Designing a Brand Strategy – What You Need to Know
Whether you’re looking to create a new visual identity, refresh an existing brand, or go back to the drawing board for a complete overhaul, there can be a lot to consider when designing a brand strategy to ensure a new brand hits the mark.
We’re often asked what our biggest considerations are when beginning a brand project, so we’ve put together some of our top tips for brand strategy. We’d love to hear your thoughts…
The Purpose of a Brand
In the first instance, it’s important to consider the driving forces behind your branding or rebranding project.
Updating your brand can mark a new chapter in your business, demonstrating to your customers that you’re growing or evolving. The most important thing to remember is that your brand reflects where your business is now and your aspirations for where you’re going to be in the future. Your brand project should be designed to encapsulate these aspirations.
Revolution or Evolution?
Many businesses start from scratch when rebranding, which, to us, demonstrates a wholesale shift in your business offer.
Sometimes this is appropriate, but don’t forget brands like Shell, Apple and VW. These firms have all refined their brand to move with the times, but they remain faithful to their established brand identity.
This approach allows businesses to draw upon their heritage and longevity, showing customers that they offer stability and trustworthiness.
What Your Brand Represents
Once you’ve decided that a brand project is right for your business, you’ll need to carefully consider your offer. What is it exactly that you do? Don’t just think about the day-to-day processes or high-level offer; what do people actually gain from being your customer? What is the end result of your product or service?
People often think being pigeonholed is a bad thing, but we believe that the opposite is true. Offering something that no-one else can is a huge selling point, and means that you can price accordingly — as an expert in your field. Specialisms can also boost your website’s SEO. When a person needs your specific products and services, your name should be at the top of the search results.
Embrace Your Niche
Your Unique Personality
Your brand should express who you are and what you stand for, which can be leveraged to attract your target audience.
While some brand personalities are more obvious than others (think Apple) no two businesses are the same, and this should be reflected when designing a Brand Strategy. From the people that make up your business, your specialisms, your passions and even your fears, there’s lots to draw upon to create a unique personality for your brand.
Key Brand Components: Visual
The visual tone of your brand says everything about you before any website or writing can.
From your logo design to the typeface and photographic style you use, everything plays a part in setting the scene and encouraging a potential buyer or client to engage with you. It can be useful to see how your brand compares visually with your competitors visually to make sure you fit in while also making an impression.
Key Brand Components: Written
Tone of Voice
Written and spoken words are one of the most straightforward ways of getting your company’s message across and should never be overlooked in your brand project.
How does your brand sound? Friendly? Authoritative? Informative? How do you think your customers would like to be spoken to? Try a few different options and see what feels right, and what resonates with your target audience.
Taking a look at the competition (both like-for-like and aspirational competition) will give you a good sense of where your overall market is. In-depth competitor analysis will give you the background knowledge to position your brand at the right level. You can also ensure that your brand stands out within your market. This will make you more visible and also demonstrate that you see things in a unique way, offering something that no-one else can!
We would never recommend that you copy your competition — with the only possible exception being Aldi, who seem to hilariously pastiche more expensive products while still achieving good publicity. It’s worth noting, however, that in this instance, Aldi do differentiate themselves as a value retailer.
One area that people sometimes get wrong is judging their place within the market. If your customers are attracted to value for money, your brand may reflect this through simple yet effective visuals. Equally, a high-end offer might consider a consistent application of professional, high-quality design and imagery.
Typical Customer Profiles
Once you’ve refined your positioning, you can test multiple brand journeys by thinking about who you’re aiming to attract. Creating customer profiles is a great way to make sure your brand message aligns with your target audience. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can imagine how they might interact with your brand and get an insight into how they may perceive your brand.
Launching Your New Brand
Having considered all your touchpoints, don’t waste the opportunity for publicity—launch your new brand!
Launching your brand online with a new digital experience, video or even launch event can help people to buy into your new image. You might get some positive press, and your customers have an excuse to touch base with you on the back of a successful launch.
The Importance of a Consistent Brand
Brand guidelines inform how your brand should be used both now and in the future to ensure consistency and present a confident public image.
Strong brand design offers some flexibility in order to be able to move with the times while remaining recognisable as uniquely your business. If someone has to guess or bend the rules to make your brand work, the future probably wasn’t well considered in the first place.
Brand evolution and website design for this UK-based international engineering practice
Pell Frischmann is a top ten, UK-based international engineering practice with over 90 years of experience within the built environment sector. Simpkin Burley was initially asked to review and consolidate the marketing collateral of the firm. The brand evolution was focussed on supplying a suite of marketing templates that improved consistency and clarity of message. This demonstrated the scale of knowledge and experience that is one of the major assets of the businesses.
Following on from the brand evolution, we were also engaged to upgrade the business’s online presence with a new website. The initial work focussed on improving the website navigation and consolidation of the site map. A later phase of this digital project has also introduced better Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), improved user experience and better functionality as the business grows its services and specialisms.
A Growing Online Presence
Simpkin Burley was asked to update the navigation and functionality of Pell Frischmann’s website. Over a period of time this relationship has grown and we are now on-hand as the firm’s online and digital consultant.
A Comprehensive Marketing and PR Tool
The website has grown to include greater coverage of Pell Frischmann’s specialisms and skillsets. The site is now a resource for the business’s HR department as well as providing a contact interface for all its UK offices. The SEO of the website has been improved to drive traffic to the relevant specialist services.
Evolution not Revolution
We reviewed Pell Frischmann’s brand positioning, consolidating and defining their suite of marketing collateral. This ensured their brand was consistent, clear and communicated their messages well. Brand evolution can be a cost-effective method of ensuring a business’s communications are fit for purpose without a full company rebrand.
Consistent Marketing Collateral
Simpkin Burley produced templates that could be easily used by Pell Frischmann’s UK-wide team. Brand assets included new presentations, printed collateral, photography and colour guidelines, as well as a digital newsletter. We packaged the brand in a simple guidelines’ presentation, allowing the whole team to produce a cohesive brand image in all their work.
Brand design and promotional literature for a financial investment product
We designed a new brand design and promotional literature for a financial investment product. Thrive is a financial wealth business, aiming to prove that you can be caring when thinking about money. Simpkin Burley was initially asked to create a brochure explaining the offer. The brief developed and we also designed a new brand identity and associated marketing suite.
We focused on simple, personal messages to make potential customers think about why they might want to save. Instead of using the topic of making money, we used the concepts of real people, personal connections, and relationships. We did this to tell a story about how a secure financial future can transform lives.
Manning Holden Architects
A brand design and naming for a Derbyshire based architectural practice specialising in residential design
We created a brand design and naming for Manning Holden, a Derbyshire architectural practice specialising in residential design. The business specialises in sustainable building practices and is family run. We steered the client to a name that included the founder and lead designers’ names. For a client to be working with a director whose name is ‘above the door of the company’ makes them feel like they are talking to a senior architect and that their project is important. It also suggests collaboration and partnership within the practice.
Manning Holden Architects is growing in recognition and have been commissioned to design many residential buildings in their target Derbyshire area. The practice continues to expand both in the scope of their projects and by employing local talent.
Inspired by Materiality
Simpkin Burley chose to work with the business owners’ natural visual style and created a palette inspired by local architectural materials. We complemented this with simple but classic typography that reflects the business type and its aspirations to be an environmentally considerate designer.
A Brand Application Suite
As well as brand guidelines we produced a pocket-sized brochure to communicate the process of working with an architect. We also created a quality business card and site gear so that our client has a consistent look and feel at every touch point of their customers touch points.
Manchester Airport Group
Creative partner, designing marketing and advertising campaigns for Manchester and Stansted International Airports
Simpkin Burley is a Manchester and Stansted International Airport creative partner to Manchester Airport Group (MAG). As well as ‘in-house’ campaigns we have also supplied creative for international travel brands such as Virgin Holidays and Singapore Airlines.
Working alongside MAG’s marketing team, we have created marketing and advertising campaigns, informational designs, promotion for their services and facilities, including large scale signage and wayfinding.
Manchester Airport T3 Wall
Large Scale Infographic
At Manchester Airport we used the existing Manchester Airport brand in a fresh and bold way to create an information corridor to promote their pre-flight services. We divided a 24 metres terminal wall into individual ‘fly poster’ designs, creating visuals and messaging that spoke to people on the move.
Design Impact on the Move
We combined striking imagery with simple statements that could easily be digested while walking. By taking this design approach, we were able to communicate a lot of information in a concise way.
To raise awareness of the many routes offered by Manchester International Airport, Simpkin Burley designed a versatile flyer. The design concept was influenced by an airport departures board.
Event Marketing Collateral
The flyer was designed to be updated and could be given different colour treatments to tie in with events that the airport attended as a business. The flyer was used at a several off-site events like Manchester Pride and events to promote their routes and services.
Price Guarantee Mark
A Mark of Quality
To promote food and beverage (F&B) tenants within their terminals, Manchester Airport engaged Simpkin Burley to design a price guarantee mark. The mark signified that operators of restaurants and bars were pricing competitively with the high street. The campaign aimed to dispel the myth that airports’ operators heavily mark up their food and beverages.
A Complementary Brand
The mark was designed to sit with Manchester Airports F&B tenants’ brands. This meant considering versatility, shape, size and end-user applications.
With a working relationship dating back years, Simpkin Burley’s mission has always been to contribute to the strength and clarity of the Manchester Airport Group brand. Working with the company’s existing corporate identity, we consider ourselves responsible for the presentation of MAG’s brand in a consistent and creative way. We aim to tell their story and enable them to communicate clearly.
Support for Business
Working behind the scenes we have also worked on business presentations and tender support to ensure that Manchester Airport Group’s business runs smoothly and profitably. We also provide on-hand support for some of their airline and F&B partners.
Kiran’s Spice Kits
Environmentally friendly packaging design for a range of home cooking kits.
Simpkin Burley designed a new identity and packaging design for Kiran’s Spice Kits. We created a new logo targeted at high-end customers. At the same time we positioned Kiran’s as a friendly brand that is easy to recognise on the shelf. The design uses a heart motif as an apostrophe to represent a promise of care for both customer and the environment. We then used the heart as an aperture to showcase the product on the retail packaging.
All materials are sourced from sustainable materials. This includes the ‘plastic’ bag that contains the product, which is made from wood pulp. The packaging is 100% biodegradable and recyclable.
Kiran’s Spice Kits are now stocked in high-end delicatessens. Retail sales have increased since the launch of the new brand and packaging design.
The Alternative Adviser
A bold and distinctive financial services brand design for a wealth planning business.
Simpkin Burley designed a visually strong brand for this financial planning business. We used contemporary type combined with a black and white colour palette to demonstrate our clients clarity of message. The bold style of the brand instils a strong sense of quality and trust. The concept of plain-speaking advice is conveyed by a graphic device inspired by a keyboard shortcut.
The identity was applied to an extensive suite of applications. This included stationery, corporate literature, a website, video marketing, office signage and advertising campaigns as well as a monthly lifestyle magazine.
A Complete Brand Suite
One aspect of brand design that we’re passionate about is ‘message’. By ensuring all business communications are ‘on brand’, a business looks professional, consistent with good attention to detail. We believe consistency leads to brand recognition.
Comprehensive Brand Suite
For this project we created brand guidelines to ensure the identity was applied consistently. For the brand launch, a full set of stationery was created which demonstrated the high-end nature of the business. Business cards, letterheads and postcards were all produced by A14 Print Finishing and used quality, embossed, GF Smith paper.
Simpkin Burley is on call for The Alternative Adviser for adhoc marketing and design campaigns. This can be as simple as occasional advertising for forthcoming events or the production of their monthly lifestyle magazine.
Escape Magazine contains articles that relate to the lifestyles of our client’s customers. Rather than a typical e-newsletter, our client wanted to share something that was special and tailored to their clients. The format of the magazine demonstrates a personal touch and attention to detail the business has designed into every step of their customer journey.
A comprehensive residential branding project close to the waterside in Nottingham
Simpkin Burley created a comprehensive residential branding design for Pelham Waterside, a housing development close to the River Trent in Nottingham. We worked alongside PR & Marketing agency Big Old House, for their client Pelham Homes. The project is designed to appeal to a target market of first-time buyers and families.
We targeted the customer journey of home buyers with an extensive marketing and advertising campaign. Brand applications included a launch event, sales brochures, welcome pack and advertising campaigns. On-site signage included a 75 metre site hoarding, branded flags, welcome totem signs, sold/for sale signs and even a custom made branded welcome mat!
The Design Concept
The Nature of Waterside Living
The waterside area of Nottingham has been transformed in recent years and there are now many new residential developments. Many of these projects have used identities that represent water as a theme. Our concept was to do something different and show the true nature of waterside living. We designed a brand that visualised rich vegetation and a connection to nature. We believe this represents the true nature of a waterside experience.
A Contemporary Colour Palette
We designed a colour palette that featured colours found in contemporary interior design so that the brand appealed to the target audience. The same colour palette was later used by interior designers Claude Hooper in the showhome which contributed further to the strength of the brand.