Do You Have A Brand Clarity Guide?
Do you have a Brand Clarity Guide?
Every single day your small business is faced with the daunting task of reaching out and grabbing attention, visually stimulating people, and captivating them! However, you can’t communicate well (visually, emotionally, or using any other sense) if you haven’t developed your brand clarity. Brand clarity is difficult to describe because it’s not necessarily a tangible thing you can look at and touch unless you create a guide. This guide is an organized understanding of what your business does, how and why it does it, what your business wants to be known for with dozens of brand elements to help represent those ideas. Brand elements are things like: style, colors, textures, graphics, photos, messaging and fonts that work TOGETHER to create one digital atmosphere and one CRYSTAL CLEAR experience.
I want to stress that deciding on which of these elements to use is a process, and since no two businesses are exactly the same, no two business identities are either. Finding multiple elements that work together to enhance the effectiveness of your business identity requires research and creative direction otherwise known as Brand Strategy. Everything we discover and develop throughout the brand strategy process is explained thoroughly in the Brand Clarity Guide. The old method of just choosing elements because they look nice, or because they meet the personal preference of the person in charge of those decisions (usually the business owner) is disappearing altogether because that method is just not effective.
Brand discovery specifically aims to enhance the brand experience a business offers, but not without first understanding:
what the business wants to accomplish
how the business operates
what inconsistencies and discrepancies that are contributing to an unclear experience
what they need to create for their client
what that client really needs from that business.
This is where the focus shifts to designing a business experience from the inside out. I always want to know what makes a business tick, so I often take an immersive look at the things that drive business reputation like:
Customer service and client experience
Messaging and copy
Brand culture and core principles
Standards of operations
Visual merchandising and interior decorating (for brick and mortar stores)
THIS IS WHERE I MENTION YOUR AUDIENCE 1 MILLION TIMES
Then and only then can we move on to researching this audience, who they are, and how we can make them feel extraordinary.
The audience holds a lot of control over your business success, so impressing them with a thoughtful experience rather than a flashy one is becoming more and more essential. The online business world is a competitive frontier with nearly every business having a website. It’s just not enough anymore. It’s important to have a site, but to also have one that is strategically created to speak to each sense and need of your intended target audience. This is only one of many reasons thoughtful sensual design is the most effective and should always start with brand clarity discovery.
NOT THAT KIND OF SENSUAL
sen • su • al adjective : relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses.
The human condition and experience is best gratified when indulged by a thoroughly pleasing experience. I define a thorough, thoughtful and useful brand experience as one that can effectively make someone feel well cared for and valued. Imagine walking into a space and feeling like it was designed just for you and how exhilarating that would be. Imagine feeling completely understood and catered to. You can offer that to your audience online by:
taking the necessary time to understand the needs and emotions of your community and
Understanding how best to communicate with them through all the senses in a digital space
Deciding how you want to represent your business and tell an important story.
To create an emotionally impactful experience is to create a memorable one. As a brand strategist I don’t want to create businesses that just look nice, it’s much more effective to create a business that feels amazing, and becomes something people
WANT to talk about
want to return to
You might be wondering Why? Business success isn’t the responsibility of a brand strategist. And my response is simple: shouldn’t it be? Branding should be able to help your business grow because if should be helping you better communicate!
THE FUN PART
Once there is a crystal clear framework for how a business operates we can move on to the creative side of branding that most people are more familiar with. However, we’re still not jumping into creating a logo or a website just yet. There’s so much to decide before we can get to that. The creative process includes selecting colors, materials, textures, shapes, patterns, creative direction, visuals, marketing, social media content, photoshoot concepts, props, digital graphics, and fonts. And the BEST PART is it’s all selected for a reason beyond just looking nice or trendy. It all serves a USEFUL purpose in expanding the experience it aims to offer.
This is NOT where we just throw together some visuals in a mood board and call it a day, although most DIY branding is exactly that. Literally anyone can make a moodboard and spend a few hours on Pinterest, but that doesn’t mean it makes any sense or that it will work.
It’s worth a giggle for me when people think branding is just a mood board, or just a logo, but it’s not their fault. DIY branding directives are giving a false sense of security. A moodboard isn’t anything without answers to the proper questions and a branding professional is there to help answer them. It’s more important to focus on the actual mood first before you get to any visuals, but that almost always gets lost in translation for someone inexperienced. It’s super important to understand why setting or evoking a particular mood is important to your business, and the intended audience because it gives purpose to each creative decision, which helps you clearly communicate.
PERKS OF THE GUIDE
A Brand Clarity guide outlines all of these aspects and elements so a business can reference it any time it needs. When I create these guides in my process that Brand Clarity Guide looks like a 3-5 page PDF file. A Brand Clarity Guide helps the business stay consistent and cohesive. It helps to maintain the original integrity of the intended brand and holds future creative decisions accountable for meeting the original objectives. It also helps the design process. It helps your designer deliver a website and logo that fits the needs of your business and audience, and it cuts down on lengthy resubmissions which can make creating an effective website or logo take much longer. Last, The Brand Clarity Guide helps you to maintain your brand long term and continue to create content for marketing on social media and other online advertising in a consistently recognizable and captivating way!
Now that you know what you didn’t know before I have some important questions for you: If you don’t have a Brand Clarity Guide what is holding your brand consistency together? How are you creating content that spreads your message and reflects your values? How are you reaching your people, and growing your business reputation? How do you plan to establish your recognition going forward?
If you’re really in need of an effective brand reputation that helps you more clearly speak to your audience I would love to chat!