Depending on the size of a business it typically takes a good 6-18 months to build a successful brand strategy. Right? Wrong. This is old school thinking based on 'black box' designing.
Credit: Austin Distel Source: Unsplash
Why does branding usually take so long?
Traditional methods call for completing a series of tasks one by one in a ‘waterfall’ fashion. One set of tasks can't begin until another set are completed. At each stage there are sign-offs. Bottlenecks exist all over the place. Someone goes on holiday. A team is pulled onto something else more important. Momentum gets lost. It takes ages.
It's almost like leaders send a brief into a black box. Nobody really knows what goes on in there. We just hope something will come out that's brilliant at the end.
It's just not good enough. By the time the branding work is complete the market has moved on and most of the decisions are now already behind the times.
Staff get demoralised. It's painful.
What's the solution.
I propose a more radical ‘agile’ approach to branding. An approach based on design sprints and design thinking. An approach where steps simultaneously are attacked all at once instead of sequentially.
This dramatically speeds things up. It’s called "agile strategy", a process championed by branding guru Marty Neumeier. I've had the privilege of being trained by Marty personally and passed his 'Level-C' certification course. If you are interested in how agile works in depth then buy Marty's latest book, SCRAMBLE which I actually helped to proofread (*claim to fame* my names in the back as a credit ).
I utilise this thinking to work more closely and quickly with clients. By adopting a more collaborative approach to strategy, and working simultaneously, agile teams can complete a framework for a new brand in fewer than six weeks.
Six weeks versus 6-18 months. Now that's a solution for the modern business.
What does it take?
Typically, at the heart of the 6 weeks, there is a full 5 day series of workshops/design sprints. The days would be designed and facilitated by an experienced external consultant (e.g. me ;-).
The agile team "swarms" on the problem at hand, setting the strategy and working through solutions. Brand identities can be created with multi-disciplined designers in the room based on the thinking everyone has focused in on and understands.
This saves huge amounts of time. Depending on exactly what is needed, after the initial workshops a series of design sprints can take place with 'huddle' check-ins to ensure the communication, messaging, launching and living of the brand thinking can be executed.
This does take buy-in and involvement from senior leadership. This is because decisions need to be made. Design thinking, prototyping and 'failing fast failing cheap' strategies are used to help answer key questions like: • What is our purpose, story and ‘archetypal’ character • Who do we serve? • Where should we compete? • How will we win? • How will we grow?
So next time someone tells you it's going to take 12 months - know it can be done quicker. But it takes bravery and commitment to make it work.
The future though, is agile strategy.