Brand alignment is the practice of mapping out the resources of the company and its external stakeholders to ensure all business activities are linked to the brand. The brand should be able to consistently communicate what it stands for and match up to customer expectations. Areas to be addressed include: Understanding the brand architecture. Do you have one pervasive masterbrand or are you a house of brands? Does one or more brands in your business drive stronger value than others? Do you and your employees understand this? How is the brand value perceived, experienced by customers and partners? Is it through the benefits or though the service or a combination? Do you have ongoing brand training and metrics in place? What about the communications matrix? Are all your communications consistent? Is the messaging appropriate and pervasive across all your activities? Internally, do your employees understand your brand ?Do they live your brand? Externally, is the brand doing all it can to live in its milieu both online and offline. Should your brand be viral? How do customers talk about the brand? Can you help improve the experience?
Alignment is an ongoing thing and part of the brand management function. Positioning your brand requires a combination of strategic and creative thinking. What are your brand values? What values do you want to keep? What values do you need to make more relevant? What values do you want the brand to have? Are they credible? Are they relevant? Can your brand be differentiated from the competition in the market with these values? What positioning can you create in a simple idea that will encapsulate the values? How is that visualised? What verbal and visual messages do you need to create to encapsulate the positioning? How do you create a long and a short positioning? How does that positioning vary for different parts of the business?
Once you are happy with your positioning strategy, the next task is to flesh out the verbal and visual directions in the design phase. This has already started in the positioning phase with creatives, strategists and the digital team working together on this. Brand design involves melding the values and positioning statement to iterate as necessary the logo, wordmark, the strapline, any naming development, testing registration, legal compliance conventions and nomenclature systems needed for the current or new brand. Appropriate colour palette and typeface as well as icons, visual photography form the basis for the creative platform. The various iterations of the design need to be agreed and developed with the digital design team as there are multiple formats and executions online as well as offline.The tools and vehicles where these will appear are then mapped onto the design. These can include brochure business stationery, signage, uniforms, interiors, online website, apps, social media templates.
The positioning and design phases throw out multiple executions of the brand. It is essential that these are documented for future reference as once the brand is in the market, your communication partners and even your staff will be liable to tweak the visual and verbal elements if there is any doubt about its personality. Systems can be online with rules for usage. Creative brand books and videos can be distributed in print or online for partners. Pop up stores and events can hijack the brand if systems are not clear and show consistent rules ands options for size and colour. And brands are living permeable things. The brand needs to be relevant to current and new customers. Competitive activities may require the brand to be tweaked with some brands having different formulae for different markets. All this needs to be taken into account with the system that manages the brand DNA.