After creating my first brand book for PARLOUR, I realized I had underestimated a very important aspect of the branding process — client feedback.
I took the decision during the planning stages of my portfolio project to pitch my brand books and concepts to companies AFTER I created them. A big part of this decision was simply a lack of time to set meetings and finalize contracts. I wanted to make sure a majority of my time would be spent creating the actual project rather than getting permission to do it.
I plan to continue my project past the one-month period and spend month two pitching to companies and working with them to bring the brand concepts to life and/or jump on other opportunities for them. However, during the actual brand book creation process, I still have run into the issue of a lack of client knowledge and feedback that often helps foster more ideas, inspiration and overall confidence that you’re on track with the client’s needs.
Although I did very extensive research on PARLOUR, I could see that the lack of client feedback had held me back in some areas of my creative process. After an intense week of successes and some failures, I came up with five big questions to ask about a company to really understand a brand and then further develop it.
1) WHAT IS THE MISSION?
I think the best missions can be captured cleverly in two sentences or less. The fewer the words the better.
Some great examples of this:
Squarespace – “Squarespace makes beautiful products to help people with creative ideas succeed.”
Kickstarter – “To help bring creative projects to life.”
Paypal – “To build the Web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.”
2) WHAT IS THE VISION?
This can be confused with the mission but the best way to differentiate the two is to remember, a mission is the now and the vision is the later, more long-term statement. It’s helpful to ask yourself, what will the brand ultimately become?
3) WHO IS THE TARGET AUDIENCE?
It’s easy to say everyone, but every brand needs to have focus on what demographic(s) they’re targeting. The average 60-year-old isn’t that invested in what Netflix show is coming out next or Chipotle’s latest hilarious tweet. Brand voice and personality are especially tied to marketing efforts, so it’s important to identify who you are speaking to.
4) WHAT ARE THE TOP 3-5 WORDS TO DESCRIBE THE BRAND’S PERSONALITY (AND SOME WORDS THAT DON’T)?
With PARLOUR, in particular, I found narrowing down 3 keywords to capture their brand and convey in a mood board to be a really helpful exercise. It helped to understand how all their different elements come together to form the bigger picture of who they are. Equally, it was also very helpful to identify what they are not. For example, PARLOUR is a vegan bakery. But they are NOT a “raw”, “health-food” type eatery. These are common tag words associated with vegan food and places, so it was important to make the distinction clear.
5) WHAT ARE THE CORE VALUES OF THE BRAND?
What does your brand believe that nobody else does? What is important to you? What do you stand for? Identifying the core values a brand carries really helps to set you apart from other companies as well as forge a connection with your customers. I really enjoyed The Cult Branding Company’s article on core values and just how much significance they hold in the branding process. They also provide great examples of companies with strong core values in use today.
These are the five questions I’m answering now for each company I do branding work with. I hope you find them as useful as I do!