You’ve probably heard the term brand strategy thrown around quite a bit. But everyone seems to have a different definition of what it means and the term is actually miss-used quite often. So before we dive into all the details, first let’s define what brand strategy actually is.
Here’s the definition from the Cambridge Dictionary:
Brand strategy: (n) a detailed plan for successfully developing and marketing a brand
That still seems pretty vague? Brand strategy is a long term plan for business success by finding the overlap between the business goals, the business’s essence or heart, and the audience’s needs.
But what does that really even mean?
It means figuring out what the brand stands for, how they fit in their market, and what kind of solutions are they providing for their audience by doing research and asking the right questions. I like to think of it as design thinking. And it’s our job as designers to make that thinking visual.
In my free brand strategy mini-course I dive into what exactly brand strategy is and isn’t. Enroll for free here.
When I first started designing brands it became clear to me that I was missing a pretty big key part in the equation. If I wanted to make successful brand identities, I needed to understand the business, or the brand strategy.
But the thing is, brand strategy isn’t even taught in design school! But when your job is to design for business, it’s so incredibly important to understand business – I mean after all it’s half the equation of brand identity. We are literally merging design with business.
Design + Business = Brand Identities
But when I first started I didn’t know that much about business. I knew a lot about colors, fonts, proportions, and how to make things look pretty but I had no clue what value proposition statements or competitive research were (sound like you too?) It became pretty clear to me that there was a big knowledge gap. How was I supposed to learn more about the business just from a questionnaire and a Pinterest board?
So it became clear to me that I had two choices if I wanted to make better work: 1. Hire a brand strategist for every project or 2. Learn it myself.
And since then, I’ve become obsessed with brand strategy, psychology, and how design has the power to connect people with brands and influence human behavior.
Well, because it’s absolutely essential to a successful brand identity. We can’t leave one of they key components (business) out of the equation. Rember, Design + Business = Brand Identities
Branding without purpose or strategy is just art, it doesn’t solve a problem or help the client reach their goals.
But, if you still aren’t sold, there are even more reasons why brand designers should be doing brand strategy!
When you know strategy, you gain a seat at the table with decision making with your client. You go from order taker or pixel pusher to someone that your client trusts. You aren’t just presenting them with pretty colors and fonts- you’re giving them business solutions. You take on more of a consultant role.
When you can start providing real solutions to business problems your clients will trust you so much!
We’ve all heard the phrase “you get what you pay for”. Well, when you are offering brand strategy, you are offering so much more for the client! You are helping them build a really solid brand foundation, you’re helping them get clear on their mission, vision, voice, and so much more. You also are no longer taking on small scope projects for one-off pieces. So instead of taking on random small projects for a business card, you are now working on bigger budget, full-scope projects for the whole brand experience.
By hosting brand strategy workshops with your clients you are able to build a bigger connection with them. Just the workshop alone is such a big factor in bringing in the client on your thinking and design solutions. When you start to implement brand strategy workshops, you won’t be facing endless revisions and hearing things like “make the logo bigger” or vague statements like “I’m not really feeling this” because every design decision is rooted in strategy and intention.
Want to learn more about brand strategy for brand designers? Enroll in my free mini-course to learn more about what brand strategy is (and isn’t), the 6 essential components that should be included, and how to sell the value of brand strategy.