I’m often asked about the right university course to take, and career path to follow, to become a brand strategist.
Truth is, there isn’t a typical route.
It’s one of those odd roles that attract a motley crew of people with very different backgrounds.
So forget courses and paths, instead, focus on qualities and skills.
There are 5 of them you need to have, and if you don’t have these, it doesn’t really matter what courses you take, or where you work… the world of brand strategy probably won’t be for you.
The 5 are:
Brand strategy is needed for all companies, across all industries.
But this has to float your boat.
If you’re ok with your next 3 projects being a luxury tequila, then a pharmaceutical company, then a tech firm – and you’re fascinated to dive deep into each business and industry, then great.
Wherever you stand on the impending US election result, it’s likely that you’re emotionally invested in the outcome.
That’s partly because, when we vote for a particular person or party, we’re casting a vote for what we believe in. It can feel very personal – do they value what I value? Do they believe and stand for what I do?
And politicians know this:
“The character of the country is on the ballot. Our character is on the ballot. Look at us closely,” said Joe Biden in the last Biden-Trump head-to-head debate.
It turns out that it’s not just our politicians’ values that we’re looking at closely.
Increasingly, prospective employees and customers are scrutinising organisations to understand their values.
“Candidates are seeking workplaces where they can intertwine their beliefs with those of the company, and work together on a common vision of purpose and success.” Harvard Business...
In my Brand Strategy Academy course this week, we’ve been talking about how to do competitor research, in order to ensure that your brand strategy is sufficiently differentiated.
I choose these words carefully, because despite the old adage of, “DIFFERENTIATE OR DIE!”, the reality is that it’s just not realistic to write a brand strategy where every single idea in it is different from your major competitors’. This is particularly true when you get to writing WHO you are and HOW you do things – what companies often call their values, beliefs or behaviours.
Take Visa, Mastercard and American Express – 3 of the 35 most valuable brands in the world.
If you look at WHO they are and HOW they say they do things, all three talk about integrity:
And they all include the idea of...
I'm in an accountability group with three amazing entrepreneurial women, who are all trying to create their websites. When we chatted last week, they were bemoaning the fact that they'd been given "bad logos" from the designers they'd hired to help them.
I suggested that perhaps it wasn't the designers' fault, and asked them what they'd put in their brief.
There was a shifty silence...
So I wrote them a guide that I shared in my blog last week, then asked for feedback on it from the amazing design talent I know. I wanted both sides of the story.
So here's the ultimate guide - from my perspective, having briefed hundreds of design projects over the years, and from the perspective of talented designers who’ve seen many good and bad briefs in their time.
Are you looking to do your logo, website or brand at the moment?
These are the three words you might be focusing on when you're briefing a designer to help you.
I need a logo, then I need a website. And these are the foundations of my brand.
But this is a surefire way to lead to disappointment and frustration with what you get back.
Partly, success with any brief is down to the skill of the designer, so, firstly, make sure you’re buying from someone who has a lot of references, who can show you a lot of their work, and who can show variety in their work.
You want them to be able to reflect YOU - not impose their style on you.
But the other two significant success factors in briefing a designer and managing the design process are :
We just need to rewind a bit. Everything...
The Great British Bake Off returns to our screens this evening.
I’m no master-baker, but I would like to think of myself as a master-brander. So it got me thinking about a fool-proof brand strategy recipe.
So here’s the classic Victoria Sponge of the brand strategy world.
Start here – with this method and the 3 vital ingredients – then, by all means, add some of your individual flourish and flair.
But don’t mess around with the recipe too much, or you may end up with something that doesn’t fit the brief.
There are three key steps in the process, and three vital ingredients.
Got 4 minutes?
Then I’ve got 4 questions for you. Questions that every world-class brand knows their answers to.
What am I talking about?
Brand strategy, of course. Because all any business needs to do to create a brand strategy is to answer these four questions.
WHY - you exist
WHO - you are
HOW - you do things, and how you look, feel and sound
WHAT - you do
Now you can call these whatever you want. You can call the answer to WHY you exist your brand purpose or your mission. You can call the ‘WHO', your values, principles, or philosophy. You can call your 'HOW' your behaviours, or mantra, or principles.
Contrary to what you might see elsewhere – what you call these things DOES NOT MATTER!
But what matters very much, is your answers to these questions, and that you answer all of them.
Why do we have to answer each of these questions?
So I've been writing away about branding for a while, but I got a couple of emails this week from people asking me to rewind a bit, and answer, 'What is brand strategy?'
So here's a 5 minute clip from my free 'Brand Strategy in 7 Simple Steps' mini-course that explains it.
I start by rewinding even further - to what is a brand.
Because you've gotta know that, before you know what brand strategy is.
If you're more a reader than a watcher, get the explanation below.
And if you're itching to know what to do next - how to do your brand strategy - then it's all in the free course - get it right here.
Wishing you clear, confident brand-building progress my friend!
All brands really are, are the associations people have about a business in their minds.
And studies and neuroscience have shown that the stronger and more connected these associations are, the more likely a customer is to choose and buy your brand.
So what does this...
This week I had a mildly successful back-to-school shop with the kids. (One pair of football boots down, one to go).
September is in the air, and this year, even more than others, that ‘back-to-school’ feeling is hitting businesses too.
All the questions I’ve got within the last week have been about ‘rebranding’ in September.
Perhaps the lure of new shiny pencil cases is making you feel your brand needs an update too?
If so, then just hold your horses for a moment before you get sign-off on a big September ‘rebrand.’
‘Rebranding’ is a very loaded and misunderstood term – usually interpreted to be all about changing the signals of what you stand for – primarily your visual identity and verbal identity. It’s used as the great panacea – for declining sales and low pricing, lack of customer engagement, or employee motivation.
And, let’s be honest, it’s also kind of exciting...
I was driving back from Norfolk last week with a friend who was telling me about a difficult experience she’d had trying to get a website up and running for a client. The client had briefed a logo designer who said he works, “Just when inspiration hits.”
6 weeks later and no logo options had materialised. But he had taken a sketch pad on holiday with him.
But the bigger problem was that there was no brief.
Nothing to judge any logo against.
Nor was there a plan to create the other brand signals that need to work with the logo – fonts, colour palette, imagery etc. And yet she was expected to get this website up and running.
I told her that, sadly, this wasn’t uncommon, and that I was planning to write about this in one of my blogs.
She told me to get on with it.
So here it is.
This could go on for pages - but I'm...
Well, here's a secret for you...
There are '7 Simple Steps' to a world-class brand strategy. They work for ANY brand in any industry, and you can get them FOR FREE in my 4-part video mini-course.
This proven formula is based on my 20 years of global brand strategy experience and study of the 181 world's most valuable brands, and it's yours today, for free.