Branding is not difficult. Or, it does not need to be. Brand strategy begins with language. You just need a clear focus and an identity that makes you different. Some people call this a “unique sales proposition”: simply the thing that makes you stand out a little from others. Brand strategists and brand consultants begin by simply studying what you’ve got, listening to your goals and values, comparing you to others, and then expressing your position in words. This first expression is the brand brief. It articulates the purpose for the brand or rebrand, defines the audience or market, analyzes the competition’s approach, defines your unique sales proposition, and then narrows in on a number of ways of expressing your identity. For example, we might write a “brand essence,” which distills the business and feel of your identity into a few words. Or a “brand promise,” which expresses the thing your market can get only from you. Or even a “brand statement,” which is a bit like a manifesto or an argument in favour of your business or project. (Most of this is never shared externally, but some of it might be.) Next we move on to “tone of voice,” which defines the kind of language that will form the basis of your brand. (How you talk to your audience determines the kind of relationships you build.) After all of this, a graphic language is developed to realize the mood, personality, and world of meaning you’ve begun to build. Not just logos and fonts, but an entire approach to visual communication design. Again, differentiation from the competition is huge here, as is an understanding of your audience or market. Finally, both the verbal brand and the graphic identity are tested. The chosen text and graphic vernacular then form the basis of a brand that can be successfully applied to web sites, print, digital and physical products, the works.

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