Updated: Mar 1
Branding is a multi-phased approach, beginning with all-important research and stakeholder engagement. Over a 20-year period of positioning important community and enterprise-level brands, here's a pathway to discovering and creating your own more powerful strategic brand position.
PHASE 1. Discovery & Research Understanding the current and future state you are working in is critical to formulating a solid, strategic direction for positioning your brand. The goal is to understand pain points, the vision, hear ideas, discover needs, and problem-solve to meet those needs. Your first step should be in-depth discovery meetings with key stakeholders to gather intelligence. This is your chance to dig deeper into problems, issues and opportunities that you can use to advance building your differentiated brand position. This work can be done in a combination of one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders and team members, a branding questionnaire for those who cannot accommodate one-on-one interviews, and, later, collaborative group settings in a day-long brand discovery and positioning workshop. Tasks for the branding research phase of development include: a) Identifying your short- and long-term goals. Craft specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals, which drive the objectives of rebranding; b) Identifying and prioritizing your audience. Identify your primary and secondary target audiences and examine their needs, behaviours and attitudes. This is integral to shaping appropriate brand positionality, key messages and marketing communications tools that will communicate and deliver on your promise; c) Conducting a SWOT analysis. Review the organizations strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) in relation to your branding goals and turn your SWOT results into brand recommendations and strategies; d) Defining your branding or rebrand strategy with recommendations. Engage in brand research exercises to develop a matrix that includes: • Differentiation (what sets you apart, where and what is your value?) • Functional benefits (what practical benefits do you provide stakeholders?) • Emotional benefits (how do your stakeholders feel about you now? How do you want them to feel in the future?) • Character (what personality and voice are we trying to project?) • Brand essence (the brand's DNA) di) Existing, relevant business intelligence. This may include the results of any existing market research dii) An internal brand audit. Collect the project's existing brand documentation, such as logo, print and online news mentions, website, brochures, etc diii) A competitive brand audit of top competitors div) Your current key messages. Re-write potential key messages against the findings of your research towards the eventual brand or rebrand Strategic Recommendations Your strategic recommendations summary will identify problems to be overcome, challenges, and opportunities for the newly positioned or repositioned brand. This document will include the items noted above as well as a list of recommended branding strategies to help you reach your positioning goals in meaningful ways. This document will act as the roadmap for the next stage of branding, which is the creative process, where your findings will be brought to life in visuals and language. More on that in our next installment of how to create your strategic brand position. Bonus! UpCity's latest Expert Newsletter about tips for finding a quality creative agency from agency leaders, featuring Michael Donovan, CEO, Donovan & Co. Strategic Communications.