When it comes to brand building, it's easy to get ahead of ourselves and look straight to the must have creative essentials like logos and colour palettes, but before we can run, we must walk… ready? Let’s take our first steps together by starting at the foundation - what is a brand proposition?
- The evolution of digital marketing has irrevocably altered the branding landscape, inspiring thousands of channels, a saturation of voices and aggressive competition.
- Brand is the cornerstone of all marketing, uniting businesses before they leap onto the printed and online page, cultivating a clear vision and directive.
The branding beast has evolved since the push, push, push days of the Mad Men era. No longer may we sip whiskey after a late morning meeting (damn) or discriminate against applicants based on their sex, race, orientation, ethnicity or postcode (good). Marketing has made a splash online, creating more channels, more voices and more touch-points, necessitating perfection from the first click to the last – marketers are no longer in complete control.
The advent of the internet changed everything. What started as a clunky site or two on the other end of a dial-up connection has grown exponentially, reaching new devices and modes of connection – brands no longer have permission to have an off-day, as social media and real-time feedback platforms demand the conscious treatment of the consumer. Some would argue branding has taken a backseat to marketing, but really, breaking branding and marketing down into stalwart definitions reveals one still cannot survive without the other.
Brand is ever at the centre of it all – online and off – pulling the business together and sitting it down at the table, nutting out a starting point in order to deliver clear, unique, relevant and authentic messaging that everybody wants to get behind… including the user, consumer and reader.
The Anatomy of a Brand Proposition Framework
- A brand proposition framework explores the sum total of elements that define your business.
- It explores the market landscape, identifies the brands promise and defines a unique position within the market.
- The brand proposition influences and directs the language and tone of a business.
Some call it a brand blueprint, others take a metaphorical walk to the garden shed and strap on a toolkit… we call it a framework. A brand proposition framework is the foundation businesses use to develop the finer points of their overarching vision, identifying an underlying system that reinforces external and internal expressions of brand going forward.
Measured in word count alone, a brand proposition can seem diminutive, a mere technicality on the road to the big picture… it would be foolish to doubt or dismiss its power in formulating your unique offer and overall strategy, serving as a direct influence over the business language your brand utilises to communicate. Without one, your brand is comparatively voiceless – no brand wants to be without a rally cry in a media savvy, highly saturated world.
In short, our framework creates internal alignment and consistent external expression across every user-facing touch-point, influencing the experience that stakeholders or customers have. People will potentially forget what you say but they are far less likely to forget how you made them feel.
The Big Picture: Why is a Brand Proposition Framework Important?
- Consumers remember and talk about negative, disjointed experiences. Brands must be engaged and ready to go 24/7/365.
Where does your brand proposition fit in the scheme of things?
If no definitive answer springs to mind, your offering may be facing a fate of uncertainty – remember, products and services are led by the bright spark emanating from a brand proposition. Imagine your marketing, advertising, optimisation and content staff as separate parts of the same beacon… if one cog falters, expect any measure of success to die on the rocks. Brands must be on-point 24/7, no ifs, no buts.
Getting Down to Details: Example Elements of a Brand Proposition
- Why: Why does your brand exist – what is its ultimate purpose?
- What: What’s in it for your audience and target groups? What value do you add to their lives?
- Who: A simple articulation of your brand identity, broken down to its simplest expression.
- How: Your brand personality, accounting for the tone, inference and behaviours of your communications.
Every brand is dominated by four elements covering the why, what, who and how… think of these classic journalistic questions as the protons, neutrons and electrons of the branding sphere. Without them, ideas would not thrive and creativity – as we know it- would perish in favour of sanitised marketing climate, free from innovation.
Why does your brand exist? Really, when you strip back the double-talk and internal politics? Does it function for its own gain, on its own merits, to benefit only those sitting in plush chairs behind heavy, work-laden desks? Does it have a calling, a motivational edge, a purpose… what is its reason for being, beyond revenue and capital?
What’s in it for your audience? Attribute driven, the what is dependent on the services of your brand, ranging from state of the art facilities for a competitive gym chain; world-class employees for a customer focused retail player; or a higher directive, such as caring for the environment to build a safer, healthier world.
The brand idea rarely winds up appearing in any communications – internal or external – deconstructing your brand into its simplest expression. Some well meaning branding professionals confuse the brand idea with a slogan or tagline, when it is neither; of course, it may inform your slogans, develop your taglines or inspire a compelling brand story, but it should never be complicated by marketing motivations. Think of it as an internalised descriptor.
If the who is a brand idea, the how is a personality profile, cataloguing how your brand acts, reacts and behaves. Online and off, it is important to determine the voice of your new idea, transforming its uncertain impact into a force to be reckoned with through consistent behaviours (eg. social media planning), adjusted tone (eg. content execution across the board) and inference (eg. safe and unsafe words, ideas, phrases and meanings).
Branding is dominated by a simple, immovable driver… value. Translatable value, perceived value, real value, and internal value… it’s a lot to take in. Very often, when you’re too close to an idea, you can’t see the orchard of opportunities before your eyes for the fruit scattered at your feet. Let us help you plant the seeds of success with a robust brand proposition and enjoy the taste of lasting relevance.
Whether you are looking to lay the blueprint for your brand, build it, or give it a makeover, we can help. Check out our branding strategy services, or if you’re looking for more help, get in touch with us today!