Branding Process — Brand Strategy

Through this series of posts I will attempt to de-myth the branding process by explaining our approach and process in depth.

1. Brand Strategy
2. Visual Identity
3. Project Delivery

The second post in the series takes a deep dive into brand strategy.


Phase 1. Brand Strategy

Brand strategy is an important stage of any scale of branding project. In order to correctly position, and therefore create a brand, we need to understand as much as we can about the company, service or product.

The first part of the branding process is to build out a design brief for the project. Research is taken through a variety of ways. We will then work through a series of interviews with key business stakeholders, and build out a strategy document, so we can understand where the company sits in the market, it’s competitors and audience so we can position the brand and develop it’s visual personality and tone-of-voice.

Brand Strategy Workshop

During informal interviews with key stakeholders of the brand, we get to know the company and begin to build out our design brief. We frame the interviews through six key areas including:

1. Vision & mission
2. Brand DNA
3. Values
4. Audience
5. Personality
6. Competitors

1. Vision & mission

A brand is a story told consistently over time
—Michael Beirut

What is in your future?
—During the first part of the workshop we will first consider what the future will look like for your business.

What are your goals for the next 5, 10, 15, 20+ years?
—We will then be more precise and create a roadmap for the coming years. We will understand what products or services might be added and how the company will evolve.

2. Brand DNA

People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.
—Simon Sinek

To understand the brands purpose we need to get to the ‘why’ behind it. We run dissect three questions.


What are you offering?
—This is a simple, direct statement about what you are offering the world. Example: ‘We are nanofibre product specialists’

How are you unique?
—What’s our secret sauce? What sets us apart from the competition? Example: “Made with 100% natural ingredients”

Why do you exist?
—To reach the purpose of your brand, we ask aside from money, what is your reason for being?

3. Values

What are your three most important brand values?
—Don’t fall into the trap of clichés, (‘authentic’!) we find something unique for your brand.

4. Audience

Who are your three key audiences?
—Local/ global/ young/ high-end we need to define exactly who your audiences are.

5. Personality

Brand personality sliders
—We look into the personality of the brand, using brand personalty-sliders. Project specific considering which aspects of a personality are relevant, this tool helps us dig into the brand personality.


Brand archetypes
—To help understand the personality further, we consider the 12 brand archetypes to see where your business will sit. Brand archetypes help to inform how the brand expresses itself in the world, from what position and context the brand’s visual language will come from.


6. Competitors

Finally, we get to grips with who the brand will sit alongside, who are the stronger brands within the market that we need to differentiate against.


Why rebrand?

During these interviews it is also extremely helpful for us to understand ‘Why rebrand?’ and ‘Why now?’. We need to understand the client’s cause for change. There are various reasons behind a company’s need for rebranding but these causes often fall into the following categories:

Updated brand positioning
— New line of business or an evolved market positioning

Loss of relevance
— Has the identity become stale and lost relevance. Perhaps when the original brand was created it followed a particular design trend or aesthetic that is no longer relevant.

Design problem
—It is common for clients to come to us because the current branding has functional problems which are holding the business back. The existing logo might not have been created with social media profile images in mind and might not work well at a reduced size.

Trademark dispute
— Does the trademark conflict with another company?

Corporate merger
— A company merger or acquisition can result in a necessary name change and trademark revision.

Public image problem
— Public image issues can also necessitate rebranding. Think ‘United Airlines’, need I say more!

From these interviews we get to know an outline of the company that can then be explored further and built into a strategy deck that is used during the design process.


Brand Strategy Document

Once we have interviewed key stakeholders, researched and built a good understanding of the company and project, we can start to diagnose, and formulate a brand strategy document. This document will outline the new brand positioning through pragmatic analysis of the interviews and research.



About the author, Adam

Adam Charlton is an independent branding designer based in Brighton.

After running my own branding studio based in Hong Kong, I now live and work in Brighton, crafting engaging visual identities through insightful strategy and critical design processes.

Working with clients across all industries, locally and internationally, I help businesses understand and express their purpose through their visual identity to ensure they have a lasting emotional impact.

Process, InsightAdam Charlton