If you're wondering what brand strategy is or why brand identity is important in today's world, let me ask you to stop whatever else you're doing for a moment and think on something.
First, think of a company that makes carbonated soft drinks. Next, think of a company that makes high-end smartphones and computing devices. And finally, think of a performance-focussed sports apparel company.
If the first companies that spring to mind were Coca-Cola, Apple, and Nike, then the brand strategists at those companies would be delighted to know that all their efforts have paid off because they now occupy an unquestionably distinct space in your mind.
That, dear reader, is what brand strategy is all about. Carving out a space in the minds of customers.
A lot of people confuse a logo with a brand. But that's not quite it. A logo is a part of a brand identity, but it's not solely that. Brand strategist and designer Marty Neumeier defines brand as "A person's gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It's not what YOU [the company] say it is. It's what THEY [the customers] say it is."
You see, brand strategy is a way to flag to customers that the brand in question is worthy of taking up space in their over-stimulated brains. But not just any brand will survive the filter mechanisms put in place by our brains. No, it needs to be a differentiated brand in order to cut through all the noise of the increasingly crowded marketplace we find ourselves in.
If we're hoping to achieve differentiation — and I'm not talking about the maths equation here — we need to take a step back from logos and brand identity to examine brand strategy and positioning.
Brand strategy examines the 'white ocean space' in a given market and plots a course in that direction so a brand can stand out from the competition and earn a brand leadership position in a customer's mind, like the Coca-Colas, Apples, and Nikes of the world.
According to Forbes, by presenting a brand consistently across all platforms, companies can increase revenue by up to 23%. That makes an incredibly strong business case for investing in brand strategy and brand identity.
Now, you might be thinking 'What does earning a brand leadership position do for me and my company?' Well the goal of branding, Neumeier states, is to "delight customers so that MORE people buy MORE things for MORE years at a HIGHER price." That sounds like a pretty worthwhile goal, right?
If we look at Mailchimp's brand identity system, for instance, it's clear the brand is aiming to carve out a distinct spot with its target audience of marketers and spark joy.
While a large portion of technology brands aiming to inspire confidence will choose a blue colour palette accompanied by formal, serious, and safe language (think IBM, Visa, FaceBook, SendInBlue), Mailchimp dares to stand out from the crowd.
It does this with an instantly recognisable cheery yellow as the Mailchimp brand colour, playful copywriting, quirky illustrations and the cheeky monkey the brand employs as their mascot, Freddie.
Even the "Page not found" 404 page for the website is playful with Mailchimp boldly declaring: "We lost this page. We searched high and low but couldn't find what you're looking for. Let's find a better place for you to go."
The sum of all of these parts leads marketers to feel that Mailchimp is a fun, light-hearted, and creative tool for businesses looking to connect with customers via email, ads and more. It leaves a lasting impression that for marketers looking to engage & inspire their clients, Mailchimp is the platform of choice.
While brand strategy is the plan that drives a business, launching products, uniting teams and helping them to execute on a shared vision, brand identity comprises the visual and experiential touchpoints of a brand. That includes the logo, colour palette, typography, visual identity systems, illustration, photography, animation, stationery, packaging, and so on.
Each of these brand identity touchpoints play a part in reinforcing or contradicting that gut feeling that a customer has about a brand. A good brand identity system will be built on the foundation of a strong brand strategy and refer back to it when considering each potential touchpoint.
Doing this consistently will help companies ensure that more customers get the intended gut feeling about a brand and buy more things for more years at a higher price. According to Forbes, by presenting a brand consistently across all platforms, companies can increase revenue by up to 23%. That makes an incredibly strong business case for investing in brand strategy and brand identity.
Apart from the visual elements mentioned above, brand identity design also includes the written, spoken or auditory communication of a brand like a brand's name, tone of voice, copywriting, website template, social media channels, voicemail recordings, customer support greetings, and audio branding to highlight just a small few.
Even something as seemingly innocuous as the call to action button text on a website or app can impact a customer's gut feeling about a brand.
The devil really is in the details when it comes to branding, which is why you might want to consider working with a detail-oriented consultant on brand strategy & brand identity design like myself to launch your brand.
If you want to build a differentiated brand that helps you get more customers to buy more things for more years at higher prices, get in touch on the contact page.