How to create a brand vision in 7 simple steps
Creating your brand’s vision is one of the most important steps you can take when it comes to strategic brand management. Over 10 years of direct brand, marketing and advertising experience has provided invaluable opportunities of implementing corporate brand vision and enforcing multi-channel marketing campaigns for many blue chip Australian brands, but what does it take to craft a brand vision? Here follows 7 simple steps that will point you in the right direction for creating a brand vision that resonates with you and your audience. Remember, people buy what you believe, not what you do!
Crafting a brand vision is a tactical process that demands the input of all of the brand’s top managers. Why? Because the vision determines the future of the brand which ripples down through the organisation. So take the opportunity to get time away from the office or workplace to get clear and understand the core messages that you want your brand to represent, communicate and convey to your ideal audience.
This mental and physical space away from the office is designed to help you gain both perspective and laser-focus on who you’re wanting to connect or get ‘in sync’ with. Begin by asking yourself what do you stand for? Has the vision changed since you last reviewed? Where is the business now? What do still you passionately believe? What drives you? What will resonate with your customers? How is that still relevant to them?
1. Begin with clarity and purpose: – Let’s keep things simple. Making the vision easily understood is critical to its success. Generally, brand vision statements must be simple, clear and easy to remember. Your staff should be able to memorise and emphasise the brand vision statements as brand ambassadors. Avoid buzz words and industry jargon wherever possible. They won’t resonate at all with your customer. Take a blank A4 paper or a white board and make a list of all messages that immediately come to mind regarding your brand and business vision. List all your thoughts – everything – there is no such thing as a wrong answer here. If you focus solely on your brand nothing should be dismissed or omitted at this stage. Put everything on the table. Map all your thoughts out until you’ve exhausted all options. Leave for 24 hrs and revisit. Well done, phase one is complete.
2. Mix it up a bit: – Brainstorming time! Its time to see things differently. Reflect on and revise any messages that strongly resonate until we are able to generate a series of messages that A. feels right, B. evokes what you feel your brand currently represents and crucially C. what you would like your brand to represent. Yes, a lot of the time there is a misalignment. This is the golden opportunity to achieve laser-focus, consensus and a clear vision for the business moving forward. Note: Remember this may be not what you personally or directly believe but what your brand and your brand advocates (customers) aspire to represent – this is an important distinction. If there is a discrepancy between where your brand is now and where you would like it to be then awesome! – you’ve just highlighted your brand road map or the steps you need to undertake to transform your brand from ‘A’ to ‘B’. Tip: focus less on the ‘thinking’ here, more on the feeling. Effective branding is about winning hearts & minds – we can only begin to tap and target these emotional centres by attuning ourselves to our beliefs, emotions, values, thoughts and feelings as well as those of our audience or ideal customer. Over thinking only leads to analysis paralysis.
3. Collect relevant images and appropriate motivational quotes into an image wall (or similar): – No, this is not fluff – its your market research. Visualisation and documentation are powerful processes – leverage them. Don’t be afraid to get creative for once – even if you’re not a so-called ‘creative’ type. You might surprise yourself. Jump in there and experiment. This is where the magic happens because its here where the insights reveal themselves. Visualising with imagery helps to get the creative juices flowing, pushes your thought process and focus into your creative brain ‘network’ or creative ‘mode’ while encouraging abstract thinking. Evoking your brand vision through imagery and quotes can help get your core vision and messages exposed, explored, expanded, assessed, articulated and documented. Logic, of course, has its place but in this creative process it comes a long second to imagination.
4. Above all else BE authentic: – ‘tell and BE your own story, everyone else is taken’ – as Oscar Wilde once confidently commented. If you’re not genuine or authentic in your brand vision people will sense that and act accordingly. Your brand vision will be relegated to little more than a platitude or a statement of intent rather than a burning belief or bold vision. It won’t hold the energy to connect with others if your story does not come directly from your heart and mind, nor will it motivate or inspire you on your business journey when times get tough. In these days of globally connected markets, being ‘unauthentic’ or ‘disingenuous’ is a direct route to brand suicide. The best tip I’ve heard about effective branding and marketing? Its simply to ‘care’ about your customer as you would yourself. A simple truism with echoes of authenticity. Express this care and state how you connect to your customers with the right messaging, genuinely, and you really can’t go wrong.
5. Challenge: I said I’d make this simple, not easy. An element of challenge in a vision is critical to achieve buy-in from all areas. Conversations around ‘Vision’ that are ambitious yet difficult tend to be perceived as positive by employees. Why? We all want to be challenged on some level. Aligning our efforts and energy on a specific challenge for everyone to aim at provides focus, desire, leadership, teamwork and necessary motivation. The next blog will expand on this!
6. Get excited and transmit that enthusiasm: – People resonate and respect others who are knowledgeable, caring and genuine when it comes to their business dealings. You can of course overdo this but transmitting that positivity and enthusiasm for your brand vision through all of your brand touch points, communications both internal and external, marketing channels and personal interactions with your customers, suppliers and associates will help to attract the kind of customer you want to work with. In doing so that enthusiasm will help to develop strong ongoing relationships with the people who matter most to you and who help you achieve your business goals – that’s right – staff, suppliers and customers.
7. Communicate, communicate, communicate: – it takes time, effort and imagination to create a brand vision but it takes strong, dynamic leadership, superior communication skills and emotional intelligence to truly ‘live’ the vision. Too often a brand vision is ignored, overlooked or discarded as a meaningless mantra that applies only to subordinates or a cynical marketing and leadership gimmick to provide an illusion of workforce ‘connectedness’. Crafting a vision doesn’t make sense if you don’t transmit it throughout your organisation effectively. Communicating the vision and sharing it effectively is vital for long-term viability and realising the brand vision. Research suggests that people will perceive you as a better leader if you are able to communicate your organisation’s vision more effectively. So why not start sharing your vision sooner plus a call to action for all leader’s to communicate their brand vision and lead by example.
I hope you gained some benefit and learned something new, insightful or useful.
As The Brand Entrepreneur, I’m passionate about creating brand stories & developing design assets that help brands get ‘in sync’ and connected to ‘customers they care’ about. Successful brands in the future care about customers, not branding. I believe that future is now. I help busy business owners and savvy entrepreneurs to ‘market smarter’ by deeply defining their ‘ideal’ customer with The ‘My Avatar’ Workshop.
Jamie – The Brand Entrepreneur