How to build a Strong Brand what is the ID Branding Framework

Today it’s commonly accepted that strong brands accelerate business performance, with the power to lift companies, their products and services from obscurity or commodity status to positions of preeminence in their marketplaces. We define “brand” as the recognition and personal connection that forms in the hearts and minds of your customers and other key audiences through their accumulated experience with your brand, at every point of contact. Ideally the brand that emerges is a positive one, leading to trust, loyalty and advocacy for your offerings, increasing shareholder value and establishing long-term advantage in the marketplace.
More than just defining the nature and effect of brands, however, it’s important to define the disciplines and elements needed to build and manage them effectively.
Our conviction is that branding, at its best, is more than a marketing responsibility – it is an integrating business practice. We believe branding should span your organization, weaving across and through personal interactions, corporate culture, communications, products and services. It should both reflect and inform your business decisions, and it should guide all of your customer contact points. Your brand should be championed by top management and embodied from the inside out by all of your employees, product offerings and communications – at all times. Branding should never be treated as a project that has a beginning or an end.
Because branding must span broadly to be most integrated and effective, branding programs can be difficult to plan, develop and manage. In response to this problem, ID Branding has developed the ID Branding Framework, a model that provides a holistic view of the various facets of branding. This framework identifies and relates key branding disciplines, points of understanding, activities, and tangible expressions of the brand. It is designed to support the definition, creation and management of broadly integrated branding programs.
The ID Branding Framework is built around four core disciplines, each of which plays a vital role in branding: brand strategy, brand identity, brand management and brand experience.
When building a new brand, these four disciplines can be viewed from left to right as sequential phases of development. When working with existing brands, however, each of the disciplines operates concurrently – they are interdependent and work together over time.
Building strong Brand 
Figure 1. Four core branding disciplines form the backbone of the ID Branding Framework.
Brand Strategy 
Figure 2. The ID Branding Framework relates a variety of elements to the four core branding disciplines.
As shown in Figure 2, each of the core disciplines has several related elements. These elements may represent points of understanding, activities, building blocks or types of communications.
Brand Identity
ID Branding chose to define branding with a framework model because it best serves the following objectives:
  • Establishing a holistic, yet scalable approach for building company and product brands
  • Providing a foundational set of concepts and terminology for branding activities
  • Encompassing long-term brand management in addition to specific development projects
  • Enabling effective branding work to start at any point in the life cycle of a brand
The framework is different than a methodology or process because it doesn’t require that all branding activities begin with development of a new brand strategy and/or identity system.
What the framework demands is a clear understanding and validation of the current brand strategy, identity, planning and delivery. It can reveal “holes” or “soft spots,” and it helps identify the need, if any, for specific work to bring branding elements into alignment. It helps integrate new branded work, be it an advertising campaign or signage for a lobby, with what already exists, thus avoiding the all-too-common creation of a story, look or feel that’s out of step with other branding efforts.
Most importantly, the ID Branding Framework addresses branding as a business practice over the long term, and throughout an organization, providing a comprehensive foundation for building and managing a strong brand over time.
A General-Purpose Model
The ID Branding Framework is designed to support a number of different brand-building situations:
  • Creation of new corporate and/or product brands
  • Development of well-integrated branded communications
  • Ongoing promotion and management of existing brands
  • Clarification and/or revitalization of an existing brand
  • Consolidation and alignment of multiple brands
  • Internal brand promotion and adoption
  • Extension of an existing brand
In each case, the framework provides a visually mapped checklist rather than explicit processes, so it can serve a variety of needs, supporting both the development and long-term management of brands.
Core Branding Disciplines
The following sections explore the ID Branding Framework and its branding disciplines in more depth. The glossary at the end of this whitepaper provides definitions of each of the framework elements.
Brand Strategy
The ID Branding Framework begins with the Brand Strategy discipline. Its purpose is two-fold: to understand key aspects of a company’s business, its marketplace, its customers and other key audiences, and then to use these insights to define an appropriate brand strategy.
The brand strategy is critical because it sets the foundation for all other branding activities it establishes a focused understanding and direction that’s agreed upon at the highest levels of the organization, before creative development wo
rk begins. It helps pre-empt the “brand chaos” that arises naturally from conflicting goals and personal beliefs, and it provides vital input to align creative and management processes.
Based on a thorough discovery of the company, its offerings, audiences and competitive marketplace, the strategy defines the overall brand architecture (defining the relationships of corporate, product, partner and ingredient brands), a differentiated position in the marketplace, a hierarchy of messages crafted to resonate with customers, a distinctive brand promise and a projection of the customer’s ideal overall brand experience.
In addition to more focused documents, often all of the discovery and strategy elements will be consolidated in a document called the Brand Platform.
Brand Identity
Informed and directed by the Brand Strategy elements, the Brand Identity discipline provides the highly distinctive outward expressions of the company’s values, personality and promise its identity system consisting of elements such as the name and logo that are used repeatedly to provide instant recognition in a crowded marketplace. Beyond name and logo, the Brand Identity expresses the organization’s purpose and personality through a well-defined color palette, a characteristic design system and additional verbal branding such as a tagline and category-defining phrases for products and services.
In addition to the corporate identity, identity systems may also be developed for specific sub-organizations, products, services and programs. These systems may be designed to work closely within the corporate identity or stand on their own, depending on the architecture defined in the brand strategy. All of these identity elements, along with assets such as reusable graphics and photography, even audio signatures, are then available for repeated application to give the brand its consistency, distinctiveness and recognizability.
Brand Management
With the identity system in place, it’s easy to assume that the stage is set for application of its elements to the full spectrum of branded communications and interactions building the customer’s brand experience. But the inclusion of the Brand Management discipline at this point in the framework is critical for the three key functions it provides:
    * Planning coordinated launch and delivery of brand messages, both internally and externally, integrating with business and marketing plans to optimize impact and cost-effectiveness-planning not just individual projects, but optimizing the overall priority, mix and rollout of projects to best connect with the customer
    * Actively cultivating brand understanding, adoption and ability among employees and others who will be creating the customer’s brand experience – providing them with brand training, assets and tools so they can consistently deliver “on-brand” communications, personal interactions and products
    * Setting up a system and tools for monitoring and assessing the brand’s health, so that resulting insights can be used not only to maintain brand alignment, but also to evolve the brand strategy, identity, experience and management over time – allowing brand managers to move beyond mere consistency and build a brand that can adapt and flourish in the marketplace
These functions make brand management an essential discipline, both for rolling out new brands and for managing existing brands to best effect. It is the guiding hand that promotes the brand, protects its integrity and moves it forward.
Brand Experience
A customer’s experience with a brand is typically the happenstance result of poorly coordinated communications and company contacts. The goal of the Brand Experience discipline, however, is to enable companies to design a range of experiences that customers and other audiences will find meaningful, memorable, and associate explicitly with your brand. Doing this is the surest path to building brand trust, loyalty and advocacy.
The Brand Experience discipline includes, but is not limited to traditional market communications. It extends well beyond them to include personal interactions, events, environments even the appearance, function and reliability of products and services and any other opportunities for you and your audiences to come into contact.
In addition to building the full array of experiences, the term “Brand Experience” is aspirational: it speaks to the goal of making every point of contact with the customer and other audiences as remarkable, engaging and compelling as possible and of clearly tying these positive experiences to your brand.
Designed to help build and strengthen the brand connection between organizations and their customers, the ID Branding Framework serves a number of needs. It brings together what are often disparate business and marketing efforts and applies specific branding disciplines to them. It defines the critical facets of branding, relates key disciplines and elements to each other, and provides a common terminology and approach. And, because the framework is scalable, it facilitates coordinated, big-picture thinking whether the task at hand is as small as creating a promotional leaflet or as large as branding an entire organization and its products. Ultimately, the framework serves over time to build a brand’s strength, and with it an organization’s success. 

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