Building a foundation for your brand
When we begin any branding-related project, our first step is to build a solid foundation. Regardless of the final deliverables, this is generally where most of the true value lies, if a company is able to take advantage of it.
So what does that foundation look like? Every branding agency has its own approach, but the one we’ve found works best for us consists of three parts: Vision, Mission, and Values.
Our vision: what difference are we making? This is the big question facing any organization. How are we changing our world? It’s important to say “our world” because it gives you the ability to adjust the scope of the world differently – some companies really want to change the entire world; other companies are content to change the community in which they operation. This is the vision question: what is our vision?
Our mission: what do we do now? This is a “smaller” question than the vision question, and should be periodically re-evaluated. Basically, what actions do we need to take over the next couple years to move toward our long term vision?
Our values: how do we do what we do? This isn’t about tactics, but about philosophies and values. Every organization has a culture, and that culture determines how it does what it does. Does it do it with a community focus, with a focus on employees, with a focus on being the best? Many people in a company have an intuitive sense of what the values are, but spelling them out and making them official is often one of the best things a company can do.
Of these three, most companies seem to focus on the Mission first, then the Vision, and finally their Values. But this is in reverse order of importance! The most important thing a company can do to ensure its long-term success is to identify its values. Anything a company does is done by its employees. And its employees exist in the company’s culture and do those things in the context of the company’s culture. As a company grows, and management gets further from the front lines, its only levers are those things that affect its culture. And the culture is fundamentally defined by the company’s values, stated or unstated.
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Defining these foundations is vital to a company’s marketing and brand efforts. They are the foundation upon which everything else is built. Without them, any efforts are just ad hoc and success is just luck.
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Hey! This wasn't written by a gang of elk! It was written by Josh Orum, who does awesome work at Loud Dog, a digital branding firm in San Francisco that helps businesses express themselves authentically via identities, websites, and marketing collateral.
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