Many people only start thinking holistically about branding for their business when they have a website (re)designed. It’s often the catalyst for a full rebrand, including new logo, new promotional materials etc.
That’s because website development has tangible outputs and can involve looking at the logos or websites of competitors or other companies to get ideas, or even experimenting with various platforms, looks, typefaces, colours and more. The trouble is, people don’t realise what they really want is a full rebrand until development on their website is underway.
The thinking behind a company’s branding needs to happen BEFORE taking any action. Companies need to first clarify their vision, values, brand personality and target audience. These four key elements are so much more important at this stage than what your logo will look like.
Where branding is concerned, there’s so much to be done it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that taking action –doing stuff– is the priority, as opposed to thinking strategically about it.
Understandably, people are also often unsure about what to focus on first. The following list - written in no particular order and by no means exhaustive - looks overwhelming, doesn’t it? Where to begin?
- Website purpose
- Content structure
- Design style
- Hosting and domains
- Website features
- Logo design
- Company name
- Online marketing
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Social media strategy
- Business cards
- Flyers and offline marketing
- Brand guidelines
- Editorial calendar
- On going maintenance –technical
- Monthly reporting - analytics
- Keeping everything updated
The Clarity Map
Fear not, as we have the Clarity Map to guide you through this maze. Take a look at the map, then read on as I explain it.
There are seven areas:
- Clarity Assessment
- Clarity for Business
- Brand Identity
- Clarity for Websites
- Website Design
Let's take each in turn to see how the Clarity Map can help you have a more effective brand and in turn a more successful business. It’s about helping you to commission a logo or website from a position of strength not confusion. My personal passion is that you have a strong foundation on which to grow your business, which has the potential to save you money and frustration in the future.
Having clarity within your business is very much about long-term vision not quick, short-term fixes.
1. Clarity Assessment - Where are you now?
This is the foundation. It’s where you take the first steps to analyse where you are on the map, to know which steps you need to take next.
Our Clarity Assessment sessions are usually carried out via Skype or GoToMeeting and last 45 minutes. We will ask you the right questions to assess where you are and what you need. Every business will be at a slightly different stage and this is where we evaluate your specific situation, to plot the path to clarity.
We also explain the four key areas of the Clarity Programme; vision, values, brand personality and target audience, and point you in the right direction to further research this yourself. But if, like most people, you prefer to work through this with us, then the next logical step is either a Clarity for Business or Clarity for Website workshop.
2. Clarity for Business - If you need to update your whole business branding
This 1/2 day workshop for up to 10 people, usually run on your own premises, takes you through the full Clarity Programme.
We run exercises that explain in-depth the four key areas of the Clarity Programme and help you define your business identity. This can be quite an eye opener as you start to understand how your business relates to your customers and staff, and is (or could be) perceived by the wider world.
3. Brand Identity - How your brand will be applied throughout your business
This is the stage where your logo can be commissioned. Once that’s produced we can start to draw up your brand guidelines. This is a document that states how your logo will be used –and how it shouldn’t be used; what your ‘corporate’ typeface will be; your style of imagery to be used for charts and diagrams; photography style; graphics for social media profiles and avatars.
Imagine having all this information in one document that you can always refer to, as your company grows and you need to communicate this with more people –whether external agencies such as printers, or your own staff.
4. Clarity for Websites - If you are already happy with your branding but need clear website direction
This 1/2 day workshop for up to 10 people, usually run on your own premises, takes you through some elements of the Clarity Programme that you haven’t already got clarity on, which will have been pointed out in your Clarity Assessment.
The main focus is then about discovering the vision for and purpose of your website; how it meets your user needs and business objectives.
If you go straight to this stage from your Clarity Assessment, a key area you probably won’t have covered –and if you have it’s worth covering again– is just who you expect to be using your website. This can really help to change your thinking about how your website is developed, taking it from a site that works for you to one that works for your customers.
A key output is a robust Request for Proposal document, cataloguing all the elements of your business and website vision. This means you have one document you can send to any web designer or agency for them to give you an estimate. As we have been designing websites for over 17 years, we know the information any designer requires to provide an accurate estimate. The Request for Proposal document can prevent you from receiving estimates that vary tremendously in cost due to a vague brief.
5. Website Design - Applying your vision to your website
Applying your brand identity, business and user goals and what you’ve discovered in the previous stages, we (or your chosen agency) will work with you to design and build your site.
This is often run in parallel with the next section.
6. Marketing - If you build it, they won’t automatically come
All of the above is next to useless if you don’t continue to invest in your brand. You need to make sure you are doing the right things to consistently drive traffic to your site.
This stage makes sure you have a strategy in place to do just that; continue (or start) producing great content. We help you develop editorial calendars and marketing plans so you know what you have to do to keep customers coming back. Your mailing list will be key here, having a strategy to drive up subscribers who you can then regularly send content of value.
We can also discuss Search Engine Optimisation and Facebook and Google AdWords campaigns, alongside developing a social media strategy using some of the tools we’ve been using successfully for years.
7. Accountability - who are you accountable to?
How do you keep things going? Many businesses don’t have anything in place to regularly monitor their own progress.
It’s easy to be inspired and motivated once you come out of our workshops, or when your brand, logo and website is first developed, but then daily life kicks in, you end up firefighting and slowly you invest less and less time in the continual development of your brand.
This is why an accountability check-up can work wonders. We offer regular Clarity checkups or, if you are a creative business, our minihubs - where you meet with other like-minded businesses to share tips and encourage each other - could be the right fit.
For those working in a larger company, accountability may take the form of reporting to your board or a leadership team. If not, another option is to get an external business coach. Whatever you choose, having accountability is vital to continue the great work you will have started.
Take action to get Clarity
Our Clarity Map can help you navigate your way through what can be a tricky maze to achieving a clear brand; one that communicates your vision to the right target audience that helps them solve a key problem they have.
Take our Clarity Assessment today to see where you are on the path to brand clarity.