On one of my movie cheat days (watch movies all day!), there was this particular exchange between these two characters that was wedged in my mind longer than the movie did - and it went like this,
Character 1: You look like you’re carrying a lot of baggage! (looking him up and down)
Character 2: Yeah, man! Got a brand here, got a brand there - everything is branded! its only brand, brand, brand! 😎
Character 1: Oh, so everything in your life is a brand?
Character 2: Of course! My shoes are branded. This watch is branded. The phone I use is branded. From the air I breathe to the food I eat, everything is branded. Everything in life is brand. Why even God can be a brand!
Now, I know what you’re thinking. This second character is crazy, self-centered and is a whole load of fluff. Honestly, I thought the same.
But then that triggered another trail of thought that’s lead to this question - is a brand really that big a deal? And if it’s that big, what does it take to build a good brand?
Well, we’re glad you asked!
This case study is an attempt to portray the branding process that we follow at Skcript. With this, we are going to highlight the importance of cohesive brand process that will have the core values of the brand at its center. As we take you through the process, we’ll answer questions on the way and this list of steps will help you build a steady, successful brand that will make heads turn.
The Brand/Product Dilemma
‘Brand’ is one of those words that is widely used but unevenly understood. The product isn’t the brand and the brand isn’t the product (there’s no need to freak out!) But sadly that’s a common misconception that everybody has nowadays. To put things in perspective, if your company is the rooster, then your brand will be the mother hen and all the products and services that you offer under this brand will be your little chicks. Your company, it’s brand name (the name with which your company is identified with) and your products all branch off the same family tree. So they’re not separate entities - if anything they’re mutually inclusive with one another.
Sounds complex right? Then, we’ve caught your attention! Now, let’s try breaking this down. First of all, when we talk about ‘brand cohesion’, we’re talking about the brand being the fulcrum with it’s other aspects functioning as a well-oiled machine. More often that not, a brand is a story always being told. But how well do we have to narrate this story to keep the audience interested? By giving them what they look for.
Now will be a good time for the following question to crop up in your head, “But how do we know what they’re looking for?”
You can define close to a hundred different things that people look for in a brand. But the two most important things that’s looked for in a brand is connection and relevance. Connection to the core values, connection to the audience, relevance to the present time and relevance in terms of market placement - that’s what every brand is after. By connecting with the audience and staying relevant, there’s this promise that’s translated between the brand and it’s audience.
If you look close enough, Apple doesn’t have the largest product selection and Amazon isn’t the most prestigious. But people still buy from both Apple and Amazon because as a brand these two giants have made a promise to their users and that promise is expressed via their products. And it’s because of this promise that people keep coming back. That’s what a brand can do - it strikes a cord and moves people.
The Branding Process
Now that you’ve got a fair idea about what the company, brand and product are and how they tie together, let’s see how we make this work with the Branding Process at Skcript.
1. Ask, to get a clear picture
We’ve talked about kick-starting the branding process, but from where do we start? This question can spur a lot of conversation, but the ideal place to begin this process would be to identify the vision of the company.
Round up the key management and interview them - ask them how they visualized the company and they saw that vision evolve. In most cases, it’s the key management that sets the vision of the company. And talking to them will give you a clear understanding of the mission, vision and goals tied to the company. Once you’ve got all this information, you’ll know where the company is now (in terms of industry presence) and this will also give you a lead on how to take the company to the next level. It is imperative to have the utmost clarity on the vision of the company as this constitutes the foundation of the entire branding process.
2. Be aware of competition
Let the vision and mission of the company seep into your head. Once the entire idea is wrapped around your head, it’s time to go out and look for competition. And by going out, we mean going online and researching your competition. Analyze your competition, see what they’ve got to offer, then come back and do a background check on your company again. And if you’ve got enough time in hand, you can even do a SWOT Analysis.
Doing a SWOT, will help you pick your pain points and gives you ample time to work on converting them into useful action points. The SWOT could also determine your company’s market position accurately.
Now, that we’ve understood the vision, mission and market position of the company, it’s time to jump into the brand and the process behind it. But first, let’s answer this obvious question.
What is a brand?
A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organization, company or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising. Branding is a set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company or it’s products from competitors, aiming to create a lasting impression in the minds of customers. In Skcript’s definition, the Branding Process is a definitive, extended marketing exercise.
Now that we’ve established the different facets associated with branding, let’s revert back to our process!
3. Determine the pivot point
Going by our earlier definition, ‘brand is a name, term or feature that distinguishes the company from its rivals’ and ‘branding is a method that helps differentiate the company or it’s products from their competition, creating a lasting impression amongst their customers.
So it’s safe to say that if the company is the parent, then the brand is the child and it’s the brand with which the company is identified or known for. Having an identity among others in the market requires a bit more focused attention, and that’s what we’re going to contribute to the brand from here on.
You know the vision of the company. The evolution of that vision translates to how well the brand is perceived. With the brand at the helm, it’s time to write the core values. These core values include your goals and your brand’s promise. Along with the core values, talk about your products, services and how they are delivered. This will create a sense of trust among your audience and as you deliver more products, as the time and market grows, so will the trust.
4. Write a creative brief
The vision is set. The core values are determined. It’s time to tell the world how these ideas transpired. In every little thing you write for your brand (be it the core values or the promise), talk about what inspired you to present it that particular way. Write a brand guideline that will help people follow your brand in the right way. And if Steve Jobs inspired you to include ‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish’ as one of your core values, then mention it!
Telling your audience whom you were inspired by will reinforce the belief that they have on you. And when you have trust and belief from the people you love, you’ve got a sure shot at winning!
5. Give your brand a face
You have your brand’s core values. You’ve given them a guideline to follow. With a strong body underway, it’s now time to give your brand a face. A brand is almost like a person. It has a face, an identity, a personality and a voice. This is where you think about drawing that perfect logo and a tagline to accompany your brand that will go out as a strong message conveying what your brand stands for. Decide on typefaces, fonts and color palettes that will enhance your brand and put them here. Once all this is done, shift gears and work on the website. The website should complement what the new brand stands for.
6. Develop the brand identity
This brand person is slowly taking shape! Time to breathe life into this brand.
If you’ve read the title closely, developing the brand identity can’t happen in a day. It takes careful planning and a lot of attention to detail to project the brand at the next level. Clothe your brand before putting it out there. Make sure that everything from the core values to the guidelines, to the website remains uniform and structured. Draft a plan on how to introduce this brand to the world.
Give them teasers at steady intervals - this will keep them in the loop and will also build the anticipation. Keep them waiting with bated breath and then release your brand with a brand!
7. Review, review and review!
But wait! Don’t just launch your brand yet! Before you launch your brand externally, show them to your internal team. Introduce them to the new brand and see how it’s received. There will be both constructive and destructive feedback - take both into account. Go back and work on improving things from their feedback. Build on your team’s feedback, improve the design and identity of the brand based on their opinions. Tweak all that you can, present it to your internal team and have them review and respond to it.
Remember, your internal team members your best critics. If it works with them, you know it works everywhere - so leave no stone unturned. Once you’ve got the green signal from your team and you know that they’ve warmed up to the idea, you know it’s time to go live.
8. Ready, Set, Launch!
Oh, how we wish that going live was as easy as the title! Here at Skcript we follow a three-phase approach prior to going live,
(i) Internal Launch
Take your internal through the new brand and the identity. This is a slow process. Your internal team won’t adjust to your brand in a day - that’s completely alright. They will take time to adjust to it and work by it - give them the time. This will help you both you and your brand in the long run.
This is what we call the ‘middle ground’. This time serves as a bridge - where both the company and team comes to understand and align their individual goals along with the company’s new brand identity.
This is where you have to pull out the big guns. We follow something called ‘Target and Aim’ where we target and aim the new brand at industry-specific markets first and then expand to other target markets as well. The new brand elements will feature on the company website, all social media platforms, ads, printed materials and will be present through other customer interactions. The brand guidelines should also be available online for further reading.
Once the new brand has launched, monitor how well the brand is being received by the audience. Track analytics and with the results, work on improving your brand further. The best brands get the best reception because they’re always under constant improvement.
‘A brand is what people say about you when you aren’t in the room’ said Jeff Bezos. We at Skcript, often try to understand what people say both when we’re in and out of the room - it can be good or bad, but at the end of the day it makes you better. By following our cohesive branding process, we now have the power to craft a brand like no other.