If you’re been with Quill & Co. for a while, you know we’re allllll about Brand Strategy and why it can work wonders for small businesses. And if you’re new to these parts of the interwebs, first off, welcome! And second off, you should know that on the blog we chat a lot about brand strategy, how to incorporate it into your business offerings as a designer, and why it ultimately matters for your clients.
That being said, we all know there’s a ton of trendy, buzzwords in the industry, and brand strategy definitely falls into that category. One day you’re browsing through Instagram and see that a heap of designers you know are now calling themselves “brand strategists” in their titles. What does it mean? What does it entail? And what does it take to call yourself a strategist? And is it something that designers should even be doing? These are important questions to get answers to and they will help you better understand if setting a goal to add brand strategy to your offerings makes sense for you and your business.
Back to the basics but oh-so-important, a true definition of brand strategy is crucial to know if you would even want to learn more about it. At its core, brand strategy is a mapped out plan of action that aligns your brand, your goals, and your audience together. It’s essentially the blueprint to business success. In my own business, I call my brand strategy process the “Brand Roadmap” because it’s a mapped out plan of action on how to take your business from point A to point B. From there, we build a shortcut that clearly shows the overlap between business goals, the brand heart, and the customer’s needs.
Brand strategy is akin to unearthing, and stripping down a business to its framework to understand what it needs to be successful. Through brand strategy, we are able to zoom in on a clear vision and plan to help them achieve their goals that both serve the ideal customer and move the needle in the business. Without brand strategy, businesses are picking a brand aesthetic based on their own intuition and taste, whereas brand strategy takes into account the overarching goals in a customer-first perspective and then builds a visual identity with that information as the base frame.
Brand strategy can be as simple or in-depth as you want to make it, but at its most basic level it should answer these main topics:
Many designers feel intimidated by brand strategy because they automatically associated it with more complex marketing tactics. At its very core, brand strategy requires someone who can ask the right questions and even more so, be an active listener. As the leader of the brand strategy session, your main job is to help clients see themselves and understand their brand — which requires more listening than talking. While brand strategy and brand design haven’t always gone hand-in-hand, that doesn’t mean designers can’t offer strategy and excel at it.
Now that you’ve learned more about what brand strategy is and isn’t, you can think critically about if it would be a good fit for your business and potential clients. Offering brand strategy is probably a good fit for you if you can be a strong listener and if you’re ready to help your clients with bigger problems. You love designing but realize that without those pillars of strategy, it’s hard to build a brand identity that moves beyond aesthetics and solves business goals.
If all of this sounds exciting to you and you’re ready to dive in, be sure to hop on the waitlist for Brand Clarity Academy, my signature program that teaches the fundamentals of brand strategy, how to run these calls with clients, and how to use your takeaways to deliver a profound Brand Roadmap document that serves as a steady foundation for all branding to come.