B2B branding is a delicate process. Follow these steps to give your branding agency the best chance to wow you.
We've carried out many B2B branding, re-branding and brand extension projects for clients. And we've been very successful at it, creating brands that have captivated clients and emboldened their businesses. We put our success down not only to the exceptional talent of our head of design, but also to our unique briefing processes.
We've revised and refined our brand briefing process over time to the point where it:
Is written in language that you understand - not marketing speak
Contains all the information necessary to secure your buy-in
Contains only the information the designer needs to knock it out of the park
If you enter your branding process with some or all of the information that we put in our branding brief already prepared, you will not only be a better customer to your agency, you will get even greater satisfaction and reward out of it.
In this section we simply collect pertinent facts that don’t fit anywhere else. Things like a brief history of the business, the current business objectives and marketing strategies or anything else that is relevant.
Why is the brand needed? To influence a perception? To appeal to a new segment? To reflect past achievements and prepare for future growth? Is the business new or is it being re-branded?
Whatever the reason, if client and agency can not identify and agree on the primary purpose of the brand, you are unlikely to be satisfied by it. Whereas, if both understand that the re branding has an objective to achieve, it is more likely you will.
Primary lines of business
What do you do?
Maybe you have just one primary line of business. In many cases businesses have several and it can be difficult to determine which are the most important. This is no problem but achieving transparency on this point can help avoid confusion later on.
Where do you aim to perform these lines of business?
Naturally, your new brand has to appeal to professionals in the markets you target. Again, most businesses have more than one target market meaning the agency has to produce a brand that appeals equally in all of them - this can be quite a challenge and is one reason why good branding professionals earn their money.
Positioning and attributes
What position do you want to hold in mind of your customers? And what values and attributes of your business support this?
Internally, your agency might be using terms like value proposition and competitive advantage. Both are concepts we wholeheartedly believe in but, more often than not, they are not in the customer's vocabulary. It's our job to simplify the process and make sure that everyone understands it so we don’t use those terms when they are inappropriate.
Big idea / Central theme
What's the big claim you want to make?
We normally come up with this for our clients and you might want to leave your agency to do it for you. However, if you have an idea of the big idea that can be at the heart of your brand, put it forward. Internally, your agency may call this point 'brand essence' but again, chances are you don’t talk like that.
Requirements / Deliverables
What outputs are required from the process?
While there are a wide range of standard outputs from a branding process (Logo files, business stationery designs, website favicons etc.) its worth listing them out here to avoid disappointment. More importantly, you and your agency need to identify any unusual outputs that are essential to you. Maybe you have an iPhone app that needs a button, software that requires branding elements, building signage or something else. Think hard and specify it now as these applications may also affect the design.
Our belief is that it is always the responsibility of your branding agency to ensure a successful branding process by obtaining all the relevant information from you, and we take this responsibility particularly seriously.
However, by taking the time to prepare the information suggested here, you can accelerate the process and give yourself a chance to feel more involved and/or in control than you might do otherwise. Try it and let us know how you get on.