One of the most common questions I get from prospective clients when we’re discussing brand strategy is “What about the logo?” I don’t include a logo in my brand strategy package, simply because a logo isn’t a strategy—it’s a visual representation, but it’s just one small part of a bigger picture. This phase is all about sketching out, then painting that big picture.
Delivering a brand strategy to a client is hard. There’s no logo to sign off on, no PSD to hand over, no code to upload to a server. It’s ideas. But a client isn’t going to write a check for you saying “This is the idea.”. It’s it’s my job to figure out how to communicate those ideas in a tangible way that I can actually deliver to a client.
Over the years I’ve gone through so many iterations of my brand strategy document that I’ve lost count. I’ve taken a little from this agency job, a little more from that one, and a lot of freelancing trial and error, adding things as they started recurring in projects and dropping what didn’t work.
My first brand strategy document
I created this format on my first big freelance branding project. I built the brand for a digital scrapbooking magazine guided by this document. It’s pretty rudimentary, but it got the job done at the time. For nostalgia’s sake I dug it out of my archives—here’s a little sample.
At that point, my brand strategy document more closely resembled my current design strategy deliverable. There was only one page about the positioning, and the rest was colors, photos styling, fonts and icons. But, it was how the agency I’d last worked at did them, so it’s how I did them. I hadn’t discovered the connection between branding and storytelling yet. I still had a lot to learn.
My current brand strategy document
I recently finished putting together a template for my latest brand strategy document, and man, has it come a long way from that first iteration. I thought it would be cool to explain what I do in the format I give to clients at the end of our project.
My sample brand strategy document is divided into six main sections: brand vision, core values, research, audience personas, brand promise, and culminates in the brand story. It makes the ideas real, and puts them in a format the client can use as a reference. Hopefully it gives you a better understanding of what goes into a brand strategy project, and what comes out of it.