Before diving head first into brand strategy, you need a clear answer to the question “What are brand strategy deliverables?”.
When providing design services, the deliverables are clear. Why? We can see them.
Brand strategy on the other hand is less tangible.
Is it a set of words?
Is it a presentation?
Is it research?
Is it a guide?
Is it a plan?
We answer these questions and more in this article. So let’s dive in.
Brand Strategy Deliverables
[The Video Breakdown]
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Brand Strategy Is A Plan Of Expression
Let’s first jump onto the same page of what a brand strategy is so we’re moving forward together on this.
A brand exists to bring a business and its audience together.
That’s the role of the brand.
The brand strategist understands the audience in great detail before devising a plan to best connect with them to ultimately shape their perceptions and influence their buying decisions.
The brand strategy therefore is:
The plan for how the brand will express itself including its message, personality and visual appearance.
Branding Starts With A Discovery Session
No doubt you’ve heard of a discovery session before.
If you’re a brand designer, you’ve probably run plenty discovery sessions in your time. though when it comes to strategy, these sessions are in-depth and critical to the strategic development.
Building any brand starts with an understanding of the business the brand will be built around.
At an early stage, the business may be little more than an idea and a set of processes and systems to deliver an end result for someone.
Although this is not a brand, the outcome the business offers is exactly what a certain group of people want or need and this basic information forms the foundational ingredients the brand is developed from.
This discovery session uncovers these ingredients as well as the boarder ideas of the leadership team behind the business but this is not enough to develop a strategy.
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Research Is The Key To An Effective Brand Strategy
Once the discovery session has been conducted, the brand strategist has the basic ingredients to work from but this is just the starting point of the strategic work.
Though the leadership team has spawned the business idea, don’t expect them to provide you with the answers to the questions that need answering.
As important as they are, their knowledge and insights might not go much further than knowing how to deliver the end result their business offers.
Building an effective brand strategy requires knowledge, deep understanding and insights and the only way to gather what you need is through research, research and little more research.
You need to know
Who the audience is
What they want
What they don’t want
What they struggle with
Their internal and external conflicts
How this impacts them
What options they have in the market
How they feel about those options
Even when you have this information, you still don’t have a plan, just the information you need to develop one.
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Brand Strategy Is Creative Thinking
At this point, the information at your disposal from your discovery session and research represent your market landscape.
On one side, you have your audience. On the other side is your brand and in the middle are your competitors.
As a brand strategist, your job now is to map a navigation route to guide your audience through the landscape, past your competitors and over to your brand.
This route is never a straight line. There are many pitfalls, obstacles and unknowns. To map an effective route requires both creative and strategic thinking.
This route is your plan, this plan is your brand strategy.
Brand Strategy: Planning vs Execution
Mapping the plan is the most fundamental role of the brand strategist and many strategists see themselves as planners not executioners.
Once the plan has been mapped, the pass the baton on to executioners which could include brand designers, marketing strategists and marketing executioners.
They’ve mapped the landscape, understood the audience identified the roadblocks and, just like an architect, have drawn up the plans to be executed.
In the world of architecture, construction companies execute the plan.
In the world of branding, marketing companies execute the plan.
As a brand strategist, it’s important to know how far your services go and if you’ll cross over into marketing.
Will you execute the plan you’ve set out and if not, what will your guidance be to your customers who are now ready to follow the route set out for them?
If your agency is branding only, your deliverables may include the brand strategy and the brand visuals.
If your agency offers a full-service suite, your deliverables may also include marketing strategy and execution services.
In the list of deliverables below, I cover both.
Brand Strategy Deliverables
Your brand strategy deliverables include all strategic branding elements, which define the expression of the brand.
They’re constructed in a way that will allow the brand manager (or leadership team) to express the brand in the market through the guidance it offers.
These are the elements included in the deliverables:
The internal brand is the soul of the brand and represents the reasons the internal human aspect of the brand.
It provides a strong and necessary foundation, which stems from the leadership team and acts as a compass for business and brand related decisions.
The brand purpose is the reason the brand exists beyond commercial gain. It’s the heart of the brand and is the “Why” behind what it does.
When brands “start with why” they start with their purpose.
The vision is the aspirations of the brand and the ambition of how the leadership envisions the brand in the future.
It offers guidance to where the brand is going and puts a flat in the ground for what the brand aims to achieve.
The brand mission represents what the brand is committed to in order to arrive at that vision of the future brand.
These commitments are related to the day-to-day operations of the brand and are made to the audience it serves.
The brand values represents how the brand will behave in the marketplace and what it holds dear in its dealings.
Many brands claim to have core values, but few hold them dear as a philosophy for how they do business.
Audience Persona (s)
The audience persona is a fictional character or characters that brings the audience to life.
The persona defines both the circumstances and behaviours of the target group of people through their demographics and psychographics.
Effective audience persona’s however go much deeper and understand the:
Understanding the options available to the audience is key to strategising a plan to get their attention.
Brands that simply offer more of the same are only successful in blending in and contributing to market noise.
A competitive analysis outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the competition and paves the way for identifying gaps and opportunities the brand can leverage.
Using the intimate understanding of the target audience and the competitive landscape, the brand strategist identifies gaps and opportunities in the market to develop a positioning strategy.
Gaps and opportunities however only provide the spark. For a positioning strategy to be effective the strategist must develop the opportunity into a fully formed unique idea.
Human Brand Persona
Modern consumers demand more from brands and expect them to communicate on a human level with messaging that speaks directly to who they are.
We connect as humans through human characteristics and brands displaying such characteristics can resonate more effectively.
This persona is developed in two ways:
Before the brand personality is developed the strategist must uncover the personality of the audience it’s attempting to attract.
Only with a clear understanding of the audience, the desires they have and the characteristics they’re attracted to, can they develop an effective personality that will resonate.
The voice of the brand is another opportunity for the brand to display characteristics the audience is attracted.
The more familiar the brand voice and the more attractable the characteristics of the voice are to the audience, the more potent the brand message will be.
Armed with an intimate understanding of the audience, an effective market position and a strategic human persona, the brand strategist must then develop a brand-messaging framework with impact.
The framework is divided up into key messages that work together as a guide to shape brand communication.
If the framework is developed correctly, the messages will appeal to the primitive and emotional section of the brain as well as the logical and analytical section.
Understanding the audience and their journey influences all brand strategy elements though this takes a more literal approach with brand storytelling.
In order to engage the audience through story, the strategist must create a narrative that their audience sees themselves in which then plays out throughout the various touch points of the brand.
Brand Strategy Guidelines
The elements of your brand strategy represent how the brand should be strategically expressed in the marketplace.
Developing a guide for this expression provides the brand manager or leadership team with a tool for brand consistency.
Whether the strategist executes the marketing or not, a brand strategy guide is a key deliverable of the brand strategy.
Brand Identity Deliverables
The brand identity deliverables include all visual aspects of the brand including artwork files and final products.
The logo is the branding deliverable that is most commonly assumed.
However in conjunction with an entire strategic brand, represents only a small piece of the puzzle. Original artwork files and exported execution files with positional and color variations are standard.
Typography is another strategic opportunity to display characteristics and offer strong support for the messaging.
The typography of the brand identity and any supporting typefaces and fonts must be packaged up and delivered.
Along with typography, the color palette is a strategic tool for communicating characteristics, which are applied throughout all visual communication.
Color values and application guides provide direction for the brand manager.
The brand image style is one of the most impactful visual elements of the brand identity system and may involve professional photography shoots to deliver the intended visual message.
These images including treatments and any rights to the images should be delivered on handover.
A set of flexible icons offers the brand manager a visual communication tool which can be applied to any digital or physical products and can support brand recall and association.
A suite of icons along with dictions and intended or possible uses provides clarity of application.
The style guide brings all visual brand identity elements together in a guide for visual consistency.
This guide outlines the rules and regulations for the visual expression of the brand and is an important tool for visual consistency.
Digital collateral including:
Social media branding assets
are often provided as a brand project deliverable.
Whether the strategist is hands-on or serving in director role, the brand strategy guide and brand style guide must be used to ensure strategic alignment.
Supporting services such as hosting and domain setup may also be included in the deliverables.
Physical collateral including:
May be both designed and delivered. which may include
(Strategy & Execution)
If your branding business offers a full service suite, your deliverables will extend beyond the brand strategy and identity into tactical plans and execution of marketing efforts.
Some agencies keep all of this work in-house, while others set up partnerships or simply offer referrals.
Either way, you should have a next step proposal for your customer now they are armed with a strategic brand.
Identifying where your audience spends their time online and offline uncovers the environments that the brand can engage in.
This analysis should also uncover the priority of these channels based on the likelihood of open engagement and action.
With an understanding of the channels available and the likelihood of engagement, a plan must be set in place for the most effective way to engage.
This plan, fed by the brand strategy also determines the most appropriate messages and visuals to be used for each approach.
For each platform and each engagement, the approach will often require visual representation in the form of artwork, which is guided by the brand style guide.
If your branding agency has referred on the marketing execution, they may work with the marketing agency to execute the visual expression of the brand.
All forms of marketing and communication require some form of content. From blog posts to ad copy, this content may be produced by the marketing team or through external copywriters.
As always, the brand strategy guide, including the message, story, personality and voice must influence any content produced.
If Search Engine Optimisation is part of the long term marketing strategy, the technical aspects of SEO must be delivered.
Execution may be fulfilled by the marketing agency or through external SEO specialists.
Facebook ads, display ads and Google adwords are all examples of paid channels that may be identified and the most appropriate engagement strategy for the brand.
Artwork and content form part of the delivery as well as execution of ad placement, monitoring, optimisation and budget management.
Analytics & Reporting
Reporting is a critical aspect of marketing execution as it illustrates how successful a marketing campaign is.
Metrics such as:
All help the marketing efforts in both reporting and optimisation.
Your Position In The Customer Journey
As a brand strategist, it’s important to have a clear picture of the journey your customers are on.
Knowing where they’re coming from and what they’re goals are, are critical to resonate with them through your messaging strategy.
Your position will play a vital role in whether or not your audience will engage you.
Whether you play the “architect” role in brand strategy or the full “execution” role, it’s important to show you have an invested interest in their entire journey.
Over To You
Are you providing branding services to your clients?
If so, what are your branding deliverables?
Are you considering taking on a more strategic role and has this article helped you do determine your deliverables?
I’d love to her from you in the comments below… Let me know your journey.
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