A branding framework, “brand DNA,” or “brand book,” is essential knowledge about who we are as an organization, where we’re headed, and what we stand for. A proper framework invites us to think deeply about our business and then puts us in position to communicate our brand to any audience. Example audiences include internal ones like our employees and managers; external ones like advertising agencies, web developers, and other suppliers; and above all it lets us communicate effectively to our customers, “clients,” or “guests.” A branding framework covers a lot of territory from internal strategic intentions to external marketing messages and, therefore, is one of our organization’s most important documented knowledge.
It is very common for people to use the word “branding” and for it to mean different things to different people. It is natural for an advertising agency to say the word branding and for it to mean an ad campaign. To a graphic artist, branding usually means a logo or other symbol they designed. We are going to define branding as something much bigger than an advertisement or a logo. For us, branding is:
The total impact of the organization on our clients and the marketplace.
A brand is composed of hundreds of little fragments of client perception. Our logo, our website, the retail products we carry, the way we dress, our salons’ interiors, the way an individual client was treated by a receptionist and then how she described that to a friend. Every little interaction and every way our clients come into contact with us, our staff and our salons comes together to create an image. It all builds up to create our brand. Stated another way,
Our brand = what we stand for; but not just in our minds: Primarily in the minds of our clients.
WHY A FRAMEWORK?
The most practical reason we want to invest time in creating a branding framework for our organization is because no two people are alike and it is very rare for any two people to describe the same company the same way. The more “technical” reason for our framework is to create continuity in our brand story and to connect all those little fragments of perception in the minds of our clients in just the right way so they choose us instead of our competition. That also goes for attracting talented people who want to come to work for us. They need to know who we are, where we’re going, and what we stand for because we want to work with people who value the same things we value and want to be part of a journey that is bigger than any one of us. Finally, it also goes for those of us currently on the team. We want to make a difference. We want to make our mark. We want all our hard work to mean something and to pay off. Pulling our branding framework together will bring us together in old and new ways.
By taking the time to get clarity about what’s important, to document it in a way that creates a common understanding among us, and then to communicate what we believe to our clients with one voice has the potential to be one of the most powerful things we do.