Research and Strategy
Research and strategy is the initial stage to consider when developing a brand. It’s like doing a health check to make sure company branding is moving in the right direction. It can be thought of like a SWOT analysis in marketing. What are the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats of your overall branding. Does it suit your customers? Is it up to date and in keeping with the current business environment? It needs to be done whether building a new company brand from scratch, or trying to improve a well established business. For example, Shell’s logo has had ten revisions since 1900.
Of course, the first stage of research and strategy is the research! It’s important to analyse the landscape, and consumer perception and experience. There are a range of ways to go about this research, and a simple starting place is a survey handed out to consumers, this can usually be done online. To get more in depth answers, focus groups or workshops can be used. Make sure to include employees in your research, especially those that are customer facing. Suggested topics for questions are:
- Brand awareness – Are the general public aware of your brand?
- Brand perception – What do people think of your brand?
- Brand associations – What do people associate your brand with? For example, luxury or cheap?
- Satisfaction – Are consumers satisfied with your brand overall?
- Shopping experience – Did people have a good experience whilst using your site, shop or service?
Next up for the research and strategy stage (you guessed it) is strategy. Now all the research is complete and the data is collected, you need to use it to create a long term plan in order to develop a successful brand or make calculated changes to your current brand. Use the results to refine your business goals to keep on track and bear them in mind when considering all branding aspects. It’s crucial to always keep the long term plan in mind, and not fall into the trap of creating short term changes to get immediate effects, as this could be damaging later on.
Monster know all about conducting the research and strategy building stage, so get in touch with us if you need advice.
Creative and Innovation
It doesn’t matter if you are a small, new business, or a large, well established business. Your brand is important, as it’s how people will remember you, so focus on the creative and innovation aspects to stand out.
What do you need to think about to create a brand?
- Logo – Make it simple and memorable, and then publish it everywhere! On presentations, packaging, adverts, stationary…
- Brand message – What is the brand all about? Make sure all employees know what the key messages of the brand are, and display them on the website too. Keep them short and snappy, and not repetitive.
- Tagline – Have a short tagline to go with the logo. For example, Nike has ‘Just do it’ or Heinz baked beans had ‘Beanz meanz Heinz’.
- Integrate – Branding isn’t just about marketing, it covers all aspects of your company. For example, what your staff wear when meeting customers or clients, the tone used to answer the phone, email signatures…
- Brand standards – This consists of colour schemes, the placement of a logo, presentation templates, typography and more. It makes sure the brand is consistent and can’t be mistaken.
- Individual – Come up with something innovative, i.e. don’t follow the crowd or have something similar to a big brand.
- Scalable (for small brands) – Leave space for your brand to grow. The brand you create on day one might not necessarily still be relevant five years down the line.
- Audience – Who is the audience? Different target audiences will react to different types of branding. Young, forward thinking, tech-savvy people might react better to “clever” branding, whereas people not confident with computers might respond better to basic branding.
The above list might seem like it only applies to new companies, but large, well-recognised need to think about creative and innovation aspects of their brand too, and not be scared to re-brand if necessary.
If you think your business needs to think about creative and innovation factors within branding, Monster are here to help, whether its a re-brand, starting from scratch, or advise in how to improve. Get in touch with us to find out how we can work together.
Implementation and Management
Implementation and management of branding is very important, especially in a corporate environment. After time, money and effort being spent on researching, building a brand strategy, creating and innovating the perfect look, you want it to be consistent throughout the entire company. That’s where brand guidelines come in.
Brand guidelines are a great set of tools for brand implementation and management. They are handed out to anyone using components of your brand, whether they are external companies or internal employees. They are usually published in a book (online or physical) to be handed out as required.
So, what should be included in brand guidelines?
- Colours – Be specific and use hex codes or RGB codes, as “blue” could be interpreted a lot of ways!
- Typography – List the typography and advise what gets used when. One may be used for headings and one for body text.
- Logo design – Include variations of your logo, such as a monotone version or a simplified version.
- Symbols – If you commonly need to use other symbols other than your logo
- Brand tone – Some companies like their messages to come across in a certain tone, such as very informal or humourous.
- Graphics – Like symbols, there may be specific graphics that are commonly used.
- Sizes and positioning – What the standard logo size is and how much space needs to surround the logo.
There area few reasons why brand guidelines are important for implementation and management of a brand, and like mentioned early, the first one is consistency. This really helps customers recognise the brand. It could be a label on a product, a flyer, business cards or a website, but making sure they all have similarities gives the user confidence and looks professional. Also, the bigger the company grows, the more important it is (and potentially harder it is) to keep the brand consistent. They are also useful when being used by external companies like designers. It saves a lot of time giving the designer everything they need to know in one book, rather than constantly going backwards and forwards because the font is wrong or the colour is the wrong shade.
Get in touch with us at Monster if you need help with implementation and management of your brand.
Maintain and Ongoing Redevelopment
Ongoing redevelopment is important for all companies. It’s no good coming up with a great branding concept 30 years ago, but not updating it to suit industry changes and design fashion. Equally, there is no point redeveloping a brand for the sake of it. There are many questions to ask before going ahead with a rebrand, and here are a few examples:
- Why are we rebranding? What is the intended goal of the rebrand, maybe there has been a fall in sales.
- Is the target audience still the same? Over a period of time the target users may change based on fashion, for example, brands that are seen to be environmentally friendly is currently in favour.
- Is the brand telling an up to date story? Business core values might have changed.
- Are the brand associations still correct? Was your brand once associated with luxury goods, but now associated with cheap, unreliable goods?
- Is the rebrand evolutionary or revolutionary? Small changes are evolutionary, whereas huge changes are revolutionary.
- Is this rebrand a long term or short term solution? Is this rebrand going to be how you want to be seen 30 years into the future?
Ongoing redevelopment should regularly be considered by brand or marketing managers to keep a business current. They need to be aware of all the places that your branding exists, from logos to business cards, websites to flyers, stationary to tv adverts. On top of that, they need to think about how long the rebranding will take. It’s likely that the bigger the organisation, the longer the timescale. Managers also need to be wary of the consequences. If customers were attached to your original branding, you may receive some negative feedback on the changes, and potentially income.
Ongoing redevelopment should be publicised once complete, both internally and externally. Keep internal employees up to date by using effective version control, and ensure external stakeholders, such as customers, are aware of the rebrand so it is still recognisable.
If you feel like ongoing redevelopment is a weakness if your company, get in touch with Monster today to find out how we can help.
Version control of branding is extremely important, especially in large corporate businesses. Company branding is constantly evolving, for example, Pepsi have had 11 versions of their logo since 1898. Therefore, it is vital that the new logo and brand are updated across the board, in their case, internationally. This allows for continuity and users can easily recognise the brand anywhere in the world.
These days there are so many media channels, countries and formats that it can be difficult to maintain a constant brand message. A good starting place to keep control over these factors is to build a company intranet or cloud based system. This means everyone in the organisation can access a central system where company branding is stored. It can be ordered in the most logical system for your business, such as by country. However, not all countries may be rolling out a new version of branding at the same time, and that’s where version control comes in. The whole company can see what version of the branding should be used in what country, therefore keeping consistency.
Whether your new branding is evolutionary or revolutionary, always keep old designs archived. Large brands tend to opt for evolutionary, small changes, whereas companies with a falling customer base may opt for a revolutionary tactic. With that in mind, version control is always useful for staff to look back to old designs and see how the brand has evolved, ideally preserving brand integrity. It allows them to see the changes made in each version, and understand why each change was made.
Version control isn’t just there to keep the logo up to date, it can be used for presentation templates, ensuring brochures are up to date, making sure everyone is using the same business cards, keeping the colour scheme and font continuous on all communications and much more.
In the long run, effective brand version control saves a lot of time for creative teams and designers. If your business needs help creating a system to stay on top of version control, get in touch with Monster to find out how we can help.