Branding

4 things you have to know about your brand

Whenever I talk about the foundations of a brand and how to articulate your brand identity, I think back to Sunday school. I like to think that I was a good Sunday school student. I was the only one of my sisters not to make a fuss about wearing a dress and I knew that ‘Jesus’ was the correct answer to 80% of the questions. The story about the person who built their house upon the rock (with the accompanying song, of course) always stuck with me. In full transparency, I really liked the idea of a house on the sand. House on sand = beach house = the dream. But I digress.

But let’s focus on the themes! Solidity. Foundation. Strength. Clarity. All of those good things. I love the visual of a ‘brand house’. Upon my first meeting with a new client, I inevitably start to doodle (I’m still a die-hard pen-and-paper-person when brainstorming) the beginnings of their brand house. I’m no artist. It’s literally a stick drawing of a roof, some pillars, and two rectangles at the bottom. But, it does the job, illustrating the key aspects of a brand identity and showing the interaction between them all.

A good brand house includes:

Your brand purpose.

Your vision.

Your mission.

Your values.

And they’re all answering different questions. I often see a vision and mission statements that are essentially paraphrasing each other. You could easily take one without losing anything from the other. So, I’m always coming back to these core tenets:

Your brand purpose answers why you exist.

Your vision answers what you’re hoping to achieve.

Your mission answers how you’re going to do it.

Brand house - the building blocks of your brand identity

Brand purpose

I love a brand purpose. When it all feels like things are going up in flames and nothing is actually working and it takes more time, money and complication than you could ever have anticipated, you come back to the brand purpose. Why it all even matters. Why you bother. Many will say ‘find you why’, and while it has gotten to be a bit of a clich√©, it’s true. It’s the ultimate point of connection with your customers – if you can align on the ‘why’, it’s not a hard sale – it’s a natural next step and partnership. Your brand purpose is what it all comes down to.

Vision

The vision is all about the perfect picture. What are you working towards? What is the end result? If all went accordingly to plan, if everything you’re working towards was a success, what would it look like? Paint the perfect world. This is the happy place for dreamers and idealists.

Mission

A mission implies action. What are you doing to achieve your vision? It should still be motivational, but have clear outcomes. Connect with words like ‘through’, ‘with’, ‘by’. Its focus is on the here and now and is the most tangible and practical of the bunch. It gets most specific in who you’re serving and how you’re serving them. The mission is like that person in the meeting that asks, ‘So, what?’ and ties it all up with actions and accountabilities.

Values

Moving back up the visual of our brand house, we find our pillars – our values. This is where you get to show and prove your integrity. Values break down our belief system and what you live out on a day-to-day basis – what you exemplify, celebrate and prioritise through your actions. A ‘value’ is nothing without your proof points. When a customer is kicking the tires, lifting the lid even just a little, (or any other car analogy of your preference!), you need to be able to back up what you’re saying. Your proof points show exactly how you’re living by your stated values. Ensure that they’re as tangible as possible, naturally linked to what you do. It’s about action and proof, not lip service. What are some of your values? Sustainability? Transparency? Great, what does that mean?

An example: Warby Parker

I always love keeping an eye on what Warby Parker is doing. Any time there’s an opportunity to cut out massive overhead and give the customer what they need, at the price they need it, I’m a fan. Here’s an example of what the Warby Parker brand house would look like:

Brand house - Warby Parker

And now, over to you. Here’s a PowerPoint file of the brand house to get started on articulating your own brand identity. If you’re looking for help in your brand strategy, just get in touch! You can always send me an email or book a call to see how we can give some clarity and direction to your brand.

Sources: NPR: How I built this; Warby Parker: Our Story; Warby Parker: 2020 Impact Report

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Hi, I'm Emily!  My entire career goal has been to build brands that I'm proud of.  Which means they're industry-leading.

 I'm passionate about building incredible and long-lasting brands, and know what that takes for startups.  I would love to learn more about your company and discuss the possibilities! 

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