A Strong, Integrated Brand Usually Comes from Savvy Sequencing.

I’ve discovered two characteristics driving many of the entrepreneurs I’ve served: possessiveness and impatience. Together they may be valuable in creating energy to get the idea rolling. It’s the idea that success loves speed. But that rush to market mentality can also sabotage a fledgling brand before it takes wing,

Quite often a startup will have been named even before a business model and plan have been created. This impatience may well result in the need to rebrand a company or product in a year or two because the first branding decisions were made with little understanding of markets, competition, consumer trends, and, yes, good branding practices. But these are just the first and most obvious problems.

Correct sequencing saves time and money

The order in which many entrepreneurs tackle the elements of branding can cause major brand weakness, not to mention cause them to waste time and money getting to market, and to profitability.

They are out of sequence. Many have picked a name and registered it even before they’ve written a mission statement. They’ve written a tagline before they’ve identified target markets. They’ve developed a brand story after all the obvious elements are created and in use. And they’ll not have provided writers and designers with a brand platform on which the creative structure is to be solidly and consistently built.

First thing first should be the rule

There is a sequence to developing a brand (or a corporate identity) just as there is to developing the business itself. When you get things out of sequence you may find you need to start over which is expensive and time-consuming, or even worse, you live with a brand with weak elements that become more burdensome as time goes by.
A Typical Sequence for a Solid Brand
A Brand Development Diagram Demonstrating Elements and Sequence of a Successful Brand Launch

 

I suggest anyone starting a business or introducing a new product follow the simple process outlined below. It looks long, involved and too detailed for your typical entrepreneur, but it’s just putting the right foot forward, then the left foot and so on until an integrated and unique brand emerges. Here goes:

* Write your vision statement
* Write your mission statement
* Describe the business model you are planning to implement
* Write down the goals of the business or product
* Identify the market segments you will serve
* Identify the product category in which you will compete
* Identify and assess your major competitors
* Identify and develop your differentiator (Unique Value Proposition)
* If a new product for an existing company, identify how the new product “fits” in the scheme of offerings.
* Write your brand platform (Essentially info presented above)
* Append your brand platform to your strategic plan

At this point, you may want to consider bringing in a branding consultant to help you fashion the branding platform. He or she should be able to translate and integrate the vision, mission, goals, business model, and the information concerning markets, product categories and competition into a brand platform.

Now start creating branding elements

Upon completion of the business plan, and not before, you can begin to think of names, logos, taglines, color palettes, etc. Then, the process of branding the business or product can begin.

* Create brand story
* Create branding creed (principles by which you do business)
* Generate name candidates
* Screen name for availability, obscenity and adverse connotations
* Select three to five name candidates
* Develop name preference questionnaire
* Survey members of relevant market segments
* Select and register name

Once the name is selected, other branding elements can initiated, probably in the order below:

* Determine if a tagline needs to amplify the name.
* If so, generate tagline candidates
* Select several candidates for evaluation by market segment members
* Select final tagline.
* Bring in graphic designer with branding experience
* Create logo candidates and color palette
* Select several candidates for evaluation by Market segment members
* Select a final logo design

At this point, materials can begin to be prepared for use in soliciting investors/bankers/partners. But there is more to do as outlined below.

* Document color palette, type fonts, illustrative styles and other visual elements of the brand
* If audio signature is desired, brainstorm and then create appropriate sounds, music, voice using professional talent
* Select several candidates for evaluation by Market segment members
* If a video/flash signature is desired, brainstorm and them create appropriate clips, commercials, presentations using professional talent
* If a web site is desired, brainstorm and then create your website and/or your blog using professional talent
* If packaging, signage, marketing materials are required, brainstorm and then create the required materials using professional talent

Once developed, provide for consistent usage

There may be additional items and requirements to address. There certainly will be as time passes. But for a business or product launch, the materials above will suffice. There is one more vitally important component of the branding process that needs to be developed at this point:

* Develop a Brand Style Guide/manual.
* Hold meeting(s) with employees, and possibly supply chain members, to provide them an understanding of the brand and their part in communicating and representing the brand
* Distribute the Brand Style Guide to all suppliers, distributors and employees who will be producing materials, or in any way representing the “brand”
* Post the Brand Style Guide on the Internet, along with logos for suppliers to access.

So there’s a sequence that builds from idea through launch of a potentially strong brand whose elements are integrated and meaningful. There may be variations on this theme, but for an entrepreneur beginning the branding process, the basics are outlined here. So even if you don’t use it as your guideline, at least read it one more time.

If you feel you need help, please contact me. Signature Strategies provides an hour’s free telephone consultation just by asking for it on the contact form you’ll find here.

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