Blog / Brand Identity
Our Brand Identity Approach
At Marshall Strategy, our approach to brand identity is straightforward yet rigorous at every stage. In summary, we first seek to understand our clients from the inside out, including who they are and aspire to be, how they compete, and the unique challenges they face. With this understanding, we next develop visual and verbal concepts that communicate each client’s unique essence.
Once we know what we’re trying to say, we can then get creative, finding the right voice and tone for visual and verbal expression. Finally, we provide clients with the tools and guidance for all the various ways they need to communicate their brand identity to the world.
For those of you who are new to Marshall Strategy or brand identity consulting in general, we’ve provided more details below on our brand identity approach.
Discovery: When we take on a new brand identity consulting project, we launch a discovery process to immerse ourselves into our clients’ business and industry. This process, which consists of internal, external and competitive research, ensures that we fully understand the challenges and opportunities facing each client. We then distill and deliver clear and achievable objectives, which become our touchstones in development, expression, and implementation. Clear objectives in our brand identity consulting work enables our clients to more easily make rational, rather than emotional, decisions on positioning, messaging, and naming.
Development: Development is a critical part of our brand identity services. Armed with clear objectives, we develop multiple strategic concepts, expressed through visual and verbal tools. Once this is accomplished, we then bring our most promising ideas to our clients for discussion and selection.
Expression: Once we’ve decided upon what we want to say, the brand magic begins. We craft creative and memorable expressions of each unique story. The deliverables in this step include logos and taglines, headlines and elevator pitches, visual systems, and guidance on the use of photography, illustration, tone of voice, and personality.
Implementation: At this stage of our brand identity consulting process, the brand identity system is ready for its public debut. We work with client teams and external partners to ensure they are focused on the most impactful priorities and have clear, achievable plans to execute the new identity strategy and system across internal or external initiatives. This approach to brand identity strategy provides a strong core for driving and inspiring coherence across touchpoints.
Our Brand Identity Services
The brand identity approach outlined above is only part of how Marshall Strategy creates value for its clients. We also offer the following services, getting powerful results by applying our proven framework to specific use cases.
Brand Strategy: Our brand strategy services can help you identify key attributes that you want to own in the minds of customers and other audiences. With this newfound clarity, we can then develop a strategy that enables you to articulate your core purpose in simple, differentiating ways.
Brand Positioning. Your brand position is how people think of you relative to others in your industry or market. We can help you articulate your positioning in the marketplace and devise a strategy to make this relevant, motivational, and sustainable over time.
Brand and Product Naming. Your name represents a huge opportunity to say something meaningful, memorable, and appealing about your brand. Instead of leaving this up to chance, we can help you establish a distinct and memorable handle by which the market gets to know you and your products.
Brand Identity Design. Your brand identity design should complement your name, expressing attributes not represented in the name – or reinforcing attributes that are. In fact, the best brand identities, like Nike, Shell and Apple, have designs that are recognized even when encountered apart from their names. We can craft brand identity designs that add emotional appeal and set the tone for the rest of your visual tools.
Brand Guidelines. Brand guidelines are important because they orchestrate all the components of your brand communication system. We believe the best guidelines are inspiring as well as informative, and help ensure that you convey a coherent expression of your brand across touchpoints.
Brand Experience. Every audience touchpoint presents an opportunity to help key audiences better understand your brand promise. We know how to deliver brand experiences that are felt, not just seen or heard, and can help you successfully convey your differentiating promise to customers and others you want to reach.
Some More Thoughts on Brand Identity
In addition to addressing inquiries about our services, Marshall Strategy also fields questions from people looking to better understand branding and how to do it well. Provided below is information on two brand-related topics that often create confusion:
Top Brand Identity Examples: If the concept of brand identity seems unclear, looking at examples of strong brands is a good way to better understand what it’s all about. Apple, IBM, Mastercard, and Nike are but a few companies that have established so much meaning and clarity that audiences don’t have to interact with their products and services to know what these companies stand for.
Brand Identity vs. Brand Image: Many people believe that brand identity and brand image are interchangeable when in reality, they’re quite different. To clarify: brand identity refers to who you objectively are: your company’s essential attributes, truths, and reasons that people are glad you exist. In contrast, brand image is how people think of you, based on their experiences and what other people tell them.
In an ideal world, brand identity and brand image should be aligned, with people knowing and appreciating you for exactly how you are. However, if your identity is stronger than your image, it means you’re not communicating well and getting credit for who you are. It’s likewise problematic if your brand image is stronger, creating hype and false expectations that you may not be able to live up to.