Brand strategy

Brand strategy

Why this is important

Great brands, either by evolution or design, are clear about what they stand for and the value they deliver. Far outweighing the importance of brand symbology, the level of connection you can create with your customers and team depends on your brand speaking compellingly, consistently and with authenticity. A holistic approach to brand development ensures genuine value creation over time.

DPR&Co’s brand development process begins with the strategic elements of the brand and moves through to the creative and executional elements we’re concerned with here.

DPR&Co Brand Strategy Roadmap

Immersion

Gaining the deepest possible understanding of the objectives and requirements for the strategy is vital and includes:

  • A business review – a review of existing research, business plans and strategy documents, supported with site visits to any and all relevant locations to gain insights into your operations, ambitions, market context and ‘client’ experience.
  • Landscape and benchmarks – desk audit on your competitors, the cultural landscape and market, to assess the market positioning opportunity and how best to differentiate your offer. DPR&Co will also draw on learnings from global best practice, trends/future landscape and other categories facing similar challenges/opportunities.
  • A communications review – an audit of existing communication materials and channels to understand the how and what of your communications, your positioning and potential requirements (number and type of applications/formats) for the style-guide.

Research

Key stakeholder views are then canvassed to further inform the brand strategy:

  • Internal stakeholder research – we believe one-to-one conversations with key stakeholders and employees are critical for gaining valuable insights about your business, your audiences, and understanding what’s working and what’s not, along with the reputation drivers of the market. To gain a robust understanding of your audience’s attitudes, needs and desires, we facilitate a phased data gathering approach with key stakeholders to explore and better understand each audience (to feed into ideation and design of brand positioning and identity concepts).
  • External qualitative and quantitative research – we recommended a mix of depth interviews, focus groups and workshops, evenly spread across the different audience types.
  • We will finalise the qualitative sample structure in consultation with your team. This sets the agenda for quantitative research to provide a control suite of metrics by which to measure ongoing brand health.

Brand positioning

We work with you to define your positioning – who you are and what you will stand for in the future – along with a set of values and competencies that will shape culture and inform key decisions. We are then able to build out the full brand platform – your Brand Story.

An important part of this stage is the assessment of what the implications would be of adopting a particular positioning territory and your capability and/or willingness to deliver on the obligations that come with it.

Brand archetypes

It’s often said that there are only 7 basic plot archetypes in Hollywood movies and that, while there may be elements of other archetypes that circle the core plot, there is a core theme that is centred on one of the following:

  • Overcoming the monster
  • Rags to riches
  • The quest
  • Voyage and return
  • Comedy
  • Tragedy
  • Rebirth/redemption

In the same way, it’s been said that there are 12 brand archetypes. Choosing one as the basis for your strategic positioning can be a valuable pathway to agreement and progress.

The brand archetypes in most textbooks include; the innocent, the everyman, the hero, the outlaw, the explorer, the creator, the ruler, the magician, the lover, the caregiver, the jester and the sage. We think this list is more granular and less practical and easily understood as it could be. Here’s ours:

The enabler – positioning as the brand that is behind you achieving your goals; Amazon, CBA, Australian Unity, Lite and Easy, Accenture, IKEA

The innovator – positioning as being on the leading edge of thinking; Apple, Google, TAG, Mercedes Benz, Tesla

The contender – making a virtue out of not being the biggest or best known but striving; Avis went number one using this approach against Hertz in a famous case study. Also, Bendigo Bank, Samsung, Airbus

Safe hands – offering certainty through excellence; Qantas, Toyota, Seiko

Naturally empathetic – positioning based on being in tune with nature and people’s better natures; Patagonia, Natio, Peregrine

Anti-brand – positioning as a brand for those that eschew brands; Saab, Birkenstock, Jalna, International Watch Company,

Strength in size – IBM, Microsoft, Boeing, General Electric (especially a decade or so ago)

Only for the few – an unashamed positioning around conferred prestige; Purdy, Rolls Royce, Bugatti, Patek Philippe, Manolo Blahnik, Domaine de La Romanée-Conti, Hermes

Won’t be beaten – positioning on a quotient of value; Bunnings, Kia, Harvey Norman

Choosing from one of these brand archetypes is often hard. Remember that you’re looking for the dominant archetype. There will be leanings towards others (or parts thereof) that you can encompass within your brand articulation.

Brand articulation

Taking the key tenets of your new brand positioning, we develop them into an engaging, inspiring narrative that tells the story of your brand and its point of view on the world.

At the centre of this short manifesto-style document will be a ‘brand essence statement’ – the key strength or principle that runs through the core of your business and acts as a ‘rallying cry’ for your organisation.

We will then build out the full brand platform, consisting of the following elements:

  • Competitive positioning territory – the primary benefit that the brand owns in the market
  • Brand essence – the brand’s fundamental reason for being
  • Brand pillars – what the brand will rely upon to prove its reason for being
  • Inherent competitive strengths – the brand’s unique proof and selling points that make up each pillar
  • Benefits – how the proof points benefit our target audiences
  • Values – the code by which your brand lives
  • Personality traits – the human characteristics of your brand
  • Tone of voice – How the personality will be delivered

Options for brand expression

In the concept design phase, DPR&Co will explore how the brand story is best brought to life creatively and seamlessly – how will the brand feel, sound and behave – across multiple touchpoints.

Using visual references and language, we begin by putting together a series of mood-boards and narratives to convey the brand’s key attributes and express its personality. The team will then brainstorm effective ways to experience the brand at the key point of interaction.

We will present our ideas in the form of initial concepts, covering the brand experience; from visual identity and communications, through to physical spaces and digital interactions. This will ensure a holistic, integrated approach.

Key messaging and tone of voice

As brands communicate verbally as much as visually, a unique tone of voice is often a quicker road to market differentiation and resonance with your audience. Your verbal identity is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the brand experience – it’s an opportunity to deliver the brand consistently at every touch point.

DPR&Co will develop a brand voice that aligns with your brand strategy and identity. It will be defined using ‘a persona’ (e.g. the Pragmatic Optimistic) as an example of a person with similar voice characteristics (what they would and would not say) will be provided so that you have a simple, relatable point of reference.

Visual identity

Based on the approved creative framework, we then develop the identity for all agreed elements of the brand experience within our scope.

We start with creating concepts for the brand look and feel, then build out the core identity – both visual and verbal. Working to your unique selling points, we will look to utilise the key messages and supporting proof points.

These form the core ingredients to apply in a range of contexts – rounding out the full user experience

Deliverable – brand manifesto and brand standards

DPR&Co will develop a set of flexible guidelines to provide all brand implementers with a user-friendly guide on how to apply the brand across all touch points, from physical and digital to printed communications.

DPR&Co creates simple tools and rules so that each communication has a consistent look and feel across your key audience needs. The guidelines will contain best practice examples so that each constituent can execute the new brand identity confidently in any situation.