Over the decades, consumers have become more informed about the business of marketing and branding. They are now capable of comparative research and can survey their peers for buying recommendations instantly. They have become extremely sophisticated. And they know what they want.
People now select brands, not products and services.
They expect a brand to align with their values and stand for more than just a product or service. They want to feel good about their investment. They want to feel a connection. But most importantly, they know they have choices.
That’s why, no matter how long you have been in business or how well you are doing, it is worth reviewing your brand and refocusing it to ensure you remain relevant. With this in mind, agencies like us have to rethink how we approach our craft. And thus, The Brand Roadmap emerged.
We are embarking on a series of posts detailing our brand process. But before diving into this first step, we preface this by saying that before even beginning the development of a brand, we go through an extensive brand discovery process. We hold various types of workshops and meetings with clients to extract all of the thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and desires from them and use those insights throughout the following steps to bring their brand to life. More on Brand Discovery coming soon.
The first step in our brand process is to develop a Brand Roadmap.
The Brand Roadmap is made up of three seemingly-simple statements that provide direction and serve as reference points for the brand’s purpose and goals, as well as the entirety of the brand process to follow.
These statements very directly and succinctly state what a company stands for and does. They are the Mission, Vision, and Position statements.
This is the most known and widely understood-yet-misunderstood deliverable in our process.
Everyone knows what a Mission statement is, right? Maybe it’s printed and hanging somewhere in a company’s breakroom. Or it might be found on the About page of their website (or not?). Sadly, mission statements are often overly-verbose, technically written, vague and difficult to understand, and nearly impossible to commit to memory.
How about a Vision statement? Most people have heard of these.
Is a Vision statement interchangeable with the Mission? Some think so. Or does it drive the mission statement? Or maybe it answers to it? We see all of these scenarios out there, but most seem to think it is something that should inspire. We can agree on that.
Most companies we come across don’t have a positioning statement, nor a good grasp on its role or importance.
The Position statement has definitely become a more important and known piece of the branding puzzle over the past decade or two but is rarely articulated and implemented. And it might just be the most important one of these three to help a brand succeed.
Now we’ll break each of these down and show you how we’ve applied them to our own brand as a working example.
While it may be very difficult to identify for some companies, we have a very simple way of looking at this one.
A brand’s Mission should answer the question, “Why do we exist other than to make money?”
It’s all about taking revenue and balance sheets off the table. If you had an unlimited supply of money, why would your business keep doing its thing?
After running a brand discovery workshop on ourselves, we decided that our mission is about the people we serve – our employees. Did you expect the people we serve to be our clients? We’ve flipped that thinking. We find that if we serve our team first, our team naturally wants to serve our customers. So there is bleed-over in our Mission and its directives from our staff members to our clientele.
Our Mission is to:
Develop leaders. Foster creativity. See around corners. Pass torches.
It’s short. Intriguing. Easy to commit to memory. And easy to understand.
Now that we know what we mean by Mission – why a company exists – we look to the future. Vision is our roadmap for the future.
A brand’s Vision should explain how its Mission will be achieved.
If your mission is properly crafted, it will be within reach, but never-ending. It is a journey, not a destination. And if your company has already achieved its mission, then your mission was too small.
So, if Traction’s mission is seeking to develop leaders, foster creativity, see around corners, and pass torches… how can we go about living that?
We break the mold in how we operate. This ensures the smartest and most humble creatives desire to work here, and the right-fit clients seek to hire us.
For us, it’s all about attracting the right people to go on the mission with us. These people don’t subscribe to the thought that, to be successful, they need to fit in or step in line. We want mold breakers. People with enough curiosity and gumption to find new ways. And people who do that for the results it creates, not the attention it gets.
This one’s a doozy, but it’s critical to get it right. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp. It’s just a difficult one to commit to.
A Position defines a brand’s unique and strategic place in a market or its industry.
It is a declaration of what sets the brand apart from the competition. Branding is always about standing out, not blending in.
While your Position is expressly articulating what your company does and for whom, it is also stating what you do not do and for whom you do not do it.
When properly constructed, your positioning provides focus. A clear line of thinking about the customer you serve, what they need, and how you uniquely fulfill their needs. Ideally, in a way that reduces the number of competitors that could potentially also be a good fit.
Tight positioning is all about filling a niché. And this scares the hell out of most businesses that aren’t well-positioned. They want to do everything they can for anyone they can. But the goal is to be very narrowly focused. Not because narrow is the goal. But because the path to deeper connections with the perfect customers is inherently narrow.
We move time-tested brands across generational chasms, in both company leadership and target markets. The intersection of both is where we do our best work.
Who are we focused on? Brands that have been around the block. We call them time-tested. They often are already 2nd generation companies. But they don’t have to be. If we can find battle scars they’ve survived, we get excited.
What do we do for them? We help them bridge the gaps between generations. Whether that’s a transition to a 2nd or 3rd generation of company leadership or a big shift in the generation of customers they need to acquire. We are their change agents.
And that’s the Brand Roadmap – our first big step in developing a brand. These are your simplest and truest of statements. Three statements that embody exactly what your brand is and does.
We help a company figure out and cement why it exists, we make sure they know how they can work collectively toward their future desired state of existence. Then we focus on what makes them special at what they do and for whom they should strive to resonate.
The next post in this series will address the second step in our brand development process – Brand Values. These are the attributes and characteristics which serve as the foundation from which all other elements of the brand will take shape.
Interested in talking with us about how we can help your company re-envision its brand? We’re always eager to talk with new people about just that. Let’s chat about possibilities.