Updated on October 11, 2023.

Strategy

Why start with branding?

We hear a lot of bullsh*t related to branding.

Bullsh*t #1:

I don't need to hire an agency to make my logo.

There are generators and other online tools, thus I can do it myself.

Take Wix Logo Maker, for example!

Bullsh*t #2:

Action > Planning

Branding is intellectual masturbation. We must move forward. We must test.

It will happen as we go along.

Why is it always a mistake to focus on the short term?

It's true that in the end, it's not stupid to make your logo yourself or to take action rather than being stuck in the brainstorming phase.

It's great to try to find solutions to move forward and develop your project thoroughly!

It's great... for the short term. The real problems come in the future. The real problems come after a few years and after a few short-term strategies.

Strategy: let's go back to the definition

Many people see strategy as a useless step toward achieving goals. Many think that strategy is a way to avoid confronting the ground reality, the practical implementation.

The problem is that strategy is actually the opposite.

A strategy is the definition of a sequence of actions to achieve a specific objective.

In other words, strategy is what links all your actions together. It is not the thing that will prevent you from taking action, quite the contrary!

Why is strategy frowned upon?

Many people use strategy as a way to avoid taking action. These people use this process to create an endless loop of brainstorming.

What you don't want to do is give in to fear and sabotage yourself by using the strategy as an infinite phase that you can't get out of.

Lay out your strategy, then take action!

Like a commando mission, if "the plan ain't going as planned" improvise from it. You will benefit from all the analysis done in the strategy phase and from your analysis of the terrain when you take action. The best way to improvise is to have a game plan to build on.

If after your little improvisation stunt you see a way to stick to the plan, do it... and so on until the end of the commando mission.

Once the mission is over, you are back at the base in the operations room. Take time to debrief the mission to learn how to make better plans to better improvise in a controlled and calm manner 馃憣

Branding is your plan, your map, and your compass at the same time

In branding there are three ultra-important phases to be done in this exact order:

  1. Strategy

  2. Positioning

  3. Identity

These three phases allow you to get going while avoiding business and branding mistakes. They allow you to give the right image of yourself during your adventure and also allow the world to trust your team.

Let's use the commando mission analogy again. With proper branding upfront:

  • You have a plan (brand strategy)

  • You have a map of the terrain with the obstacles and your objectives (positioning, a.k.a. brandscape)

  • You have the right outfits that protect you from bullets and make you look stylish #FatSWAG (brand identity)

  • You have a compass to find your way on the battlefield (strategy + positioning + manifesto = brand platform)

  • You can take action and try some crazy stuff because you have all the ins and outs to get the job done. If you're brought in, you know how to improvise because you've imagined some of the contingencies before the battle.

Boom, you have everything you need to get the job done:

  • by completing all the objectives

  • in just a few hours

  • on maximum difficulty

  • as a team

  • with your eyes closed

  • with only a knife

  • a gun loaded with a single bullet

  • even wounded with hands and feet tied

In other words, when you have thought through your brand image, you have the feeling that there are no problems anymore. We even have the impression that there are only opportunities.

Classic mistakes to avoid in branding

With time, we notice some classic mistakes that all of us have made and that it's better to avoid. Be mindful. You'll rock the house in the short term as well as in the long.

Naming

We choose a name and a logo, and here we go. We jump into the adventure!

The problem is that your name will remain throughout the years.

People will talk about you using this name. That's how they will recognize you.

If you realize too late that your name is wrong from the start, you will have a big problem: you will have to change it, and your brand will lose momentum.

You'll spend a phenomenal amount of energy telling everyone: Blablabla has become ThingyThing.

You'll need to set your strategy to find a good name that makes sense with your brand.

There are thousands of names that can fit what you do.

But only a few names will fit the depth of your brand and convey the right feeling to build trust within your community.

  1. Lay it down, and define your brand in depth.

  2. Brainstorm names that stick with the essence.

  3. Select the best name in terms of feeling and meaning.

Your name should be :

  • different from the competition

  • short: 4 syllables or less

  • appropriate, but not too descriptive (avoid sounding too generic)

  • easy to spell

  • satisfying to pronounce

  • convenient for wordplay (brand play)

  • legally defensible

  • available as a domain name

Wanting to go too fast

You want to rebrand quickly.

You don't see the value in establishing a strategy.

You skip the strategy and positioning steps too fast to solve your 鈥減roblem鈥: finally getting that new identity.

It's a choice, but know that you'll have laid wall-to-wall carpeting over less-than-strong load-bearing walls.

The strategy and positioning of your brand require time and, above all, perspective. You must be careful to validate the content of these steps with a clear mind, as your overall identity will depend on the strategic definition of your brand.

Not valuing enough strategy

As you have understood at the beginning of this article, strategy is THE most critical phase of your project. If you neglect it, everything else will rest on shaky foundations.

You must see your brand strategy as a practical tool for :

  • business decisions

  • your company's culture

  • the proper execution of your marketing campaigns

  • selling your product/service

  • team cohesion

  • external partnerships

  • your overall communication

Without this tool, you are at sea without compass and stars to guide you.

After all, many are sailing blind and doing well overall.

That doesn't mean you have to do the same. Give yourself the best chance to get through it.

Putting ego in your logo

We often see this situation. One of the founders of a business has design skills and creates the brand's logo himself. No worries, it's a good idea at the beginning of a project.

Let's call this founder Thomas.

One day, the brand's identity needs to evolve. The founders call in outside help to do the work. They hire a branding agency/studio.

However, like any human, the founder who made the logo is attached emotionally to it. Again, no problem.

The agency/studio does its job and redesigns the logo. That is when some Thomases can't let go of their old design emotionally.

At this point, it's no longer the welfare of the brand that concerns Thomas... but his ego.

If you are in this situation in the future, help Thomas put the brand's issues back at the center of the discussion. Thomas has done nothing wrong. He's only human.

If your brand is done right, it will (usually) help you avoid this trap and avoid falling into other ego traps.

To all the Thomases out there, we love you! 馃

Believing that branding is only for external communication.

We often think we need to work on branding to help the outside world understand us better.

In reality, those who need to understand your brand first and foremost are the people who are behind it!

Your strategy, your brandscape (positioning), and your brand platform (synthetic document making strategy and positioning accessible to everyone) will enable you to do this job and bring all your collaborators together around a shared vision.

You will witness miracles happen:

  • All your teams will be hyped even after 6 months in the company

  • In-house, everyone will be able to explain what the brand is to anyone

  • In difficult times, your teams will stand together

  • You will no longer recruit talent, but geniuses that share your values

  • One morning you'll wake up walking on water. During afterworks, you'll give away free glasses of wine made from Aquafina 馃

Why start with branding?

How about a recap of everything we've just said?

By starting with branding:

  • You'll avoid pitfalls related to culture, image, and business.

  • Most of the individual or collegial decisions will be easier to make.

  • You'll make your HR team happy during the recruitment process.

  • You will know where to focus and how to communicate at all times.

  • Communicating will no longer be a pain, but a strength.

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Written by

PROVOK

CEO and founder of Mental Breakdown. I'm an entrepreneur driven by a passion for accuracy, communication and sharing. My thing is fixing business and personal development related problems (for nosy people: provok.land).