Previously, the massive tasks enlisted of holistic branding of a brand or a corporation or a person may frighten people. Every task has its purpose however. Some are used to countercheck previous thoughts that you have made, and to proceed to another task. Once you put something into words, you naturally think logically… Alright, you may argue that it depends on what language you are using. Here, I am referring to use English in general.
“A brand is the intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.” – David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising
Holistic branding consists of numerous tasks, both tangible and intangible. Drezier Communications approaches with five steps. By each step, neccessary tasks have to be accomplished. Here and now we suggest how to start.
When your organization are building a new brand, you simply start from step one of our approach. When an existing brand are going to revamp or revitalize to cope its stage of development, you are actually in step five of our recurring approach. Generally speaking, you can right begin with step one.
The truth that our recurring approach could not be simpler. Some branding specialists have put like three smaller steps equivalent to our one step of derivation. Sustainment of a brand is an indisputable natural step of the nature of branding. Our point is that we emphasize our holism of branding process and tasks. Here is a breakdown of our approach.
Five Recurring Steps of Drezier’s Approach to Holistic Branding
- Step 1: Understanding (results in insight and inspirations);
- Step 2: Derivation (results in brand essence and strategies);
- Step 3: Rethink (results in improvement and wholeness of derivation);
- Step 4: Implementation (results in dressier craftsmanship of deliverables);
- Step 5: Sustainment (results in more desirable brand and better environments);
- As time passes, business environment will change or the brand will go into another stage of development. Go back to Step 1: Understanding.
Here’s an infographic of our approach of holistic branding that we have been developed:
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The Comprehensive Approach
In our previous post, we have elaborated definition of holistic branding and an extensive list of tasks. These tasks were accomplished not only all alone within the organization, but partly outside. An outside think-tank would provide fresh, wider perspective towards the whole branding process at a particular juncture. The best timing is definitely right at the beginning of brand building. The longer the branding proceeds off course, the more diverged from the most advantageous course it would be.
The development of a brand can be roughly divided into four stages: 1) birth stage; 2) loyalty stage; 3) growth stage; and 4) reinvigorate stage. In different stage of a brand development, varying tasks and tactic are needed. Thus, a recurring approach comes naturally. Yet brand essence should be hardly changed once formulated. However, refinement of brand essence may be activated in reinvigorate stage.
Step 1: Understanding
Within an organization, a deliberate study of business model should be held before formulating a brand. Equally, a branding consultant or agency has to understand what the organization portrays the brand to be. In this step, you should discover as much and wide as you can, though very likely you think you know very well. The truth is you are going to formulate a brand to win a dominant position in people’s mind. An external party helps to achieve.
External atmosphere and internal enviroments, offline and online, would be put into fine study. Global trends, such as omnichannel in retailing, sustainability in environmental concerns, or even triple-bottom-line in corporate social responsibilities (CSR), are consolidated from insight into inspiration of brand formulation.
If the brand is not in a birth or building stage, a brand audit should be included to inspect the current state of the brand. Otherwise, vision-mission-values (VMV), culture and business plan of your organization are examined. The philosophy and hierarchy of product (or service) of the brand you wanted to build should be very clearly established. Brand architecture and nomenclature of your current brands owned are also reviewed.
Step 2: Derivation
Further on deriving essential articulation, this step involves mostly brainwork of left brain. Writings of brand essence and strategies will be compiled from inspiration of brand formulation before. Extensive thorough branding of your brand is comprehensively masterminded, not yet started designing identities. Truthfully, this interprets holistic branding, the real branding in modern days.
Brand essence is the properties of all components of your brand without which it would not be what it is. These indispensable quality of the brand determines its existence to people’s mind. They are largely written works which include vision, assets, philosophy, DNA, targets, story, culture, persona, aesthetic, positioning, voice, experience and perception of your brand.
Besides, writings of strategic works put down ultimate guideline of policy making. There can be quite a number of visual inspirations included. To be the most accurate before spinning into deliverables, strategy of product, integrated marketing and branding presence are formulated to solidify what your brand might be perceived by audience, by people.
Step 3: Rethink
Rethink is as well critical (in every creative processes indeed.) Cooling down from being too focused, every personnel within or tangential your organization should pause thinking the project for days and resume later. By then, the creative process of deriving brand essence and strategies is re-examined. From all raw discoveries to VMV of the organization, every single attribute is fitted into formulation of your brand again. This ensures the derived brand essence is a proper solution.
In the process of holistic branding, there exists a full set of rules of branding presence – identity presence, product presence, digital presence, retail presence and market presence. We are living in an environment full of adversities, and so are brands. Portrait of your brand should be reviewed at this stage, before any implementations. Your organization and branding consultant should sit down and rethink all strategies before it is too late and needed to reverse implementations which are mostly an external activities.
Perseveringly, a step of rethink would refine articulation towards a more appealing impression and superb calibre of the brand. And it is a good save.
Step 4: Implementation
People tend to be impatient. They jump straight to this step without any guideline. They engage designers to design logo. Remember. Logo is different from brandmark.
With all the articulations written, a great consensus is built among parties. Every deliverables is working together under one guide. Look and feel are all cohesive to brand aesthetic. Tone and manner are stuck to brand persona. Identities are designed to identify your brand in each sense – visual, sonic, smell, taste and touch. Implementation of various deliverables can be much more strategically aligned and mentally cut-through.
True to holistic implementation, touchpoints of your brand are created further down. These include websites, social media, environments, outlets, signages, product design, packaging, vehicles, uniforms, collateral and advertising. Every touchpoint has a specific role of communication. They bring out brand experience. Some push brand perception. Messages spread brand voice. After all, touchpoints are milking to aim at winning a position in people’s mind.
Step 5: Sustainment
Naturally, all deliverables are created to sustain a brand. But there are a lot of works behind. Holistic branding involves internal branding. Your organization should convey branding communication deeper inside and tangential. Standardized branding toolkit is needed to be compiled to assist brand sustainment. Typically, tools, including identity system guideline, sales & marketing tool, media relation portal, and retailing guideline, are accomplished externally.
Tools build brand experience. Directorate of your organization has to fortify your brand’s foundation. It is essential to manage crisis of your brand, certification, intellectual property and corporate social responsibility. These management establish a good will of brand promise.
Large proportion of tasks are active. However, there are much passive. That does not mean your organization has nothing to do. To observe your brand development closely, you can attain branding audit and customer survey from time to time. Also, you have to pay attention to global and local trending in all aspects.
Lastly, we would like to raise the issue of environmental and social sustainability at the same time. Corporate social responsibility is a belief that any organization is not going to ignore.
To conclude, I put up some tips in our approach of holistic branding:
1. When Critical is Critical
These five steps of holistic branding are fundamental. They are each critical to branding. Unfortunately, most people only practise step 1 and 4. Step 2 is essential; whilst 3 and 5 are truly influential. When derived essence and strategies guide branding forces, and when invigorated rethink and sustainment refine branding sophistication, your brand start to push up to the top of the ladder of people’s mind.
2. Not Only for Giant Brand
It seems there are too much tasks for a small business. The answer is negative. Not all tasks are in the same priority. Brand essence buildup is the most important task. Once you determined, there are directions to follow. Then, brand identity is a must. All the other tasks have its order of importance. It is very cliché to say that these priorities depend on your experience, expenditure and timing. But it is true. Nevertheless, ask for help from your branding consultant.
For small business, in the step of derivation, you can simply drop down keywords or attributes in your articulation of tasks. It is always a piece between two people, or just for yourself. If you are working in a large organization, detailed documents had to be written to communicate with the rest. These simple records help you stick with them, or crosscheck with steps later on. Do set off with the aid of drawings and Post-it™.
3. Keep Open-minded
Bear in mind, holistic branding is a full process of tasks that are tangible, intangible as well as in-between. It is created to be seen and to be felt. But that does not mean that you determine which deliverables to deliver because of your feeling. Every task is to fight your brand for a higher position in people’s mind, not yours. So, listen to advise. Tangibles or intangibles are by far hard to create under substantial requirements; in-betweens are far more complex. Collaboration from independent task force is one of the way to excel at your battle.
Good luck, officer!
- “Designing Brand Identity” by Alina Wheeler (2013; Fourth edition)
- “Aaker on Branding” by David Aaker (2014)
- Blog by Seth Godin: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/
- Playlist on branding in our Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFanv4CT6EJgsSJ2zLfHM_WYkuUnEFy-U