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Mastering the Art of Branding Consultation

Mastering the Art of Branding Consultation

So, let’s start with the basics. Branding consultation is about helping businesses develop a solid and unforgettable corporate identity. It does not only involve slapping a logo on everything and calling it a day (although that certainly plays a part).

Nope, branding does way more than that. It is all about establishing who you are as an organisation; what do you stand for? What are your unique selling points, etc.… And then represent this visually through design so that it appeals to the right people, i.e., those likely to buy from or work with you – which is vital if we’re honest!

Here’s another way of thinking: If your company were an individual attending a networking event, how would they dress? What kind of stories would they tell about themselves? How should others feel after having met them? 

These questions are answered by branding correctly; then, people cannot wait to exchange contact details with such companies. But when one gets their brand strategy wrong, they become like that weird person who keeps going into bathrooms desperately handing out leaflets.

The Power of a Strong Brand

Create Mascot Brand Identity

Still not convinced that brand consultation is worth the investment? Take Apple, Nike and Red Bull as examples; these are some of the most successful brands in history. They’re branding wizards – their logos and taglines alone can make millions of people worldwide feel emotional about them while fostering loyalty. A strong brand doesn’t just help you attract customers; it also does the following:

  1. Enhances credibility and trust – People are likelier to purchase from a professional-looking brand than if they saw something that looked amateurish or scattered.
  2. Increases recognition – An easily identifiable logo will make your company stand out from competitors.
  3. Drives referrals – Satisfied customers become brand evangelists and do word-of-mouth marketing for you.
  4. Raises perceived value – When you’re seen as an authority figure within your niche or industry space, clients will gladly pay a premium price for what only you can offer them.
  5. Motivates employees – Staff members who work under brands they’re proud to represent typically show higher engagement at work.

To summarise, branding is like the secret ingredient in business success soup! It’s what separates companies who play major league ball from those who barely keep score at T-ball tournaments. So get ready because we’re going deep into this thing!

Phases of the Branding Process

Creating a great brand takes time. It is a delicate, multi-step process that requires the expertise of a skilled branding consultant. Here is an overview:

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Discovery

The first step is about the branding consultant getting to know you. Not just your company or goals, but also your competition, target market–everything! Consider it like going through a strip search across an entire organisation (but less awkward). The more insights they gain upfront, the stronger their brand strategy will be.

Brand Strategy

Once my team has conducted in-depth research on who you are as a business entity, we need to map out how this translates into being perceived by others – our brand strategy encompasses four main areas:

  • Brand positioning – How do we want customers/clients/prospects, etc., to perceive us compared to other players in our industry?
  • Brand purpose – What’s our ‘why’ that most importantly resonates emotionally with people?
  • Brand personality – If our brand were personified, which traits would best describe its character?
  • Brand voice -Which language and tone should be unique only to our communication?

Let the creativity flow once my team has established these foundations for any project brief!

Brand Identity

Now, things start getting exciting because we need some visuals! So, during phase three of creating a successful brandscape, there are certain aspects which must never miss out, including:

  1. Logo design,
  2. Color palette,
  3. Typography,
  4. Imagery/photography style,
  5. Marketing materials,
  6. Website/digital presence.

The aim here? Creating an integrated look and feel that sticks in memory while aligning with what has already been discussed regarding positioning, etcetera!

Brand Guidelines

After this step has been accomplished so far, what next? Well, once all those shiny new identity elements have finally come together, you will receive one complete document containing guidelines such as:

  • How should my logo be adequately used alongside colours & font typefaces?
  • What are some excellent examples where brands have shown fantastic consistency across different touch-points over time?
  • Can I get templates or other tools to maintain standards that are easily accessible within my organisation? Etc.

Consider it like having a training manual to ensure perfect representation on every occasion.

Brand Launch

This is the last part but not least because after everything else, now comes taking my brand live! Nevertheless, remember that we still need to accomplish specific tasks during such a period to ensure the launch succeeds. Indeed, these include:

  • We are educating staff internally so everyone gets excited about what we’re doing today!
  • Announcing a new look through strategic marketing/PR efforts, which will captivate attention from targeted audience groups, thus creating awareness towards our rebranding exercise;
  • Monitoring how people perceive this change and making necessary adjustments where deemed fit based on feedback received – in short, always stay flexible even after going public with your business’ fresh appearance!

That’s all there was about branding done right – I hope it has been beneficial thus far! Now, let us move forward by looking at the qualities possessed by top-notch branding consultants.

Qualities of an Exceptional Branding Consultant

What Does A Marketing Consultant Do

Just any branding consultant won't do. They're dealing with your brand identity here, remember? So, someone with the skills, the process, and most of all, the talent must knock this one out of the park.

Here are some things to look for:

Strategic Thinking Ninja

The best branding consultants don’t just throw stuff at a wall and hope something sticks. They lay out a proactive strategy that is made specifically with your business goals in mind. They will ask you tough questions, make recommendations based on research, and develop creative solutions to any branding problem that may arise.

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Industry Expertise

You need somebody who knows what they’re doing and has a creative side, too! While it’s great if they can think outside the box – hire them on the spot! However, ensure that person understands how things work in your industry so their context matches their creativity. This way, they can create brands that resonate with your target customers and set you apart from competitors within a space that could be crowded already.

Mad Listening Skills

A good listener is great; an exceptional listener is even better. The more time the consultant takes to understand your company’s story, culture and what makes you unique among others in similar situations as yours or theirs – as leaders should strive towards being truly “other-centred” – the closer they come to capturing its essence within their mind.

Collaborative Spirit

Good branders know when to check their ego at the door — It’s about getting feedback from everybody involved! Look for top-notch pros who value input from others during each stage (discovery, design) because nobody else knows my business like me, right? And make sure it feels like we’re working together rather than being dictated by them alone since I am part owner, too!

Eye for Design

Branding is both art & science.. so look for somebody with a sense of aesthetics. Someone whose portfolio comprises beautiful, clean, modern design work and striking brand identities that grab attention!

Real-World Experience

Knowledge from books is excellent, but street-smart branding consultants have worked with different clients/industries. A person who has been there will know what works in practice rather than theory alone, thus enabling such an expert to create brands that resonate based on real-life situations encountered elsewhere.

Passionate Brand Evangelist

At the end of it all, I want someone who loves doing this stuff more than anything else – The type of individual described here should always eat, sleep, breathe, drink, talk & dream about nothing else but brands! They should continuously sharpen their skills, keep up-to-date with current trends, etc., because when they finally present me with my completed project(s), their enthusiasm should leap off the page(s) and infect my soul, too!

How to Find the Right Branding Consultant

Alright, you’re convinced about the importance of investing in branding and how a rockstar consultant can up your game. But how in the world do you find ‘the one’? Here are some wise tips:

Ask for referrals

Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to find quality consultants. Ask business buddies, LinkedIn connections or your local entrepreneurial community if they have any branding consultants they’d wholeheartedly recommend.

Seeing real work examples and hearing firsthand accounts of what it was like working with them and the results they got will help separate the duds from the studs.

Review sites

Sites like Clutch, DesignRush, and The Manifest gather user reviews and ratings for creative consultants, branding agencies, etc.

Reading through multiple reviews can give you a sense of their process, communication style, and final product quality — the whole experience, from start to finish.

Portfolio samples

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A legit consultant’s portfolio should speak for itself by showcasing a broad range of creative, practical and aligned branding work. When looking through their sample case studies, ask yourself:

  • Do these brand identities look unique and memorable?
  • Can I sense any underlying brand strategy at play here?
  • Do these projects show versatility across industries/business types?

Consultations

Once you’ve narrowed it down to 2-3 strong contenders, schedule longer consultations with each one. This is your chance to vet them sincerely on things like:

  • Their process for developing brands
  • Examples of measurable results they’ve driven
  • How they approach research + strategy
  • What makes their approach unique or more effective than others out there?

Example timelines + costs for similar projects Pay attention not only to what they say but how they communicate; do you jive with their personality and outlook? You’ll be working closely together, so meshing well is critical!

Behind-the-Scenes of a Branding Project

What Does A Web Designer Do

So you've found your branding soul mate and are eager for the magic to begin. But what can you expect once the project kicks off? Here's a sneak peek at what typically goes on behind the curtain:

Discovery Dives Deep

Remember how we mentioned the discovery phase earlier? Prepare for your branding consultant to go full private investigator mode, learning every nook and cranny about your company. This will likely involve:

  • Stakeholder interviews to understand different perspectives
  • Comprehensive surveys and questionnaires
  • Analysing your current branding materials
  • Researching your industry, target market, and competitors
  • Maybe even sitting in on sales calls or customer interactions

It might sometimes feel like an intense interrogation, but I assure you – it's all for the greater good of crafting an insightful, tailored brand strategy. Speaking of which…

Defining the Brand Platform

With all those discovery findings in hand, your consultant will start mapping out the foundational elements of your brand platform. This typically involves collaborative workshop sessions to nail down things like:

  • Your brand's purpose, vision, mission, and values
  • Your unique value proposition and positioning
  • Your brand personality and brand archetype
  • Your brand voice, tone, and messaging guidelines

The goal is to create a guide to which all future brand expression and customer experience relate. It's the blueprint that brings cohesive meaning to your brand.

Translating the Strategy Into Visuals

The fun begins with that strategic framework outlined – designing all those visual brand assets! This is where your consultant's creative juices will flow as they concept and refine branding elements such as:

  • Your logo suite (primary, secondary, icons, etc.)
  • Your colour palette that evokes particular moods/personalities
  • A set of brand fonts that reinforce your tone
  • Graphic design styles, photography approaches, and image libraries
  • Examples of how the branding works across different channels

Expect multiple concept routes to explore and plenty of feedback rounds until you're 100% in love with the final look.

Anchoring It All Together

Don't think the work stops once you've nailed that brilliant brand identity! To ensure consistency and continuity for years to come, you'll receive:

  • Comprehensive brand guidelines that cover all visual and voice rules
  • Web and print templates for marketing materials
  • Asset libraries with logos, colours, fonts, etc.
  • Training materials to educate your team
  • Potential brand launch strategies and rollout plans

Consider it the owner's manual for your shiny new brand. Follow it to a T, and you'll be the envy of all brand admirers.

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Ongoing Brand Management

For most companies, their brand is never truly “finished.” It's a living, breathing entity that requires nurturing and optimisation to stay relevant. That's why many consultants offer brand management retainers.

From conducting annual brand audits to exploring refresh opportunities, training new hires, and stewarding new branded projects, they'll be your resident brand experts. Think of them as the lifeguards patrolling to ensure your hard-earned brand equity stays strong over time.

Why the Branding Investment is Worth It

We have discussed the branding process, but is this really necessary? Can’t I just make a quick logo in Canva and call it good?

While DIY branding may seem like a good idea for small businesses/startups on a budget, it’s usually an ample missed opportunity. Here are some of the main reasons why hiring professional help with your brand pays off:

Objectivity is Powerful

When you’re too close to your own company, seeing the forest for the trees and making tough strategic decisions is tough. A branding consultant brings that all-important third-party objectivity to bear so they can understand how you’re coming across and where best to place you.

Branding is a Specialisation

Creating a brand that turns heads and tugs hearts takes some particular skills— research chops, design talent, knowledge of psychology and trends, data analysis and creative storytelling (among other things). Good luck finding all that in one person at your company!

Industry Expertise is Crucial

A Seasoned branding pro knows their way around your particular field like nobody else’s business; they keep tabs on what’s happening out there that could affect your brand’s relevance. They know what works and what doesn’t, what will work next and how to make your efforts future-proof.

Best Practices Are Essential

Colour theory, typography rules, UI/UX principles: many moving parts go into crafting a consistent, user-friendly brand experience. Following industry best practices is critical — something which could take years for you to learn through trial and error alone.

Speed & Efficiency Matter

In business, time = money. Are many resources/work hours available for an extensive DIY branding process? Bringing in professionals means getting it done fast AND right so you can return to business.

Besides saving time & $$ by doing it once – doing it right from Jump Street avoids costly missteps or do-overs later on. A well-made brand by an expert who knows what they're doing is one of the soundest investments you can make — and it keeps paying for itself year after year!

Branding Consultation in Action: Best Buy Case Study

Best Buy Rebrand 2008

Enough talk about ideas – let’s see how a branding consultant saved a brand everyone recognises. Back in 2008, Best Buy was in big trouble:

  • They were having a hard time making their big box retail concept work
  • There wasn’t much to the brand beyond selling electronics
  • Younger people thought they were uncool and out of date
  • The logo and branding were boring, plain looking and corporate

Best Buy needed a complete brand transformation to succeed in the new digital age. So they did something pretty ballsy (but also pretty smart) – they hired brand consultant Wolff Olins.

For 16 months, the Wolff Olins team lived inside Best Buy. They did things like:

  • Conducting more than 200 customer interviews and ethnographic visits
  • Working with thousands of employees
  • Analysing piles of customer data and sales trends
  • Coming up with ideas along with leadership through workshops
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What’d they learn? Customers didn’t think of Best Buy as a technology seller – but as a place where you could solve life problems using tech. And that its people were the company’s best chance at making good on that mission.

With that knowledge, the consultants completely repositioned Best Buy from being another boring retailer into an exciting human-led tech solutions provider in line with this new identity. Their fresh brand platform centred around:

The purpose: “To make life fun and easy through helpful technology.”

The Mission: Unleash every individual’s unique potential through engaging experiences.

Pillars: Service focused. Human. Knowledgeable.

Best Buy Facebook Page

From there, everything else about Best Buy’s brand changed – starting with its newfound strategic core:

  • A redesigned logo that was warmer, more inviting and less corporate-feeling than before
  • A bright blue & yellow colour scheme meant to convey warmth and optimism
  • Fresh photographs featuring employees front & centre instead of generic stock photos
  • Store designs that looked more like community centers than big box stores
  • New partnerships with cool tech brands

All this might sound pretty risky (because it was). Still, the entire rebrand was based on extensive research and pulling back the curtain on how Best Buy could best position itself, given what motivated its workers and customers.

What happened? Best Buy became the friendly neighbourhood technology life coach for a new era they always wanted to be, but their image never allowed them to become. They brought fun back into their business model while staying true to what they’ve always done best – sell electronics. Not only did their stock price go up by 180%, but they also saw seven straight years of growth after completing these changes.

Talk about leveraging off investment in strategic brand consulting work. Not bad for a little bit of rebranding…

The Future of Branding is Human

There’s one thing I’d like to share with you: authenticity and a focus on the human experience are essential for any brand that wants to succeed today.

But customers are more discerning than ever before. They see right through companies that seem too slick or insincere. Marketers must dig deeper to foster absolute loyalty — the bond between a person and a brand that can withstand anything.

The brands that genuinely win us over are those that recognise our individuality. In an age when everything is automated and impersonalised, people want to be treated as more than just numbers or demographics.

That’s why successful branding relies on research-driven strategies informed by cultural analysis, buyer psychology insights and storytelling techniques designed to elicit emotional responses – something which all great branding consultants excel at delivering!

So, what should you do if you want your business’ identity to shine? Hire someone who can help it reflect who YOU are; find a branding consultant worth their weight in gold.

The Crucial Role of Employee Buy-In

You can have the most brilliant, insightful brand strategy in the world. But it'll all be for nought if your employees must be fully bought into living and breathing that brand.

Remember – your people are on the frontlines, representing and delivering on that brand promise through every interaction, every day. If they feel disconnected or unenthused, it'll show. And that disconnect will be glaringly apparent to your customers.

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That's why any great branding consultant will prioritise internal employee engagement, education, and empowerment alongside the external brand identity work. After all, your employees are your company's most significant brand ambassadors.

Here are some crucial ways they'll aim to foster brand love from the inside out:

Upfront Stakeholder Immersion

Right from that initial discovery phase, the branding team should conduct in-depth interviews, focus groups, cultural audits and the like across many levels of staff.

The goal? Understanding the current sentiment around the brand, uncovering points of misalignment/confusion, and gathering insights from the true cultural pioneers within your walls. This input is invaluable for shaping a brand employees can genuinely get behind.

Collaborative Brand Workshops

Rather than dictating the new brand direction, competent consultants will facilitate collaborative workshops to co-create it with a cross-section of passionate employees.

Things like drafting an inspiring purpose statement, defining personality traits, and pressure-testing creative brand concepts are far more powerful coming from staff versus an outside party.

Personal Founder/Leader Story Connection

There's nothing more galvanising than hearing the vision and mission of the new brand straight from the passionate leaders who are championing it.

So you can expect any solid brand unveiling to feature compelling stories from your executives on the deeper meaning behind the new direction – told in a way that reignites emotional buy-in.

Rigorous Internal Training

Once a new brand is finalised, consultants should develop robust training programs, creative engagement activations, fun swag and more to educate employees on:

This immersive training breeds excitement versus just slapping new logos on things.

Customised Ambassador Toolkits

Employees should be empowered with customised brand ambassador toolkits to keep that momentum. Think:

  • Internal comms templates to discuss the brand in their own words
  • Asset libraries and personal brand narrative prompts
  • Tools to proudly socialise the new brand on their networks

This gives employees a sense of ownership versus feeling like another top-down mandate.

The bottom line? When employees don't just understand the new brand identity but feel personally invested in activating it…that's when the magic happens. Thousands of pumped brand evangelists will bring it to life through every customer conversation, social post, and daily interaction.

Don't Settle – Demand Brilliant Branding

Cbs Branding History

This deep dive has hammered home just how powerful and nuanced the branding process is when done with artful expertise. It's so much more than slick logos or splashy ad campaigns.

A brilliant brand is one built upon:

  • Resonant emotional storytelling that connects on a human level
  • An authenticity rooted in research-backed consumer/cultural insights
  • Cross-channel consistency that delights in every encounter
  • The future-focused vision that stays ownable and relevant
  • Internal alignment that excites/empowers employees as ambassadors

In short – branding wins hearts, minds, and market share through the sheer force of its purpose. That's the kind of next-level brand elevation partnering with the right consultant can catalyse for businesses like yours.

Still, branding is more than just a one-and-done thing. It's an evolution, a constant pulse-check to ensure you adapt to societal shifts. A great branding consultant is your copilot along that journey, committed to nurturing and optimising your brand's strength with each new season.

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So I'll leave you with this – if you're looking to transform from a commodity to a beloved, dominant brand…don't settle. Don't cut corners. Invest in working with branding virtuosos who see their work as a science and art form.

Demand brilliant, human-centred branding powered by diligent strategy AND boundless creativity. It's the unfair advantage that separates industry leaders from the forgettable herd.

FAQs About Branding Consultation

How much does a branding consultation generally cost?

The price can vary significantly depending on the experience level, project scope, location, etc. However, it would be best if you were prepared to shell out between $10k-$100k+ for complete brand strategy and identity development at a reputable consultancy or firm. Most bills are on a per-project basis rather than an hourly basis.

How long does the branding process take?

This varies again, but founders can expect a 2-6 month timeline from kick-off to final brand identity delivery. The most labour-intensive stages are initial discovery/research (4-6 weeks) and multi-rounds of identity concepting/refinement (2-3 months). And that’s just the first rebrand solution – consider it an ongoing evergreen process with regular optimisations.

What’s the difference between a branding agency and a consultant?

Branding agencies are full-service creative firms that holistically handle everything related to branding – research & strategy through visual identity and more. Consultants are typically solo experts or boutique teams focused solely on strategic brand positioning work. Many companies use both types for maximum branding horsepower.

Is branding only for big companies with big budgets?

Absolutely not! Any company size or stage can benefit from professional branding consultation. Strategic branding is most critical for startups & small businesses trying to differentiate themselves and scale quickly. However, the level of consulting services and associated costs shall correspond with the client scale/industry.

How do consultants conduct market/consumer research?

Elite consultants employ various qualitative & quantitative research methods such as focus groups, one-on-one interviews, ethnographic studies, and online surveys – all aimed at understanding behaviours, sentiments and customer personas that inform brand roadmap.

What if I hate the initial brand concepts?

It’s rare when working with genuinely expert consultants, but it happens – which is why they include multiple rounds of feedback and refinement. Any good brand partner will iterate until you’re 110% happy, not settle for a meh solution.

How can I measure branding ROI?

There are several indicators of ROI, such as increased perceived value/brand equity scores, higher brand awareness, web traffic, conversions, sales revenue growth, etc. However, for many companies, the intangible culture impacts + stronger customer relationships achieved become the most extensive long-term returns.

Should I invest in branding guidelines/assets?

Without comprehensive branding guidelines, your new brand won’t have any teeth or be taken seriously. A complete brand book establishes rules for logo usage, colour palette, typography, imagery style & tone of voice, etc., so that nothing feels all over the place or off-brand moving forward.

When is it time to rebrand?

There’s no one-size-fits-all, but common rebrand triggers include going through major pivots/expansions, needing to reposition within the market, growing to serve new audiences, staying culturally relevant, recovering from a PR crisis, or simply modernising an outdated look/direction.

What makes a “bad” brand?

Typically, bad brands are forgettable/’commoditised’ identities with no defined purpose or positioning – where elements fall flat/feel generic or derivative, and there’s little emotional resonance or differentiation between competitors. External branding is also often misaligned with the authentic internal culture + ethos behind the company.
The strategic care and attention that must go into creating an icon is the same as any other part of a company’s brand identity. For instance, the most famous ones, like Colonel Sanders or the Michelin Man, embody the brand's personality; they have a clear purpose and are consistently uniquely activated across all marketing channels.

How often should brands be refreshed?

Although it is essential for core brand positioning and purpose to be timeless, experts recommend conducting complete audits on brand identities at least once every 5-7 years. This allows for slight shifts over time that keep brands connected with culture while staying attractive to new people.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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