Building a brand from scratch in today’s noisy market is no easy feat. Understanding the Four Elements for a successful brand launch provides you with a Launchpad for success.
We have deemed these pillars for the simple reason that without one, the rest will fall over, no matter how comprehensive or how detailed they are. Over-investing in one cannot compensate for under-investing in another, as each pillar must be offered its due attention when attempting to make an impact in any market.
Strategy composes of a process of discovery to identify and uncover the core of your brand from which all action will stem. Through the process of discovery comes the essence of the brand DNA. These are the meaningful, humanistic elements of the brand that form the foundation for the way the brand behaves both internally and externally.
As the term suggests, your brand DNA becomes the fabric that makes up every element of your brand, both internal and external from tip to toe.
Getting this right from the offset cannot be underestimated in terms of value. Brands that have an intrinsic link to the meaningful and humanistic purpose and values of the business, pave the way for a collective culture that has an infectious positivity throughout the organization.
Taken from a 2010 Harvard Business Review article “Brand is Culture, Culture is Brand” (still relevant today as it was back then) is a quote from Jana Dobbs, a senior vice president of human resources and marketing;
“Advertising is important, the design of the website is important, but if customers have a positive experience every time they come into the bank, that’s what builds our reputation.”
The positive Jana mentioned above is key but what’s that got to do with strategy? Strategy starts with the meaningful reason an organisation exists and the values that guide its actions. When individuals throughout the organisation are aligned with the purpose and values of the brand that translates to everyday integrations with the audience of the brand.
Strategy also comprises of a focus on the audience of the brand to identify and understand who they are, intimately. This understanding scripts the message we want to communicate with them and the best position and personality needed to connect and resonate with them.
In another Harvard Business Review article “The Quest for Customer Focus”, the author’s outline, “Getting close to customers is not so much a problem the IT or marketing department needs to solve as a journey the whole organization needs to make. The customer focus journey takes years, not months, but there are rewards all along the way, and for those organizations that have gone the distance, the payoff is remarkable.”
Having a quality product or service is not enough. Ensuring meaningful direction of the brand and communicating the quality of that product or service to the audience in an impactful way is paramount. That is the first objective of strategy. The second is to create a narrative that will evoke an intended emotion and then connect. That is the objective of the brand strategy
Out of the foundational work that the discovery phase uncovers, the design process for the brand identity has a starting point that is steeped in the roots of the core of the brand.
The objective of the brand identity is to communicate and appeal to the target audience while representing the meaningful internal brand and differentiating from competitors.
The identity itself goes far beyond a logo and a business card. This is where the personality identified in the strategy phase takes shape and adopts its own, well, identity. Just like anyone’s identity, the distinction is in the small things and the quirks.
This identity is an illustration of the form the identity can take on beyond the simple logo.
Here are some great examples to give you a sense of an identity as a whole.
The positioning process of the strategy phase outlays what appeals to the audience while the brand strategy as a whole, paves the way and sets the tone for the styling elements of the brand identity. Often the aim is to represent the brand in the image of the ideal-self of the audience (i.e. who they aspire to be like).
This lays out the direction for design and style of the brand identity. Differentiation and appeal are the objectives of the brand designer, which assures that the audience will be attracted to the visuals of the brand but that they will also remember and recall the brand. This recall is both strategy and identity working hand-in-hand.
Brand digital presence takes on the form of the identity uncovered in the previous pillar and is very much used as a primary tool in the expression of the identity. As technology advances, possibilities are continuing to open up in the digital landscape and websites today are fluid, visual and engaging.
The website is often the first touch point with the audience and it is, therefore, first impression opportunity. Making the right impression with the brand’s platform is critical here, as the attention span of the consumer has diminished considerably in recent years.
As we move further into the digital world with every passing day, the website becomes the brand vessel in the digital landscape and needs to be nimble and adaptive to the quickly changing environment. Neglect of a brand vessel does not go unnoticed by a brands audience as expectations for brands to keep up are increasing.
Adweek a shone a light on the impact of this in their article “Decreasing Attention Spans and Your Website, Social Media Strategy”
“As a business, your ultimate end goal for having a website or being on social media is to boost sales and brand image. However, in the world of fast-declining attention spans, all of the traffic in the world won’t save a slow site. Research shows that a one-second delay in site loading time will lead to a 7% loss in conversion; for e-commerce giant Amazon, a one-second delay will result in a loss of $1.6 billion annually.”
This paints a picture of an environment where your website gets no second chance. We know that we all only have one chance to make a good impression but as far as your website goes, the default is bad impression unless it can convince the visitor otherwise inside a few seconds. That’s high pressure.
If your website doesn’t convince them otherwise then your audience has encountered its first experience with your brand as a negative one. The chances of you getting a second are slim to none.
Once you have a cast iron brand and a solid online platform it’s time to start telling the world about it. Simply going with the idea of ‘build it and they will come’ will not suffice, especially in today’s hyper-accelerated environment.
Your audience, like everybody else, is bombarded with thousands of marketing messages per day. You need to give your audience a reason to want to look at you and that reason today needs to be compelling.
The right digital marketing strategy should be outlined after a detailed phase of discovery to determine who you want to reach (right down to the smallest detail), where they hang out online and what form of information resonates with them. There are a plethora of digital channels, social media channels, content forms, strategic options when it comes to digital marketing and it’s not a one fits all solution.
Understanding your business and your audience in detail is the first step to unlocking the best strategy to appeal to them. Selecting the relevant channels, the type of content and the detailed timeline of your approach is the next step. Finally, implementation begins which leads into management and optimisation.
As digital marketing is such a fast-moving industry, with so many options, it’s often an overwhelming experience when trying to decide how you should approach it
Having a digital marketing strategist approach it from a holistic point of view might require investment up front, but what you can expect in return is experience that will help you to identify the clearest and most efficient path to access your detailed target.
When it comes to introducing your business to the market, it is important to understand all four pillars before starting on your journey. All four are major cogs in the machine and without one; the rest cannot function to their potential if at all.
Keep these pillars in mind as you approach your new brand and start with the end in mind.
Stephen is a passionate Brand Creator and Founder of Iconic Fox Brand Agency. With a background in both financial markets and design, he is well positioned on brand strategy and creative and is passionate about both. Stephen has been featured on Marketo, Hubspot, Inside Small Business, Creative Bloq and more for his expertise on brand strategy and creative.
He’s also a friendly chap so if there’s something you want to know about brand, he’d be happy to get into it with you