Whether you’re a start-up or you’ve been in business for years, brand strategy is an indispensable framework for building a meaningful brand. A successful brand strategy aims to understand your past, embrace your present, and envision your future in order to bring clarity to your positioning and provide a confident path forward for bringing your vision to life.
At Present, we require brand strategy as the first phase of any comprehensive project we take on. For us, brand strategy is a collaborative journey of discovery and understanding that takes time and exploration. We recommend brand strategy to any business we work with big or small, new or well-established, that does not have a well-documented, relevant strategy in place. For new businesses, strategy is a great way to ensure that your brand is rooted in a vision reflective of your values from the very start. For existing businesses, brand strategy is helpful in determining the best path for the refinement and evolution of your brand. Every type of business benefits from the process. This is how we do it.
1. The Interviews
We begin our process by conducting qualitative interviews with founders and key stakeholders, exploring the past, present, and future of a business. Through these interviews, our objective is to be active listeners keen to uncover the human stories and motivations behind the business. In every conversation we have, this humanity is what we are listening for, and, while it’s found universally, the way it’s communicated, the stories, are unique to each business. By taking time to really understand the who, what, and why at the core of each business, we can begin to see the outline of a deeply meaningful brand. As we listen, we can start to see.
In addition to speaking with founders and key stakeholders, we also seek the perspectives of customers. This can involve direct interviews or broader surveys to gather both qualitative and quantitative insights into the customer’s experience of your brand. It is important to us to consider multiple perspectives—yours, ours, your customers’—in order to form a holistic understanding of how the brand is being conveyed and perceived.
2. The Research
After we have conducted our interviews, we move into a research phase where we analyze the market landscape and identify an aspirational position within it. Aspirational is key here because brand strategy is not about homeostasis, it’s about establishing a vision of your brand that can be actively worked toward. Our research includes assessing your perspective on your peers, existing and aspirational, as well as conducting our own research to identify successful brands within the market and the space available within this landscape to make an impact.
The goal of our research phase is to combine our learning from the interviews with the landscape of the marketplace in order to carve out specific opportunities for your brand—both to fit within this landscape and to stand out.
3. The Strategy
Through our extensive interviews and research, we gather a wealth of knowledge which, when organized, integrated, and distilled, becomes a comprehensive strategy. Our strategy decks cover three major areas: observations which form the base, language which forms the core (ie: brand ethos, brand values, brand purpose, etc), and visual mood-boards which form the starting point for the next step into brand identity.
—Saba Parsa of Saba Jam
Overall, the strategy deck should be a perfect reflection of everything that’s been discussed, researched, and gathered throughout the process. The outcome of this process shouldn’t feel like a surprise, it should feel like a perfect mirror. We are showing you the version of you that you have been trying to communicate, that you know is there, but that you haven’t been able to put into words or visuals until now. The best response to a strategy deck should be that you feel seen.
Benefits + Outcomes
The benefits and outcomes of brand strategy are many. For clients, there are varied internal and external benefits and for our studio, others. Overall there is a foundation set for the brand to build on. If there are any doubts about whether a collaboration is a good fit, or if their communication style is hitting the right note, the brand can always look to their strategy to provide guidance.
Client Benefits + Outcomes
- Clarity. Having a comprehensive internal document that outlines the foundational elements of your brand is an incredibly helpful resource to have. It provides you and your team with a clear understanding of who you are, what you do, and why it matters.
- Direction. Brand strategy offers a clear vision for a brand and business which is useful as an aide in any decision-making process.
- Confidence. If you can’t speak specifically about what you do and why you do it, it’s difficult to leave an impact on anyone who might be listening. Brand strategy provides the vision and the verbiage for confident communication.
—Alexandra Cadiz + Micah Blyckert of Ceramicah
Studio Benefits + Outcomes
- Trust. The absolute most important aspect for us working with client is ensuring that we can earn their trust. For us, brand strategy is a great way to do this because it involves so much learning and observation. Diving into creative work without context is not something we want to do, so it’s important to us that we know the people we are working with and that our relationship is built on trust. This makes every following phase of work together much more seamless as well.
- Time. The more time we spend getting to know our clients and their brands, the less time we waste making assumptions about who they are or what they are trying to achieve. Clients who do not want to invest this time with us are not the right fit so it also serves as a sort of filter for our business.
- Truth. Crafting a brand strategy that is a honest reflection of our clients’ values and vision helps us establish a single source of truth for us to work from. Just like our clients can defer to their strategy for business decisions, we also to defer to it in every subsequent phase of our work together. It’s a guiding tool all around.
Is brand strategy right for you, the checklist:
- Do you lack a clear understanding of where you are currently positioned in the marketplace or is the a chasm between where you are and where you’d like to be?
- Are you confused about your values? Your vision? Your mission?
- Do you struggle to communicate what you do to others? To your team?
- Do you have the time and resources to dedicate to gaining the clarity, direction, and confidence that come from a strategy process?
Always happy to have a chat if you'd like to learn more about our process and perspective on strategy and whether it might be right for you. You can find us at email@example.com.