In this post you're going to learn exactly what brand consultancy is, why your business needs it to survive, and how to use it for both short and long term business goals.
What is Brand Consultancy?
Brand consultancy is a collaborative process that helps companies of any size to develop their brand and marketing strategy. The process could be anything from a short 7-day sprint to solve a specific problem, to a full 12-week strategy going in-depth on goal-setting, market research, messaging, competitor analysis, product development, brand personality, and customer avatars. More on that later...
The purpose of brand consultancy is to do one or more of the following:
- Outline goals and ways to reach them
- Create a unique offer that attracts customers
- Define a niche and market position (or move into a new one)
- Discover gaps in the market for new product and service development
- Clarify thoughts and align decisions of key stakeholders
- Develop company values and culture to guide hiring and firing decisions
- Offer an outside perspective on how to grow the business and brand
- Give long-term business direction using a roadmap
Isn't Branding About Logos, Fonts and Colour Schemes?
Nope! This is the most common misconception we see when it comes to brand strategy. A brand is determined by the perceptions people have with a company and the product or service they offer. Think of it as your reputation, your personality, and the reason why people buy from you. This is what brand consultancy seeks to influence and solve. Tangible assets like logos, fonts, and colour schemes are a part of this process and make up your brand identity (or visual identity), but the wider goal of how you build a brand, influence behaviour, and attract loyal customers comes under brand strategy.
If your brand were a person then brand strategy would be your values, your interests, and why people connect with you. Brand identity would be your hairstyle, the clothes you wear, and people's first impression of you.
Think of it this way - brand identity is the first impression you make on consumers, brand strategy is how you get them to love you and continue buying from you.
Why Brand Strategy Means Business Survival
Make no mistake - building a brand is hugely valuable for the profitability of any business. It's what makes your offer memorable, it's how you attract and retain customers, and it's how you give longevity to your business. It's no surprise that industry titans like Coca Cola and Nestlé boast brands worth tens of billions of dollars. That's why their logos command a price premium, that's why customers rave about them and go out of the way to buy from them.
Some business owners misunderstand the value of brand because it appears "fluffy" and intanfiglbe (logical/rational types, we're looking at you!). Remember this... you're selling to real people with a real problem. You may have the solution to that problem, but that won't be enough to compete with the thousands of other companies offering the same thing as you.
So how do you make those customers choose you? By carefully researching and creating a well-thought out strategy. The market tells you what it needs, you just need to listen. People buy using emotion and then justify it with logic afterwards. Use your brand to connect with them emotionally and then let the benefits of your product justify that decision in their minds.
Do I Need a Complete Strategy or a Short Sprint?
How deep you dive into strategy will depend on two things; the existing state of the brand and the size of problem being solved. If you're a small company that's either just starting or that has been growing steadily over a few years and you haven't done brand strategy before, then this is the best option for you. It's also great for those looking to reposition, rebrand or move into a new market, and will save you spending a heck of a lot of money in the wrong places.
Ultimately if you're making a big business decision or you're on the precipice of a big growth spurt then the full strategy process will guide you in these important next stages of your business. It will also help you to build an intangible asset that will compound in value over time.
If you're an established business or already have a brand strategy then you might want to bring in a consultant to help solve a specific business problem or to give an outside perspective on the brand. Often decision makers are too close to the day to day operations of the business and it can be difficult to spot and solve problems. Bringing in a brand consultant is a fantastic way to identify problems that have gone unnoticed. They can ideate, prototype, test and feedback on potential solutions quickly and collaboratively. Some examples might include auditing brand awareness, innovating new products, addressing culture problems, and gathering consumer insights to name just a few.
Ultimately the role of a brand strategist is to come up with creative ways to solve business problems and identify where to allocate resources.
To recap: Don't have a brand strategy? Start here and go for the full end-to-end process. Already have a brand strategy but need a specific business problem solved? Go for a short sprint.
Get Branded or Get Banished
So there's good news and there's bad news...
The bad news is having a brand is no longer a negotiable. With nearly a million new businesses started every year in the UK, having a strong brand with a clear positioning has become a must-have. Without it, you won't survive.
The good news is you now have the solution to keep your business profitable for decades to come. All you need to do is develop a thorough brand strategy and continue to execute on it. Any time you come across a new challenge, you simply repeat the sprint process with a brand expert to continue moving forward.
One last takeaway; a strategy is only as good as its execution. You need to be living and breathing your values and goals if you're going to truly connect with your target audience. This is how you keep your team happy and your business profitable for decades to come.