We can agree it’s a bad idea to build a house by beginning at the roof and working downward.
And yet, countless entrepreneurs begin their brand strategy adventures by coming up with cool logos and catchy names. This isn’t so effective, either.
A company’s logo shouldn’t just take a backseat to the company’s philosophy—it should be thrown into the trunk until the brand strategy journey is complete. Why? Because a well-built brand is one that’s constructed on a strong foundation of research.
All aesthetic concerns must stem from that research and its findings.
So don’t even bust out the sketchpad before you’ve scoured the Earth for competitors who might already be doing and saying the things you plan to do and say.
Don’t go searching for colors and shapes before you’ve chatted with consumers in your field, interviewed stakeholders, dived deeply into competitors’ social media channels, and come to understand the lay of the land.
It all comes down to that simple principle you learned from your mother or grade school teachers: Listen before you speak.
The vast array of social media tools now at your disposal makes it easier than ever to listen to brands and audiences. Subscribe to competitors’ news blasts. Set up Google Alerts for any terms related to your field. Join the Facebook groups of every gaggle of like-minded folks in your category.
But keep your lips sealed until you’ve really figured out what to say and how to say it.
What good is a message that hasn’t been finely tuned for the audience it hopes to reach?
What good is a color scheme that might be off-putting to the target consumer, even as it is a personal favorite of the company’s CEO? Even the best of all businesses will flounder if consumers can’t find it, relate to it, and quickly recognize its value.
Effective brand strategy isn’t selling a product. It’s selling a feeling.
And by targeting that feeling towards exactly the right consumers at exactly the right time and in exactly the right way, your business won’t have to concern itself with selling much at all.
Because consumers will already recognize and feel comfortable with the language you speak.
Because it’s speaking directly to them.
Beginning your business venture with aesthetics that stem from your own tastes, and not from those of your targeted consumers, is a backwards approach to the process of branding.
In truth, there is no substitute for the time-consuming, painstaking, detail-focused gauntlet of research prior to design.
It may not be as easy or as fun as blue sky design thinking, but it’s sure to yield better results.