Identity and Visualize: Visualize the Future
STRATEGY IS ALWAYS NEEDED
This article continues examining, in depth, the parts of the branding process that I introduced in my e-book, 17 Mistakes that Can Harm Your Brand. In the book, I outline five phases of the branding process:
By now you should have the first two phases of the branding process (Research and Discovery and Clarifying and Articulation) completed. With stakeholder consensus and your brand brief in hand, you’re ready to move to the third phase: Identity and Visualize. Later in this phase you will begin to actually create and craft the visual aesthetic for your brand’s identity. Before you run out and throw a logo together, though, remember that you need to visualize your brand. To visualize your brand, you’re looking to the future; you’re looking to see if you can answer the question “Where are we going?” In other words,what will your brand need to do in order to be successful?
Look to the Past to See the Future
During your previous research you identified your competitors and their positions within the market that you are entering. Did you realize, possibly, the biggest differentiator between them and you? This key differentiator, just like every other differentiator that you have come across, is an opportunity to position yourself in the minds of your customers. So, what is this differentiator? Simple—they are already in the market.
While working on your vision keep your competitors in mind; they are the past. They are an important stepping stone to achieving the future vision you plan for your brand. With your competitors already in the market, that means that they have market share. Everything they have put out and exposed your future customers to has conditioned the market as to what to expect. During this stage of the branding process you need to visualize the future, not only for your brand but for the market as well. By not allowing your brand to be confined to what has happened before, you allow your brand to move beyond everything your market has seen.
Imagine the Perfect Future
Any successful brand needs to have a clear vision for the future so they know the answer to the “where are we going” question. Where do you start, though? Remember your goal is to establish the vision or direction you see your brand going. Since you’re looking to the future, don’t focus on where you are today. After you’ve established where your brand needs to go you can begin to make plans to move from where you are today to where you want to be. When you are setting out to visualize the future for your brand, imagine a future date—how far in the future is up to you, but think at least five or ten years from now. You have that timeframe in mind focus on what you envision your answers to be. Then ask yourself some questions:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- How are you dealing with that customer’s issues?
- What does your brand offer that absolutely no other brand offers?
- What is it that customers identify your brand with the most?
- What do your customers say about you?
- What is your brand’s future market share?
- What motivates your brand and employees?
- What is the size of your company?
- What is your role day today (if you’re an entrepreneur)?
Many of these questions you may have already asked during earlier stages of the branding process. The important thing to keep in mind is that these questions need to be answered in a future sense. It’s not about who your brand is today; it’s about who your brand will be in five or ten years—you are, in essence, answering the questions at the future date you identified. Be realistic with your answers. With the “what is your future market share?” question it’s easy to say 100%, but this is definitely unrealistic. Focus smaller. In Moving from Why to How, we talked about how Apple launched the iPhone. Their plan wasn’t 100% ownership of the mobile phone industry. They had a smaller, more realistic goal that they could focus on.
With your brand vision established you will discover you have the beginnings of a roadmap for where your brand will go and the route you will take to get there. Once you’ve gone through the questions, continue to refine and tighten up your answers, keeping in mind that this is not a strategic planning exercise. You’re establishing how your brand will look in the future, and by knowing what your brand could look like tomorrow you’ll make your brand better today.
Ideas To Make Your Brand Better Now:
- Create and answer a series of vision-establishing questions.
- Refine your answers to gain a clear understanding of what your brand is capable of.
- Share your most insightful question with us below.