branding diagram

It all starts with mission and vision statements that get at the core of the company. These statements describe what this company does and why it should matter to their audience; what sets them apart; and the impact they hope to leave on the world.

After that, branding can include the distillation of brand values and attributes, naming and taglines.

Visual identity only makes sense after these foundational words are developed. The logo is of course important, but it’s not a brand. It’s a gateway to the brand. What matters more is the system – the way the logo’s used and how it morphs into patterns or influences iconography; the tone and style of copy; photography and/or illustration standards; color and of course typography.

Something I’ve learned the hard way is that standards manuals need to be about empowerment, not a laundry list of what can’t be done. More of a toolkit than an overbearing set of constraints. Make it flexible.

  • A Brand is not a logo
  • A brand has “heart”—gives you that warm fuzzy feeling—Disney
  • A promise that an organization makes to it’s customers—Macintosh
  • It is distinctive, inspiring, of value, authentic and relevant— It is an experience—Starbucks
  • It is the taste, the sounds, the smells, the look, the feeling—it is the foundation on which YOU believe YOUR business should operate, engage and serve it’s customers/clientele
  • It is a reason for being, it is what you stand for, it is value and principles. Build organization on that and it becomes truthful—LEGO, Ben & Jerrys, Google, Celestial Tea
  • It is holistic, leadership driven. It is you driven. It is transparent/authentic. It is also fragile.—Tiger Woods
  • A brand creates an experience… an expectation of an experience—IKEA
  • “Win their hearts and you win their minds”—Patagonia, Footprint Chronicles

Brand development


Building a world-class brand doesn’t happen by chance. It’s a purposeful endeavor that is rooted in the fusion of disciplined, strategic thinking and unencumbered creativity. The result is a brand strategy, story and experience that is elegantly simple, unexpectedly fresh, and an asset that drives your business ahead.

“Branding is the experience someone has with an organization.” “Articulate the story (of the organization), dramatize the story and then drive that story throughout everything the organization does.”

Strategic platform

Great brand strategies are grounded in the truth of an organization—its legacy, unique capabilities and opportunities.

Brand architecture

Coherent brands are built to last. They optimize for today and plan for tomorrow. They make the full breadth of your organization and your offerings clear and accessible, and ensure your brand stays focused over time.

Brand alignment

Effective brand alignment turns every colleague into a brand evangelist. We help get your people pointed in the right direction and working toward a common goal.

Brand Voice™

There’s a tone and style that’s all your own—your organization’s unmistakable character.  We call it Brand Voice, we invented it, and we can help you find your own.


A name is the gateway to your brand experience—helping to shape people’s first impressions, associations and connections to what you do. We’ll give you names that set you apart from your competition and truly stand for who you are.

Visual identity

First impressions matter—and a first impression is almost always visual. We design elegant identities and visual systems that illuminate, enhance and expand the core tenets of your brand.

Messaging strategy

Every organization has multiple audiences, internal and external. Effective branding helps you systematically address each group’s specific interests, and tell your story to the right people in the right way.

Retail environments

Your brand lives in the real world. When your customers encounter it in their daily lives, your environment affects their thoughts and emotions—which, in turn, influence their behavior. Designing intelligent, engaging environments help customers understand where to look, what to do, how to complete transactions and where to get help. They understand what you stand for and what you do, and they immediately see how they can find, access, use, or buy your offerings to their best advantage.

Brand Identity takes disparate elements and unifies them into whole systems. It fuels recognition, and makes big ideas and meaning accessible. Consider the type of company each one is, what their business is or what they sell, who their clients are or audience is, where they will be primarily focusing their marketing efforts, and how large an advertising budget they may have to spend on this development.

Consider additional factors such as to determine market position:

  • Their Competition
    • Direct
    • Indirect
  • Location/region market
  • Size
  • Target audience
  • Create quality in your design whatever it is
  • Make it memorable
  • Relationship to product or service
  • Tradition or history

You want to build a positive psychological and/or emotional response to the visual identity you create. This is more important than recognizability. You are creating the “look” that will be associated with this person, place or company. It ideally should be both “of the current time” as well as “timeless” in it’s style. Fashion is timeless. Fad is short lived and soon outdated. However, gut-level reaction and first impressions are vitally important to its longevity and success.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is a brand?
  • What are ways to measure brand value?
  • What is a charismatic brand?
  • What are the basic models for organizing brand collaboration?
  • What are the biggest challenges to overcome?
  • What are existing beliefs to overcome or build upon?

What is the difference between Clorox household bleach and a generic brand of household bleach? The price is one obvious difference. On average a gallon of the branded Clorox bleach is $3.97. Its generic competitor is about $1.55. What do you think makes intelligent shoppers choose a brand over a generic version? In a nutshell – Customer perception, which is influenced by a strong branding strategy.

The Clorox vs. generic bleach has been an ongoing debate and a great brand strategy example. (Similar examples are the Crescent brand wrench (adjustable-end wrench) FedEx (overnight delivery) or Kleenix brand (facial tissue). These brands are so incredibly strong that their very names are used when referring to the product itself, regardless of the company who may have manufactured it.

What is brand strategy? Brand strategy is a plan used across multi-media platforms that communicate a message to the consumer. The message can be direct or indirect. The goal is to stand out in the marketplace, be top of mind or first choice for a specific product space and make the consumer feel great about his or her choice of the brand/product.

A brand strategy template would begin with a brand positioning strategy. The brand positioning strategy is developed by determining several factors from audience demographics to pricing. One of the best tools to use as a first step is Archetypes in Branding: A Toolkit for Creatives and Strategists, written by Margaret Pott Hartwell and Joshua C. Chen. The authors include 60 archetypes with definitions and attributes. Some notable brands/archetypes include Volkswagen/Explorer, Schwab/Sage, Nike/Hero, etc. Zeroing in on an archetypal character to personify a brand makes sure that all departments clearly understand the brand strategy in order to develop a design strategy.

Branding Across Mediums

Any brand building strategy will include customer touch points from social and online to print, television, or radio. A brand marketing strategy is the second step in becoming a branding strategy expert.

Knowing what motivates the consumer should also never be overlooked. Some companies build a brand development strategy around the product, dress it up and throw it out onto the shelves. To be successful, strategy design should be developed with the eyes of your audience foremost in mind. Your brand strategy template should include these questions: – What problem is my brand solving for the consumer? What will motivate the buyer to choose my brand over competitors?

The brand strategy examples from Sagi Haviv on Chermayeff & Geismar’s Identity Design Process Revealed On Demand Master Class is genius and inspiring. The agency has also worked extensively with some of the world’s more recognizable businesses, developing their corporate brand strategy.

Does a Branding Strategy Smell?

According to branding expert, Joe Duffy, a brand marketing strategy should include all consumer interactions once it’s launched in the marketplace including sights, sounds and smells. Strategy design takes into account packaging design and marketing as it enters the market.

Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman, challenges the traditional brand strategy definition. Millman interviewed 20 world leading designers on their views of corporate brand strategy verses a singular brand building strategy. Can a product brand separate itself from the corporate brand? And, how do corporate leaders/your clients answer, “What is brand strategy?” Their definition will determine your success.

Becoming a branding strategy expert may leave you with more questions than answers. Millman points out, “We are now living in a world with over one hundred brands of bottled water. The United States alone is home to over 45,000 shopping malls. And there are more than 19 million customized beverage choices a barista can whip up at your local Starbucks. Whether it’s good or bad, the real question is why we behave this way in the first place.

Today people have too many choices and too little time. Therefore many buying decisions are based on trust. We form a gut feeling about which brand will deliver the best quality based only 10% on what they say and a deciding 60% by how they appear. Trust = reliability + delight, is hard to earn and easy to lose. It is the ultimate shortcut to a buying decision.

The more contrast there is between brands, the easier it is to understand them or differentiate between them. What’s different will stand out. Design’s most powerful tool is differentiation. It is your job to position your client’s product as a unique item, differentiated from the rest of the pack of similar items.

Focusing the meaning of your brand concentrates its power. By the same token, extending the meaning of your brand will diffuse it.






























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