The industry standard answer is someone who creates a brand message and then devises a plan to promote and communicate it.
What I believe the correct definition should be is someone who first articulates the purpose of the business by distilling the essence of the company culture and why it exists. The Brand Strategist crafts a Verbal Brand Document that clearly communicates the “reason for being” of the company through a newly revised Mission, Vision, Purpose Statment, Values, Attributes, Brand Voice and Archetype of the Brand. The Verbal Brand Document should be an authentic reflection of the essence of the business — speaking with meaning, emotion, and purpose to psychologically connect with potential customers to overcome the temptation of competing on price or features.
From filling a short term staffing gap to the implementation of a significant program of organizational structural change, consultants can provide valuable expertise and insights to help companies achieve their goals and execute a strategy.
But when is the right time to hire a consultant, how do you choose a good consultant, and what on-going steps should you take to ensure you get the best out of a client-consultant relationship?
External validation. CEO’s and their leadership team have their plates full already. They often know there’s a problem or room for improvement and sometimes know the solution but don’t have time to plan and execute a new strategy. They need the professional objective option from an external perspective.
Accountability. Business leaders desire accountability. They understand to make changes they need someone holding them to a schedule and pushing to keep the important things front and center.
Expertise. Adding a consultant to a leadership team is providing a valuable team member that has a specific skill, diverse experience, and a fresh perspective.
Leadership. Consultants can lead the discussion on those hard-to-answer questions that everyone may have been side-stepping. Driving results and uncovering opportunities is essential to moving a business forward and aligning the brand to its purpose. They can also be “the bad guy” and allow the CEO to step back for a change and be one of the team.
Before you hire a designer to create a marketing piece or a marketing agency to market your business, the company needs to have its brand messaging fully-developed to guide the designer and marketer.
If consistency is king, then congruency is the supreme ruler. Being consistent is healthy for the brand, but congruency connects with purpose. Before you can be consistent with a message, that message needs to be congruent with your purpose. Congruency breeds trust. When everything aligns (messaging, product, service, and experience) expectations are met, and a relationship is cemented. They can trust you to be who you say you are.
People need to know why (even if it's on a non-verbal and subconscious level) they interact with your company. What does it provide them as a person? If you abandoned "the why", the only things left are "the how" and "the what". "The how" can be duplicated and "the what" leads to competing on price.
Hiring a Brand Strategist first before embarking on any advertising, marketing, and design is essential to creating a strong brand.
I would recommend a Brand Workshop as the start of any brand strategy. The contents and methods of workshops vary, but they intend to incorporate a holistic understanding of your company, industry and the customer groups that are particular to your business. Depending on how complex your branding or brands/sub-brands are, a workshop can take a least a half-day to a two-day group session.
If you can’t get everyone in the room at one time, individual interviews can be done. Conducting the workshop in this way will take more time on the part of the brand strategist but provides less disruption to the business. One downside is the leadership team doesn’t get to hear and give feedback to the group as a whole. A synopsis document can be created to provide a snapshot of where everyone sits on the spectrum delivering insight on how close or far apart everyone is on a consensus of brand messaging.
Once everyone is on the same page, a Verbal Brand Document is developed from the results of the workshop to refresh the company’s Mission, Vision, Purpose Statement, Values, Attributes, Brand Voice and Archetype of the Brand to paint the picture with depth and color.
Purpose Branding has an online course, a Workbook or can conduct an on-site Brand Workshop with the leadership team of your company. After the workshop is complete, a complete Verbal Brand Document is created to get your feedback and approval that the description is authentic to your unique Brand Culture. The Verbal Brand Document is the foundation of any brand and branding activity, naming, renaming or rebranding. Without a clear understanding of who you are and where you want to go, a rebrand will be just a decorative upgrade.