Whether creating a new brand or refreshing an old brand the ultimate success does not begin with research, interviews or focus groups. The foundation isn’t built in a brainstorming session or when pencil hits paper.
The magic to building a healthy brand starts with the health of the relationship between the client and the branding firm.
It doesn’t matter if the widget is the most amazing widget ever, or if the widget company is lead by passionate visionaries, or if the branding firm has 100 years of experience and the best account service and creative talent in all the land. A branding initiative is doomed to failure if the relationship between the client and the firm is not as healthy as it could be.
What are the tenets of a healthy client/agency relationship?
Simply put, you have to believe that we can help you and we have to believe in you. You have to believe that it is critical to effectively portray who you are, your internal culture – your way – in order to differentiate. You have to believe that positioning is critical to branding and that we have the ability to propel your brand forward. We have to believe that you are dedicated to building your brand. All of the other tenets listed below are tied to these beliefs.
There has to be honest, open communication throughout the entire process, from assessment to delivery. There can be no hidden agendas, no secrets, no surprises from either side. The objectives need to be communicated clearly and made sure they are understood by both parties. The brand build process is often fluid and directional changes are common throughout. We must talk constantly, and more importantly we must…
While we spend a lot of time in the assessment phase, our knowledge of your product, service, culture, goals, etc. is ultimately tied to what you tell us, how you feel and, more importantly, how your customers and prospects feel about them. We need to listen to and really hear you and your audience in order to have the best understanding possible in order to create the brand of your dreams.
It is natural for you to have your own ideas about how your brand should feel. We embrace client direction and will always guide brand development with those aspirations in mind. However, we will typically present alternative solutions as well. The most effective work comes from a deep level of collaboration. Willingness to listen, understand and consider every direction is important to healthy client/agency relationship (which is true about any relationship).
Clearly understood objectives, budget and timelines makes for a smooth brand build. Changes in any one of the three can effect all three. Objectives and budget must be defined in the beginning. Timelines must be realistic and crisply adhered to.
5. Sleep on it
A brand isn’t built overnight. It takes time and we all need to stop now and then during the process to review, reflect, validate and fortify the course if necessary. Reflection needs to be built into the timeline.
6. Convert ego into passion
Whether you are a client or a member of the agency team, we all take great pride in what we do. We all have to understand that with pride comes ego, but we can’t let pride and ego overtake shared passion. Shared passion comes from mutual trust and belief and is the fuel that drives a successful brand build.
Open communication, clear planning, building in time for reflection, fueling the passion and, ultimately, a mutual belief in each other will always build a healthier brand.