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Letters from the CEO

The 3 Things You Need to Establish a Strong Brand

three intersecting circles to communicate the branding trifecta

The abundance of marketing messaging in the world today is astounding. During my career, I came from a time when clever was king and as marketers we strived to be as clever as possible. Now clarity rules. We all need and are seeking products and services, but it is so very important to first quickly understand what products or services a company offers. When further evaluating a brand, the customer is seeking to understand the position the brand holds in the market, its values and traits so the customer can place the brand in a category for consideration for engagement and purchase. The perception of the brand is paramount at the beginning of any purchase decision. Will the brand help the customer solve a problem in a meaningful way? 

It is up to the leaders of organizations to define and shape their brand so that the messaging and identity clearly reflects the vision of the brand.

Establishing a brand identity is foundational to any successful business and it is important not only to the customer but to the internal audience as well. 

Take this quiz. If you asked every member of your team who your brand is and what your organization does, how many different types of answers would you receive? My bet is that your people are confused. And if your people are confused how can you expect them to communicate a clear message to your prospects and customers?

What every brand needs. The single most important thing you can do as a brand before embarking on any marketing for your organization is to establish a solid Brand Platform consisting of the following three items:  Brand Positioning, Marketing Messaging Guide and a Visual Brand Standards and Usage Guide.  

1. Brand Positioning: This is the definition of your brand. It is who you are, what you do and what you promise to your consumer. The positioning section of your brand platform could include elements such as:

  • Brand Story
  • Vision
  • Mission 
  • Core Values
  • Brand Position
  • Brand Persona
  • Brand Personality Traits
  • Brand Promise 
  • Company Fast Facts 
  • Your Tagline

2. Marketing Messaging Guide: This section is how you and your team speak about your brand. These elements are foundational to the creation of all other marketing communications from website, to social media, to print collateral and advertising. Without this, you’ll confuse yourself and, more importantly, your audience. This messaging guide includes: 

  • Alignment on target audience
  • The problem(s) of your audience 
  • Concise one-liner on how you solve your audience’s problem(s) 
  • How you call your audience to action 
  • The pros of working with your brand vs others that solve similar problems
  • The cons of not doing business with your brand 

3. Visual Brand Standards & Usage Guide: The Dos and Don’ts of your visual brand. When you have this component alongside messaging, a graphic designer has the tools they need to create assets on your behalf. This usage guide establishes and tells you how to use:

  1. Your Logo + family of logos if applicable 
  2. Brand Colors 
  3. Fonts 
  4. Design Elements unique to your brand
  5. Photography Styles 
  6. Illustration Styles 

These three elements are foundational to your brand. Without these components, I can guarantee you will waste time and resources in creating marketing materials that can often feel disjointed. When you have all three of the Branding Trinity solidified, you have established a baseline for your brand that all other marketing and advertising should follow. 

It is a great feeling when you know your brand inside and out. It’s better when your entire team knows your brand this way, too. It’s best when your audience also feels they know your brand, what you do and what you promise.