"Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business."
- Steve Forbes
"You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do."
- Henry Ford
"A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another."
- Seth Godin
"Branding is the process of connecting good strategy with good creativity."
- Marty Neumeier
What do these quotes have in common? Well, obviously, they are all about branding. But it’s also important to note that these quotes are not about the function of marketing. Instead, these intelligent businesspeople are talking about the brand as an essential business element that affects the entire company, from operations to finances.
However, companies come to us every day asking for branding as part of a new marketing strategy. They’ve already written their business plan, started product development, or acquired a new company. Instead of addressing the brand when creating and building their business, they’ve relegated it to the marketing process. This is short-sighted and dangerous for any company. As we said in a previous blog, branding is not the same as marketing and shouldn’t be addressed in the same way.
Brand Before Marketing
Your brand is your starting point. It should inform your strategic plan, not the other way around. For instance, your new clothing company should know and articulate your mission, purpose, and values, who your target customer is and what your product mix is (all elements of your brand) before making decisions on how and where to sell your clothing line (which are marketing functions). Likewise, when a medical product company comes to us to help them showcase their products at a trade show, the product development team should already know how their brand’s mission and vision is reflected in their products.
When your company is entering a new market or launching anything new, understanding how your brand solves the customers problem is so important. These reasons need to be articulated early on to every decision from ideation to launch is connected. Think of your brand as the launching point for every other aspect of your business.
The Process of Brand
Because your brand is so essential, developing it should never be rushed. The Phase 3 branding process has four phases, Intelligence, Strategy, Creative, and Activation, and our team suggests for a four to six month timeline when building a new brand. Our process is iterative, meaning we start with the foundational elements and then build from there. Each phase builds on the other. It’s challenging to overlap phases without compromising the process.
The Intelligence phase is critical. This is when you will build the foundation of your brand. The team will use quantitative research, qualitative workshops, and customer interviews to discover your brand vision. We’ll also identify your market opportunities, threats, differentiators, innovations, and competitors. These insights are critical to developing the framework for the rest of the process.
The second phase is defining your brand. We will define what makes your brand unique. We’ll identify your mission, purpose, value proposition, and positioning. In other words, we’ll uncover your brand’s WHY and where it fits in the marketplace. During the second phase, we will develop your brand strategy, including your brand narrative, voice, tone, and headlines.
The creative process is the third stage. Here, we’ll enlist our creative team to bring your brand to life. We’ll create a brand identity, write a brand language, and develop a brand guide. The deliverables in this phase will affect every physical, verbal, and digital representation of your brand, including product packaging, physical environments, websites, marketing and advertising campaigns, and more. This phase is where your timeline can be extended if you have a lot of elements to build or update. For example, our team usually needs about 3 to 6 months to build a website. Also, certain legalities like trademarks can cause a layer of complexities that require extra time.
The last step of the branding process is actualization or, as we call it, the “proof of the strategy.” Our brand team will help you develop an internal and external launch of your new brand. You’ll have measurable goals and KPIs to track results and uncover issues. The end result is a cohesive brand experience that is consistent, authentic, and drives positive results.
Piedmont House, a Case Study
The team at Wood Partners, one of the nation's largest multifamily real estate developers, are experts at apartment living. But when planning a first-of-its-kind luxury leasing experience in Atlanta, they turned to Phase 3 to help them craft a brand suitable for discerning connoisseurs of the good life. The build took two years, and Phase 3 was part of the development team from the beginning.
As one of the first new builds on Piedmont Park in over ten years, with a price point to match its outstanding location, our team was tasked with naming the property and developing a compelling brand narrative and identity. The main challenge was positioning this property as upscale leasing with all the benefits of a privately owned residence but without the stress of ownership. This wasn't your everyday apartment dwelling but a graciously appointed home in the middle of the city's sought-after Midtown neighborhood.
We worked with the developer to create a lifestyle brand that elevated the standard for upscale living in Midtown Atlanta. The new name we developed, Piedmont House, conveys timelessness and opulence, reflecting the core brand attributes of the property. Piedmont House was branded as luxury, focusing the build on upscale finishes, spacious floorplans, and first-class amenities.
By starting early, we were able to create memorable brand touchpoints woven into the design of the property itself. For example, the ginkgo leaf, crossed keys and the green/gold color palette incorporated throughout the interiors were designed by the Phase 3 brand team. As a result, Piedmont House has a living brand expression that stretches across every buyer touchpoint, from the logo, messaging, color palette, and typography, to the high-style, high-utility website, signage, and even business cards, thank-you cards, property overview brochures, and other sales collateral.
With a strong and memorable brand supporting its luxurious accommodations, Piedmont House has become the city's most sought-after address.
Start Early and Call The Phase 3 Brand Team