Ten Imperatives for Branding Success from Brand Atlas

This post features a closer look at Alina Wheeler and her new book The Brand Atlas, Alina will present  a keynote address on Wednesday morning at the rapidly approaching Private Brand Movement conference, September 19 – 21 in Chicago, Illinois.

Her address “Branding The Future One Touch Point At A Time” will focus on: Brands are the global currency of success. To be successful, brand builders need to stick to the basics, stay calm on the rollercoaster of relentless change and fierce competition, and seize every opportunity to be irreplaceable and be the brand of choice. Each touch point, whether it’s an in store experience, an app, a Groupon offer, a package, a tag or a tweet, has the potential to attract new customers, connect to the heart and mind, and build life long customer relationships.
Inspiration: What’s happening around the world? A speed of light tour of global touch points
Contemplation: Who are you? Who needs to know? Why should they care? How will they find out? A reminder of the basics
Celebration: How do you achieve radical differentiation? Demonstrate rather than declare

My Private Brand readers can register with the code MYPBRAND and receive 20% off the standard rates.

Wheeler believes that a company’s brand is its most valuable asset.  She takes the most seminal tools used by a wide variety of thought leaders and practitioners and makes the information understandable, visible, relevant, exportable and applicable. With her best-selling debut book, Designing Brand Identity, now in its third edition, Alina Wheeler reinvented the marketing textbook using a straightforward style to help demystify the branding process. This book from Wheeler, Brand Atlas, builds on this user-friendly approach to aggregate and simplify the science behind branding with a unique visual teaching method suited for time-crunched professionals.

Brand Atlas follows the recent YouTube-iPhone-Pecha Kucha era trend toward fast-paced visual instruction by neglecting needless jargon and combining vivid, full-color images and easy-to-follow diagrams to break down branding principles into basic step-by-step concepts that can be immediately applied. This handy reference:

  • Speaks to a broad range of stakeholders in the branding process—from CEOs to designers to brand managers
  • Provides tools to integrate brand throughout the entire customer experience, build relationships based on brand, measure a brand’s value, and define a brand strategy
  • Contains essential information illustrated through the use of diagrams

With diagrams designed by Joel Katz, an internationally known information designer and a global authority on the visualization of complex information, Brand Atlas is a compact, no-nonsense guide that shows how tactical innovation in the design process is crucial to building brand assets.

Ten Imperatives for Branding Success from Brand Atlas
Branding is big business. For most businesses, brands represent their most valuable asset, influencing customers, prospects, investors, and employees. Companies often go through a complex internal process to identify the best branding firms to partner with -choosing from an array of global brand consultancies, design offices, or specialists in areas such as packaging, user experience, and social media.

  1. Why do some brand initiatives just fizzle after an initial investment of capital and resources? Whether you are a consumer brand, a nonprofit, or a mid-size service business, the following imperatives ensure positive outcomes for your brand.
    Ensure that the leadership team endorses the brand initiative and understands the process. There must be a strong mandate from the top. If the commitment to revitalize the brand is tepid, the initiative will expire, and the investment will have no return.
  2. Establish clear goals and an endpoint. Why are we doing this? What are the deliverables? How will things be different at the end of the process? For example: we will have new branding guidelines to make it easier to communicate clearly and consistently about our brand to our customers and to our employees.
  3. Establish clear responsibilities. Acknowledge that your investment will require company time, not just writing checks to the consultants. It’s a collaborative process, and will require leadership’s focus. Identify an internal person whose job it is to be the direct contact for the branding firm. They have to be a “make it happen” person with superior organizational skills, and access to the key decision makers.
  4. Use a disciplined process with clear decision points and benchmarks. Agree on what the brand stands for before any creative work is done. Use a tool like the brand brief to ensure that key decision makers agree on your brand’s essence, its competitive advantage, your target market, and your value proposition.
  5. Stay customer centric. The best brand decisions can only be made with the customer’s needs and experiences in mind. See the world through the eyes of your customers.
  6. Commit to a small decision group that has the power to make the pivotal decisions that impact the brand. Do not bring in new decision-makers in the middle of the process. All decision makers must be involved and be present at all key decision points.
  7. Determine if your company is truly ready to make a commitment to revitalizing your brand and implementing new brand standards. Is your company ready to invest the time, the capital and brainpower to revitalize your brand?
  8. Determine how you will measure the success of this initiative. Consider benefits like employee engagement and a more effective and efficient marketing toolbox. Communicate that the brand is the most valuable resource and it’s everyone’s job to protect and grow that asset.
  9. Use the process to build brand champions throughout your company. Launch internally first, then externally to customers. Make sure that all of your vendors have access to the new standards. Be diligent about communicating why you made these changes and what they mean. Smart organizations use the branding process to refocus stakeholders on their vision, values and mission.
  10. Demonstrate—don’t declare—why customers should choose you over others. Seize every opportunity to communicate your value and to differentiate your brand from others. Use the process to identify the places where your can build trust, attract new customers, and inspire customer loyalty.

The process demands a combination of investigation, strategic thinking, creativity, design excellence, and project management skills. When done right, the process can achieve remarkable results for your brand.

My Private Brand readers can register with the code MYPBRAND and receive 20% off the standard rates.


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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.