Are We Nearly There?
A familiar question to many, generally asked from the back seat, usually whilst sitting in a traffic jam and quite possibly only ten minutes into a three-hour journey.
So, are you nearly there yet on your brand journey? Of course not, as we all know a brand journey is a journey without an ending, at least we hope so. If you stop to think about it it’s quite a daunting prospect. You’re on a journey, which will keep changing direction as you, your organisation, your customers and your market dictates deviations, diversions and maybe even a U-turn.
To successfully navigate any journey you need to set off in the right direction. This may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many brands on their particular journey have either lost their way or worse still have set off without really knowing where they want to go. Imagine for a moment you’re the owner of a bandwagon. This wagon as in the true sense actually does include a band, who are playing great music whilst you are behind the wheel. Everything seems to be going great, the band is on fine form and many people are jumping on your wagon, the party is in full swing. But, after a while the band become tired, they start playing the same song over and over again, strings break and tempers fray, soon the party falls into disarray and before you know it everyone who jumped on your bandwagon has now jumped off. To make matters worse you run out of fuel, leaving you marooned and cursing your lack of a plan.
What is the relevance of this to you and your brand journey?
I would proffer that if you’re reading this you are either responsible for the direction of your brand’s journey or you certainly have an important say in where it’s heading. You may not be driving a bandwagon, but you are steering a “brandwagon” and it’s vital that this vehicle knows where it’s going. The last thing you need is for others to be mapping your journey for you. Whilst it’s true that brands are created in the minds of customers, strong brands drive sales and for this to happen the organisation behind the brand needs to have a clear sense of direction. Failing to plan is planning to fail; we’ve all heard this statement no doubt. However, if you want your brand to succeed you must plan-plan-plan. It’s no use leaving it to chance.
So what can you do?
You must start with a business plan. This may sound dull and quite possibly conjures up harrowing memories of exams – understanding figures and hypothesis. I should know – I chose art and design for a reason! However, before we can start on the fun things, we need to understand our business. A well-executed business plan will clearly set out your goals as an organisation; it will communicate your authenticity, your proposition and importantly the direction you are heading in. However, its purpose is not to specify how you and your organisation behave during your journey. This is where a brand guide comes in.
A brand guide must be carefully developed to help you understand what you as an organisation are all about – your heritage, brand values, USPs, future vision and mission. This guide is very specific about how your brand should appear and behave. Consistency will deliver a strong brand that maintains a positive and lasting impression of your organisation. Following the guidelines carefully and using them effectively will ensure you use your brand properly and consistently across all communication touch points. Just as your brand journey will alter your brand guide must be revisited time and again to keep setting the pace as your story evolves.
It’s worth remembering that successful brands tell good stories and all stories begin with “Once upon a time”. Your story is what defines your brand; it’s your individual and authentic difference. Use it.
How you communicate is an essential part of the brand journey. Along the way you’ll meet a wide range of audiences that will connect to you and are interested in what you do and say. These groups are impacted directly or indirectly from your actions and communication, so it is important to think about what you are saying and how you deliver it. When addressing an audience follow a set of key guidelines to deliver any communication, either written, verbally or visually. This will help guide you in language, expression, selection of imagery, method of delivery and focus to achieve the desired outcome.
No two human beings are the same; we all have a different DNA code. Like snowflakes, each has its own unique pattern. No two journeys along the same path are alike. It’s identical with successful brands. Each has its own distinctive properties and is on a unique journey. Successful brands have planned and mapped out their journey – they’ve locked the front door, put the cat out and are prepared for any awkward questions.
So, are we nearly there yet?… No….Just sit back and enjoy the ride.