Defining Your Brand: Throw Creativity Out The Window


Katy DwyerBy Katy Dwyer, Partner and Creative Director, Hand in Hand Marketing

Throw creativity out the window. That is probably a very shocking statement from a creative agency, and especially coming from the creative director herself. Let me explain…

The marketing misconception.

There’s a preconceived notion that all of us in the marketing/advertising field spend their days hanging out in creative spaces, brainstorming with buddies in the boardroom, doodling all day, and coming up with witty and spunky headlines and visuals for their clients. On most days, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Research. Research. Research.

The fact is a proper branding strategy never begins with a brainstorming session. It begins with fact-finding. To define, or redefine, a company’s brand, we must first look at and study a number of key factors:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What is the profile of that demographic? What do they like/dislike? How old are they? What do they care
  • about? Where do they shop? What drives them?
  • Who are the competitors in the marketplace?
  • What sets the company apart from the pack?
  • What marketing avenues make sense to use to get the brand message out there?

A marketer is a problem-solver.

The problem that needs solving? How do we effectively reach, engage, and excite a company’s target audience? How do we connect with them emotionally in order to build brand love? These are problems that won’t be solved simply by running a cool-looking ad or writing a humorous headline.

Brand strategy first. Creativity last.

Only once we’ve identified what the business goals are, and who the target audience is, can we truly start putting pen to paper. Once we know what that brand message should be, then we can begin to build a voice for the brand through communications and visual style.

About the Author: At Hand in Hand Marketing, Katy Dwyer works with small businesses to provide everything from broad strokes–like marketing plans–to visual branding, such as logos and websites, and promotional items, apparel, trade show displays, and printing. She’s worked professional as a graphic designer and marketer since 1999.

1 Comment

  1. Ford Kanzler on at 10:42 AM

    “Strategy first, then tactics.” Most people (clients) want to dive into tactics first. If they think they have a strategy, it most often lacks any competitive differentiation. Looking at their website there may be something like, “XYZ Corp. is a leading supplier/provider of (whatever).” A claim with any teeth in it (meaningfulness to customers), isn’t to be found.

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