—Oh, you’re so creative, can you just whip up this [pretty design] for me?
—If you can just play around with some sketches, it probably won’t take you long!
—You work in marketing, right?
—I need someone to draw this for me, and I know you’re into artsy stuff so…
The other day, as I was chatting with a potential client, it dawned on me that; to someone who isn’t in my line of business; branding, design, and marketing, even art — anything labelled “creative industry” really — might all seem like one big, slightly confusing, mess.
Business strategy, brand strategy, brand identity, brand design, and marketing are all important components of a successful business. We all know that. And while they are related, each of these elements has a unique purpose and plays a distinct role in building your business.
So I thought: let me record a super quick guide to help you understand how these disciplines are connected, where they sit in relation to each other, and which of them I can actually help you with.
TL;DR — episode links:
Before I get started, I also wanted to clarify the difference between a brand and branding — because that’s also something I’ve noticed people often get confused about.
You’ve probably heard the saying by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos: “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”
And this is exactly it: Your brand is how people perceive your company. It’s basically made up of emotions inside people’s minds, it’s the combined impression of all the times and places where they have come across your brand. This is impossible to ever be 100% in control of, because you can’t go in and hack people’s brains into feeling a certain way about you or your business. Thank fuck for that!
But, you can try to influence how they feel. And those actions, the stuff you do, real actions that you take, to influence people’s opinion or perception of your brand. The actions you take to build a certain image of your company. That is branding.
Now we have the basics covered, let’s move on to:
Business strategy refers to the long-term plan of action that you develop to achieve your company’s goals. This strategy includes things like defining the target market, identifying customer needs, developing products or services, setting prices, and creating a distribution plan. It also includes stuff like financial planning, resource allocation, and identifying competitive advantages — how can you stay ahead of the competition. It’s a big chunk of your business foundations, for sure!
Brand strategy is a subset of business strategy that focuses on building and promoting the company’s brand. There’s definitely a lot of overlap with business strategy, but brand strategy specifically involves things like defining your brand values and purpose, creating a unique brand identity, developing a brand positioning statement, defining the brand’s personality, and identifying the target audience. A strong brand strategy should be aligned with the company’s overall business strategy to help you achieve your business goals.
Then we have…
This is another essential component that ties in with business strategy, brand strategy, brand design, and marketing. It is the overall look and feel of a brand, yes. But it’s more than just the logo, colours, and fonts — it includes both visual elements and non-visual elements such as messaging, brand photos, tone, voice, and personality. It’s informed by your brand strategy, and informs the brand design, and is also an essential aspect of marketing. A strong brand identity helps you to stand out from your competitors, builds trust with customers, and helps to create a consistent experience across all channels and touchpoints.
Brand design is the visual representation of a company’s brand. That is where you’ll find the logo, colour palette, typography, and overall visual communication, aka: how all of your brand’s visual assets are combined to create a recognisable and distinct style. Think social media graphics, website design, branded collateral and merch, brochures, packaging… the lot! Your brand designs should be consistent across all marketing materials and they should communicate clearly the brand’s personality and values.
Marketing refers to the tactics used to promote and sell your company’s products or services. It includes things like advertising, public relations, sales promotions, and digital marketing. Marketing is a critical component of any business strategy because it helps to attract new customers, retain existing customers, and build brand awareness.
How these overlap and complement each other:
There you have it: Business strategy, brand strategy, brand identity, brand design, and marketing all overlap and complement each other. A strong brand strategy should inform the brand design and marketing tactics that you use to promote your brand.
- Your business strategy and your brand strategy need to be aligned. They’re both essential when you need to make a plan for how to get from where you are, to where you want to be, with your business.
- Your brand identity should be informed by your brand strategy, to ensure it’s consistently communicating the essence of your brand, and resonating with the people you want to impact, whether visually, or through written and spoken words.
- Your brand designs should be informed by your brand identity and used throughout your marketing materials to help build brand recognition, brand awareness, and trust.
- Your marketing efforts should be aligned with your business strategy and your brand strategy — and should be contributing to your overall goal. You should use the brand identity and brand design to create a cohesive message that resonates with the target audience.
See: All of these elements work together in this glorious ecosystem, or symbiosis if you will, to create a strong brand that is recognised and valued by the people you want to impact.
Where can I help?
As for where I come in; my main areas of expertise are brand strategy, brand identity and brand design.
My approach is driven by strategic thinking — that is then applied creatively through brand identity design. My 14+ years of experience as a business owner has taught me a thing or ten about business strategy and marketing too, which means I am great at seeing the bigger picture and can act as a bridge between your business foundations and your marketing actions — so for instance I love to work alongside business strategists, marketing teams, copywriters, web designers, brand photographers etc to ensure every piece of the puzzle contributes to an overall strong and impactful brand.
One thing I think it’s important to get across is that I’ll happily work with someone on strategy without the design — but I’ll never do design work without first having nailed the strategic foundations. Currently, I have three main ways to start working with me:
- My signature service is the full strategic brand identity design experience. This usually takes 8-12 weeks, depending on the scope of the project, and includes a strategic deep-dive to reveal your brand’s essence — before I then translate that essence into a compelling brand identity. If you want a brand identity that will outlive trends and fads, this is it. This is perfect for brands that are ready to put their big girl pants on: either you have a well-established business that needs a full-scale strategic rebrand — or you’re building a brand or a business from scratch, but you have the funding, the time, and the prior experience needed to go all-in from the start. Your investment starts at €5k, and if you need more than what’s included in the starter package, I’ll prepare a custom proposal to meet your needs.
- For those who are in that “murky middle” — outgrowing their diy logo, but not yet fully ready for a €5k investment — I offer a one-day service called Brand Boost. This isn’t a full brand from scratch, because crafting a strategic brand identity from scratch takes time — usually 6-8 weeks at least — and squeezing it all into one day simply isn’t going to get you a good end result. Brand Boost sessions are designed for those who already have some of their brand’s visual elements in place, but could do with some tweaks to make it more cohesive and aligned with their vision. So if you’ve still got to work with what you have, but dammit! — it’s frustrating af, and you keep changing things up in an attempt to make it better. You tally up the hours you’ve spent tinkering in Canva, and you can’t help but think that your time would be better spent doing what you do best. That’s where a Brand Boost can help. The investment for these one-day intensives is €1500 at the time of recording.
(I do offer interest free, extended payment plans for both of those options btw.)
- And the third option is for you if you want to just work on the strategic side of your brand; whether that looks like defining your strategic foundations before you even think about visuals, or getting ongoing support as you grow your brand. For these scenarios, I offer 1:1 Brand it! strategy sessions — that you can either book as a one-off, or as a bundle for ongoing support (and my best price!) These sessions are priced at €300 at the time of recording this episode.
So those are the three ways to become a client of mine. I do have some secret backdoor offers too, that are exclusively available for my existing clients: like ongoing design support, retainers, and unlimited brand strategy coaching on a yearly basis. IYKYK 😉
And if you need help with the stuff I don’t offer, like:
- Business strategy
- Marketing strategy
- Marketing execution
- Brand photography
- Web design
- Customer experience
…then I do have a rather extensive network of talented friends that I am more than happy to refer you on to!
So there you have it: a quick guide to branding vs. design vs. marketing — which of them I can help you with, and how!
Next step if you fancy working with me, or collaborating with me — or if you just want to connect — is to book a call.
Until next time,
Pssst! If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss the next one! I’d also be super grateful if you’d share my podcast with a biz friend or two, or leave me a review.