Brand Strategy consists of defining a company’s goals, values, and audience, and using this information to create a cohesive brand through visuals and language. But what does that look like day-to-day?
Dribble asked Brand Strategists Brittany Barnhart of Powerhouse Brand Studio, Erik Weikert of Bay State Design Shop, John Maitland of Richmond’s Campfire & Co., Emily Johnston of Artio Design Co., and Blake Chamberlain of Aisle 9 for their perspectives on how their daily tasks help shape their client’s brand identity and connect with their core audience.
Need the TL;DR?
The big takeaways on the roles of Brand Strategists include:
- Understanding a company, the audience, company goals, competitor awareness, and defining the organization’s values.
- Creating a foundation and approach based on this research to position the brand in its market.
- Planning visuals, language, tone, and voice to deliver a cohesive identity across all platforms.
- (At times) getting hands-on in the design and copywriting that builds a brand.
Here’s what they had to say:
At Just Curious, my goal for any client is to remove the mundane and provide clarity. In every brand strategy session that I do, I aim to get to know their business inside and out, and ask the hard questions that they probably don’t want to think about. These are questions that anyone who’s running a business should know, and working with clients to help them realize this could help their growth. Through these questions, we build a foundation for their brand strategy and from there we dive into the actual build-out of their brand identity.
With all clients, I schedule a meeting for our strategy session, a follow up to reiterate and get approval on a mood board, and one to discuss initial design concepts. Most of the magic happens during these meetings because I get to share my creative knowledge with them and showcase what their business could be. I know all of the women I work with are very busy, so I keep it as tight and concise as I can. These meetings help us get on the same page and ask any questions that may arise. I want them to understand how I took the knowledge from our strategy session and used that to build their brand.
Due to the fluid nature of our processes at Pilot, my role can transition greatly depending on the particular partnership or challenge ahead. Often it begins with helping organizations to clarify and clearly articulate the foundational elements of their brand, such as purpose, differentiator(s), values, etc. From here, I usually work to use audience/market research and the brand foundation to identify a distinctive and ownable positioning for the brand in the market. Once we have a general consensus on that strategy, I work alongside our diverse team to develop solutions that clearly communicate the brand’s story.
On an average day, my tasks include research, discussions with clients, copywriting, leading a super-talented group of designers, and getting my hands dirty in a design solution when needed. Other days include facilitating client workshops, working with our illustration, 3D & photo/video teams, and educating new and potential partners on brand development practices and their benefits.
Brand strategy is essential and integral to all of our design work. At it’s most basic level, brand strategy means asking, “Why?” before “How?” We at Campfire & Co. believe brand strategy is the roadmap of a company’s vision—it considers an organization’s goals, its true differentiators, target audiences, and brand personality.
As a designer and project manager, I work with our Lead Strategist to guide our clients through a process that helps us identify these key aspects of a brand’s strategy. We then use these discoveries as the foundation of our design work, allowing our visual decisions to be guided by an organization’s goals and personality. This process ensures our design work is rooted in the most important aspects of a brand and in turn, we are better able to represent the brand and connect with its audience.
Working as a Brand Strategist involves carefully planning messaging and imagery to meet one or more goals. This is essentially what my role entails; though on a deeper level I focus on guiding clients on a journey to develop and share their brand’s story in a clear and authentic way. Sort of like distilling a fancy spirit, you refine everything gathered from the process to form a cohesive brand that delivers on value. From big-picture thinking to tiny details, I aim to connect meaningful storytelling with compelling visuals to create unforgettable experiences.
Each project is unique but my workflow often begins by talking all things branding to unearth key goals, while gaining a strong understanding of where things are at and an ideal direction. From there, I dive further into research, collecting inspiring material and filling my sketchbook with new ideas. Bringing these ideas to life in the digital world, experimenting, and discovering the possibilities always adds to the excitement!
When it comes to helping entrepreneurs and small business owners with their brand strategy, my approach is foundation first. I love sitting across the table from a client, digging into their vision and helping to bring it to life. For me, that looks like honing into four main areas: Who You Are, What Problem You Solve, Finding Your Niche, and Using Your Voice. I love diving deep and helping businesses sort out these main pieces and then leverage them in their marketing and strategy.
When I’m not digging into helping entrepreneurs build the foundation and strategy for their brands, I’m working on design and collateral for a handful of clients—helping to bring their brand to life through design, photography and content marketing.