In any branding process, strategy is the part where you bring together everything you learned during the research phase and dig down into your target audience, values, advantages, and goals to reveal one unified idea that then guides your positioning.
Before you can create your brand positioning statement, you need to really understand your business - who you serve, what you do, and why you do it.
- Value Proposition (what you bring to the table)
- Target Market
- Trends (what others are doing)
- Pricing (this will determine how you brand yourself)
- Opportunities (where you can do something new in the market)
- Environment (if your business is tied to location)
What is the essence of your brand?
The essence of your brand is the thing that is deep down at the center. It's what drives everything else - your branding, your decisions, your clients, the work your produce.
- What do you do best?
- Why do your clients choose you over your competition?
- How do you want your business to be perceived?
- How are you different from your competitors?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Answering these questions may take some real soul-searching and honesty, but they will help you understand why you (and your business) is the only one that can do exactly what you do.
At Lemon and the Sea, I pride myself on my ability to take what my clients have told me and translate that into the brand they envisioned quickly and with great communication. I've learned that my clients want to be involved in the design process - if only to see how it works - so I make sure to include strategy and review calls in my schedule. Doing this - instead of simply taking the questionnaire answers and coming back with a complete brand a few weeks or months later - is how I stand out and it's the reason that my clients choose me. But knowing this also makes it easier for me to tailor my copy, my questionnaires, and my interview calls to make sure that the clients I'm working with want this type of service and gives me the ability to point them to someone else if my process doesn't fit their way of working. I'm also very clear on my values - faith, honesty, authenticity - and I share those openly so that anyone who considers working with me isn't surprised by that later.
The big Idea
The "big idea" of your brand is how you take everything you've learned so far, including your research and brand essence, and translate it into a simple brand statement. This big idea should be expressed in one sentence that is simple and has the ability to adapt as your business grows and develops over time. It should create an emotional connection - with both your clients and your employees (or yourself if you're a solopreneur) - so that it's easy to talk about and share with others.
You can start your brand statement by filling in the following and developing it further from there:
"I'm (name), a (title) who works with (target audience) to (biggest benefit)."
- I'm Samantha, a graphic designer who works with creatives who want to be involved in the design process to help them update their brand and online presence so that it better reflects who they are and what they do.
- I'm Candice, an author who wants her readers to curl up with a cup of coffee and a cozy mystery.
- I'm Sydney, a performer who transports her audience to a new world every time she is on stage.
"Our (service/product) is the only (category) that (benefit)."
- My branding packages have the only process that allows you to be involved in every step and see the work as it develops.
- My wedding invitation suites are the only designs that allow you to fully customize your invitation at a low cost.
Along with The Branding Process outline, I'm going to give you a look into how I use this process to design a brand step-by-step from initial consult to launch. Because I don't want to share any of my client's amazing brands before they are complete, I'm going to be walking you through the design of a business I created: Harvest, an eatery and market.
A brand statement is one of the most important elements of any brand - and it can be one of the most difficult. The brand statement is the overall guiding force of the brand. It states who you are, what you do, and who you work with. But it can't be simply a list of these items - it needs to include your mission, vision, and values as well.
HARVEST DOES MORE THAN SIMPLY SERVE GREAT FOOD - WE WORK WITH LOCAL FARMERS TO PROVIDE ORGANIC INGREDIENTS AND COOKING CLASSES TO HELP YOU TAKE HEALTHY HOME.
The Mood Board
It's important to create a mood board at the beginning of each project to keep your brand on track as it develops (you can read more about mood boards here). For Harvest, I wanted to create a brand that was organic, fresh, and welcoming without following the trends that work better in other industries.
This mood board is full of bright, intense colors and beautiful images of food - after all, a restaurant brand is centered around the food and atmosphere it creates. These images will help me choose a color palette, can be shown to a photographer before a photo shoot to give direction as to the image style, and guide the design of the overall brand and Squarespace website.
Not only will this mood board guide the brand basics - colors, fonts, overall feeling - but it will also guide the template I choose and the logo I design. Because branding is more than just the visual part of a business, this can also be shared with other people as they build separate parts of the brand - copy, marketing strategy, social media posts, etc.
Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family. I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.