Sound brand strategy is only as good as it can be made a reality. Design strategy is about forming the mechanics to bring the strategy to life in the creative process. It is the bridge between what is business internal and what will ultimately be consumer-facing. Design strategy is tactical, precise, and can be executed over the long term. The ultimate goal is to create guidance with enough room to fuel creativity and newness but enough structure to create consistency and memorability. One thing we always remember is that the function of guidance is to direct the creation of a wide range of brand assets for the long term. With this, design strategy must be highly comprehensive yet concise enough for anyone to understand and act on with clarity.
Brand positioning, done best, will embody both universality and distinctiveness. The contrast of these two opposing forces creates a brand that is seen and felt. Universality is about a basic human desire. Beyond product, there is a robust, emotionally connected brand platform with values almost anyone can relate to. It is about generating resonance. With distinction, it is entirely about differentiation in the landscape. It emphasizes the things you do that no other brand does — pinpointed propositions delivered through product, experience, and style. It's about generating memorability. The power of positioning to produce widespread resonance and deep memorability fuels brands to scale and endure.
IT’S NOT REALLY ABOUT PRODUCT. IT’S ABOUT THE BRAND.
Like everything else, a strong portfolio architecture should hail the brand, not the product. Great brands have great product, but are beyond product. Brand-centricity is the key mindset to have for portfolio strategy, especially for consumer goods where the product is the primary source of brand experience. Every SKU, tier, limited-edition, and price point, should be easy to navigate and have a specific purpose for the brand overall. It’s about creating different ways to experience the brand, while being mindful to never convolute the brand. All are essential pieces that form the big picture.
A name is a powerful first impression and a lasting mark. It is one of your strongest brand assets — designed to allure in a fleeting moment and endure through time. Never take the power of naming too lightly. A name can convey critical information, flex style, generate emotion, and drive aspiration. The naming strategy is tailor-made to the brand and takes into consideration the product, design, tone of voice, and portfolio. A name is an integral component of design — not an afterthought, but a key asset considered within the context of the creative direction and brand character overall. From hyper-functional to poetically transportive, there is no one right way to name, except to do it with intention. In a single moment, a name truly does say it all. And thus, the power of naming is the power to generate attraction.
Equally provocative and protective, a great business strategy asks the right questions, digs deeper, and pieces together to protect the big picture. It is about building a foundation for a brand upon which everything else can stand. Protecting the brand's big picture requires a collaborative approach in the creative and business thinking processes. Firmly rooted in the brand's interest but flexible to the conditions of the market and culture, business strategy is the brand's reliable protector who stays the course.
Almost the art of war, brands must be keenly aware of their surroundings and thoroughly in tune with themselves. Trend reporting and audits are about tapping the movements in culture, tracking your enemies, and then investigating your brand in relation to both. You don't need to pick a path forward blindly. A great audit will reveal the way forward. It will uncover pain points and bring to light the areas of opportunity. Never about copying; looking at the surrounding landscape is about opening up possibilities and activating new ideas that are informed, relevant, and specific to your brand.