across the different platforms. Not to mention that organisations often go through structural changes — expansions, mergers, new management, new products, other markets and so on. Therefore, to maintain a recognisable identity even after a Business has evolved, Branding needs to be versatile.
A branding kit of parts must include graphic language that you’re using as an identifier — as a vector to convey information and your Business’s quality. It needs to be simple because it requires functionality in every context —small, large, digital or analogical – architectural even, in some cases.
It is not only about good design skills; a Branding System must interact (and integrate) within all aspects of the organisation and its marketing strategy beyond aesthetics alone. The main criteria must be recognisability and communication because even if you need to apply this system to a new product or a new affiliate company, with slight changes, you will have a guideline to know what belongs and what does not.
Most importantly, when we create a Visual Identity, we show our clients the process of creating a visual statement, so they can truly own it – and it is not just something passive that has happened without their input or control. Without owning your identity, there is very little room for growth.
The Case Study
When an NDIS organisation hired our firm for a rebranding that would include different sub-brands and services, in a way that was homogenous and recognisable, we, first of all, focused on understanding the Australian NDIS industry graphic language and references. Secondly, we analysed competitors to see where we could find a unique slant. Most importantly, we interviewed the board of the organisation to determine objectives and directions, as well as other staff members, to best understand the unique selling point. Ultimately, we research the target audience, with the specific intention to understand the decision-making process involved in choosing a certain NDIS provider over another.
Some of the insights we gained
- There was a lack of visual distinctiveness among the NDIS providers of similar capacity;
- We defined the core audience to be wanting care services not only professional but also personalised and kind towards people’s diversity and uniqueness.
- Professionalism is the main factor in choosing an NDIS provider, but the second, to it there is approachability;
- For the client’s business name, it was decided to include the word “Core” because the core is what gives stability, support and therefore strength;
- We established with the client that we needed to communicate a quirky identity, yet corporate, bold but also approachable;
- An essential requirement was to ensure that the branding was recognisable across the different sub-brands and formats.
- We created an impactful, memorable and distinctive graphic language based on unique typography and a quirky, bold colour palette;
- We created a responsive Logo Mark with a simple, emblematic icon, that applied to all contexts – printed or displayed, small or large, black and white or coloured;
- We created a visual identity made of recognisable and iconic graphic elements that communicate approachability whilst maintaining a corporate look;
- We created a Branding Guidelines manual where we set
- The organisation’s identity statement;
- The tone of voice for customer service, social media and copywriting;
- The art direction for all the visuals (including photography);
- We demonstrate through mockups how to translate the branding across all the organisation’s facets: from document design to merchandising;
- We collected all the information needed to execute the branding: outline of principles to follow, colour palette details for screen and print, typography hierarchy and functions;
- We set web design and landing pages direction for usability and clarity of the message;
- We gave indications for traditional advertising (such as billboards) and digital advertising (such as Google Ads);
Most of all, as you can appreciate in the photos displayed in this article, we created a branding that is liquid and easy to transfer across a variety of contexts – with a good degree of freedom on the executives’ side – while maintaining crystal clear recognisability.
Consider that in the public perception, nurtured within the modern society, consistency and predictability is synonymous with trustworthiness.
When it’s time for your organisation to hire a professional, the Branding guidelines you are given must be also feasible to be executed and extended.
Should I consider rebranding?
If you ever had a thought about updating your Branding, it is probably because you are finding some incongruity between the type of customers you wish to attract and the one you currently have – or you are receiving negative feedback.
At the end of the day, the main purpose of branding is to be the perfect matchmaker between your company and your ideal customers – through effective positioning and communication.
So, should you consider rebranding? The truth is that only a trusted Branding specialist can look at your specific case and give you an informed answer.
However, as an Art Director, I can suggest you some questions that might prompt you some useful insights:
- Is my current, typical clientele expecting the prices and quotes I’m offering?
- Am I positioned correctly in the market, about where I want to be?
- Am I reaching out to my ideal audience?
- Is my audience showing signs of appreciation towards my company’s communication?
- Is my audience showing to have grasped the benefits of my product or service?
- Is my team struggling to produce visual and verbal content for my organisation?
- Is information, both internal and external, communicated clearly and effectively?
- Is my brand distinctive and memorable?
- Is it reasonably feasible to execute my branding across different contexts?
- Can my clients describe my brand in three easy words?
If the answers to some of these questions are making you more and more prone to consider re-branding, the good news is that not always a re-branding needs to be radical.
At Adcraft, we are brand marketers who enhance and improve communication without upsetting your organisation, and its recurrent clientele.
For a free audit of your branding, and if you find our portfolio of projects appealing, you are welcome to schedule an online meeting with one of our branding specialists. It cost you nothing and it is only a click away.