Crafting a brand vision can be a daunting task to say the least. Whether it’s a new brand entering the marketplace, or repositioning what has already been established, the brand vision is the strategic “must-have” before ideation or creation can begin as it will serve as a compass to guide business strategies, touchpoints and ultimately the overall connection with consumers. It can spark brand innovation and design ideas, energize the tone of voice, and set the focus for brand activation planning when entering the market. So, how do you establish a strong brand vision that will create an impact?
Start broadly. Take a step back to compare and contrast the entire category. Ask yourself a few questions about the environment in which your brand will live. What are adjacent brands doing? How are they communicating with consumers? What are they talking about? Define a set of distinctive properties for key brands in the category to break down each piece of their offering. In some categories, there are already established languages (both visual and verbal) that must be followed for consumers to understand your product. However, just because something historically has been done the same way does not mean it cannot be challenged and reimagined.
For example, EOS (or Evolution of Smooth) shook up the lip balm category and created disruption on shelf by simply introducing an egg-shaped product instead of the expected cylindrical form. The lip balm category had been stagnant for years when it came to form factor and innovation. Disruption that is easily distinguished by at least one of the five core senses in any category can be a great way to stand out in the crowd.
Who are you talking to? What makes them tick, what is their daily schedule, where do they shop, what do they listen to, what are some of their favorite brands, where do they live, etc. Once you understand the overall demographic, deep dive into what your optimal target audience is and hone in on their world, focusing on what your brand will do for them and how will it improve or enhance their lives. Understanding your target fully will not only strengthen the focus of your brand’s vision, but it will reveal the ownable, consumer-relevant space for your brand to live.
Pulling inspiration from unexpected industries and categories is a great way to spark ideas for ideation and product innovation. Remove your blinders and take note of what is resonating with consumers in the outer orbits of the consumer universe. Consumer trends and desires of people are changing constantly as their expectations of brands evolve by the minute. Learn from the success of others and make it your own by applying ideas that are proven yet unexpected in your brand’s category.
Now that you have loads of inspiration and a rich understanding of your category and its consumers—look for where there are gaps in their fulfillment, literally and metaphorically. Those gaps are the white spaces where consumers may be feeling underwhelmed, have unmet needs, or, maybe they don’t even know there is a “gap” that your brand can fill and it’s your opportunity to show them the “problem” and offer your unique solution. Not only should you ensure that your product is delivering something new and different, but carving out your own space will set up your brand for impact as soon as it hits the market.
One brand that comes to mind when thinking of an impactful brand vision is Olly. Their two founders, Eric Ryan and Brand Harrington, saw an opportunity in the wellness aisle and built a brand that turned the category on its head. Let’s be honest, the vitamin and supplement section of any store is not necessarily fun to navigate, especially when you aren’t exactly sure what you are looking for. As it stood, the rest of the category was leading with ingredients or a scientific name which ultimately caused increased confusion and doubt for the consumer. Olly took a fresh approach and started leading with, and selling, the desired benefit. Instead of selling melatonin, Olly sells sleep. Instead of biotin, Olly sells beauty. And who wouldn’t want to buy a magic drug for beauty?!
The vitamin product comes in a fun, fruity and delicious gummy form, making health and wellness something to look forward to. No more dreaded horse pill swallowing, or holding your nose with a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down. The approachable and friendly Olly name, paired with its vibrant design system of bright colors, contemporary graphic elements and simple typographic treatments, really shook things up at shelf. The results of all of the thinking and planning done by Olly were incredible, breaking even its first year and nearing $80 million in 2017 alone.
Your brand vision is just the start to creating a brand that can have a lasting impression with consumers. This solid foundation for your brand, based on strategic insights, is crucial to be set up for success. At the end of the day, don’t try to be something that your brand is not. Immerse yourself in the category, the audience, the world at large, and carve out the space for YOU to play. Implement the vision in every aspect of your business with consistency and stay true to it. Live it, breathe it, love it. And maybe even tattoo it.