Brand planning and digital: A framework
Brand is definitely a tricky subject, especially in the B2B world. A lot of people think they already have one (when they don’t) or that they already understand how to use it (which they probably don’t).
Brand, at its core, is really about character: who an organization is, how it acts and how it is perceived. As marketers, we bring that character to life through tactics. But there are many steps between understanding character and going to market. Adding digital to the mix only complicates things further, and also makes understanding corporate character and brand even more important.
Most organizations will point to the mission and values page on their website and emphatically say, “We know who we are and what we do. See, it says so right here.” But here’s the dirty little secret about those kinds of pages: nobody reads them, and they don’t really matter. If you have to tell someone what you believe in, or what your mission is, then you are missing all the hidden potential that the digital experience brings to the table when it comes to helping tell your story.
So how do we get there? We develop a really good plan.
Most planners, and all marketers, know the value of a really cool framework. The brand planning framework is typically a pyramid, but we’re going to build from top to bottom.
At the top: building blocks
Here you have your brand idea–your essence and purpose. Why you do what you do, and what makes you you. What your company is doing and saying–this is your brand persona. These building blocks uncover true corporate character and help set the stage for the meat of the brand plan.
In the middle: creating a strategy
Brand strategy is all about bringing your persona to life in order to achieve a set of goals or a specified outcome. Your communications strategy covers what you want to say, and how your company should say it. These are fundamental in creating process for aligning brand building blocks with the capabilities, goals and needs of your company.
At the bottom: defining marketing activities
The logistics and the requirements to execute the strategy–these are your tactics. Many organizations are really good at thinking tactically, and they often jump straight to this step without doing any of the previous work.
The foundation of everything
Customer experience: This is the only thing that really matters in the end–what your clients/customers take away from interacting and working with you and your people. If there is a misalignment between what you are saying and the way stakeholders are feeling, your brand will crumble.
As Managing Director of Brand and Experience Design, Ryan Schulz is responsible for making sure clients’ true character is represented in everything his team does: messaging, brand, user experience, visual design and front-end experiences. With more than 15 years in brand consulting, he helps clients break through the sea of sameness that plagues the world of professional services.
Favorite color: Greenish
Favorite breakfast food: Breakfast tacos