Branding - Strategic Branding

Branding - Strategic Branding

The Strategic Branding Division of Wolf Management Consultants is directed by James Lienhart, an experienced strategic branding consultant to Fortune 500 companies as well as mid-sized firms and entrepreneurs.

  • SBD°S capabilities include:
  • corporate branding
  • identity programs
  • naming
  • print communications
  • package design
  • magazine design
  • web site design
  • standards manuals
  • monitoring


Development of a strong branding program is essential to the survival and growth of American companies. With the stress and unique challenges that drain business optimism today, one outlook is promising: In every period of American history, recessions have provided the springboard for the next great round of economic growth. A strong branding program will encourage and support a company°s growth as well as its ultimate success in the face of industry competition.

The initiation and implementation of SBD°s branding program process is set forth in detail in the document below entitled Building Strong Identities and Branding Solutions: The Process. First, the Five-Point Mission Strategy positions the program:


  1. The process begins with the development of a focused strategy for the purpose of providing seamless communications across all key media formats from print and digital to broadcast.
  2. The power of a brand to influence behavior is the primary objective.
  3. Building a strong brand involves the development of a trusted emotional bond with the audience.
  4. The brand makes an impression based on a series of interrelated attributes, which include: core values, personality, visual and verbal language, color palette, typography, name, shape and texture.
  5. Branding defines and establishes the appropriate personality for an organization, product, service, environment, or initiative, and manages the ways in which that expression is communicated.



Pre-program Set-up

Contents: Program Phases

  1. Orientation, Information Collection and Research
  2. Analysis, Planning and Criteria Development
  3. Design and Validation of Identification Elements
  4. Communication of the Program
  5. Print Communications Implementation
  6. Program Control Guide
  7. Monitoring and Evaluation


Pre-program set up

Prior to the start of the program, an identification program coordinator would be named by (client) to act as the liaison between (client) and SBD. This person should possess broad, general knowledge of the organization, its history and future direction, and should have enough authority within the organization to get timely responses to the requests of senior and middle management. The coordinator would be the day-to-day liaison responsible for gathering and disseminating information, scheduling meetings and presentations, and ultimately for communicating and implementing the program.

SBD and (client) would furnish each other with a listing of persons who will be involved in the program in both its approval and execution, together with descriptions of each person's responsibilities. A listing of executives responsible for decision making and an outline of the decision-making process would also be developed

Program phases:

  1. Orientation, Information Collection and Research
  2. Analysis, Planning and Criteria Development
  3. Design and Validation of Identification Elements
  4. Communication of the Program
  5. Print Communications Implementation
  6. Program Control Guide
  7. Monitoring and Evaluation


Project 1:

Orientation, information collection and research


To become familiar with the ways in which (client) currently presents itself visually.

To identify current perceptions of (client) and potential opportunities for positioning and visual identity based upon:

  • leveraging existing strengths
  • identifying other important dimensions which may not be immediately apparent, but could become part of the basis for positioning the organization.

1.1 Audit of Current Identification and Communications.

A range of print materials and other communications will be gathered by (client). These may be either existing materials or items used by other organizations that will eventually be needed by (client). These materials will be used for review and reference and should include:

All stationery items
External and internal business forms
Promotional materials
Periodicals and journals
Binders, folders and corresponding inserts
Audio/visual materials
Awards and certificates
Exterior and interior signing
Pins, emblems and patches

1.2 Collection of Orientation Materials. Information pertaining to the following subjects will also be gathered:


Current organizational structure
Mission and objectives
Profile, character and culture
Outside articles and publications focusing on or relating to (client)

1.3 Competition Research.

Direct and indirect competition will be identified. Information relating to the profile and visual identity of these organizations will be collected by (client) and SBD.

1.4 Internal Interviews.

Personal interviews will be conducted with managing partners and heads of practice areas whose input would be deemed vital to this phase. These interviews will be held to determine or validate the organization's direction, strategy, goals, strengths. weaknesses, competition and expectations for a new program. While we understand that (client) has various practice areas, we are currently anticipating a total of approximately 7-10 personal interviews.

1.5 Client Interviews. Up to 4 clients would be interviewed using questions similar to the internal interview set. These interviews would be used for comparative purposes and "reality checking."


Project 2:

Analysis, planning and criteria development


To establish and formalize a basis for guiding and evaluating all future steps of the program.

To find and express the unique, marketable qualities of (client).

To make recommendations for organizing and identifying future communications.

Develop a philosophy for determining appropriate environments in which the names of the parent organization and its subsidiaries and operating units should appear. We will review the gathered physical materials, summarize and review the interviews, and prepare a document that contains the following:

2.1 Program Objectives.
Based on information gathered in Project 1, objectives, goals, constraints and success criteria for the identification program will be developed, discussed and formalized.

2.2 Brand Positioning.
From the interviews and other orientation materials, we will construct a statement that defines the unique brand positioning of (client).

2.3 System (Mechanical) Criteria.
Functional criteria will be developed against which identification options can be evaluated.

2.4 Aesthetic Criteria.
Criteria will be developed for use in developing and evaluating the visual identification elements of the program.

2.5 Analysis of Print and Web Communications.
All gathered communications will be analyzed with regard to:

Identity and nomenclature
Information hierarchy
Overall effectiveness
How they relate to the desired overall plan both strategically and mechanically.

2.6 Definition of Areas of Application.
A comprehensive list of items that will be affected by the naming/identification program will be developed. This list will be used both for test applications and for determining the primary topics for the identification guide.


Project 3:

Design and validation of identification elements

Objectives: To create visual elements appropriate to the desired profile of the organization.

To ensure that the new identification elements are harmonious and satisfy all visual and verbal communication requirements.

To ensure that the graphic system will work for all areas of communication (i.e. business papers, promotion, signing) prior to implementation.

3.1 Design and Formatting.
Using the criteria from Project 2, the styling of the basic identification elements will be explored, developed, evaluated, modified and refined. This is a simultaneous process that considers the inter-relationship of each visual element to the others, while also considering their fulfillment of the aesthetic and mechanical criteria. Each feasible approach will be applied to a limited range of items for evaluation and recommendation.

3.2 Preliminary Presentations.
A limited number of solutions together with our recommendations will be presented for comments and direction.

3.3 Refinement.
The selected direction(s) will be refined and applied to a limited number of communications (6-8) for presentation.

3.4 Validation.
Agreed upon adjustments will be incorporated into the selected direction. This solution to be refined and then applied to a broader range of materials for final validation. These represent all categories of identification and will be executed in full color. It is expected that the number of individual applications needed for this demonstration will be between 15 and 20. They include:

Web Site (home/function pages)

Business Cards
Business Forms
Brochures and Collateral
Report Covers
Presentation Covers

3.5 Final Presentation. The selected solution and all of the validation-phase materials will be presented for final comments and approval.


Project 4:

Communication of the program

To ensure a smooth, accurate, informed and enthusiastic transition to the new identity

4.1 Implementation Document Preparation. An implementation procedures document outlining transition procedures and an implementation timetable will be prepared.

4.2 Orientation Presentation(s). A brief slide or powerpoint presentation will be prepared to communicate the new identification program to internal staff and allied organizations.

The program will include:
Program objectives
Research and findings
The development process
Organizational/brand positioning identification elements
Basic rules regarding usage
Examples of general applications
Timetable and procedures for implementation

4.3 Preliminary Identification Standards. A document having between 4 and 8 pages will be prepared. This will illustrate the basic identification elements and will define their uses. Schematic examples of applications will also be included, together with word processing formats, for all stationery items.


Project 5:

Print communications and implementation

To produce materials that are urgently needed for the corporate start-up, which also will serve as prototypes and key communications.

To help ensure a timely and smooth identity implementation.

To establish standards of quality.

5.1 Identification of Key Items. Items whose implementation will best serve the organization and the new identification program will be identified. These items would meet the following criteria:

Immediate need
Ability to generate initial impact
Proliferation, high visibility and/or continuing impact
Ability to serve as a prototype for like or similar items
Usefulness as an example in the identification guide
Use as a permanent item

5.2 Design, Mechanical Artwork, Production Supervision. Key items will be implemented on a project basis with fees and expenses being determined at the outset of each project. Because many items will have been pre-designed in the validation phase of the program, they may require only the preparation of mechanical artwork to be implemented. Initial production and printing of all items will be supervised unless otherwise negotiated. Assistance to persons and organizations responsible for additional design and implementation will be provided.


Project 6:

Program Control Guide

To control future implementation of the identity program.

To broadly communicate the positioning of the organization and the philosophy of how to communicate the organization.

To provide design direction and to document the "visual spirit" of the program.

6.1 Control Guide Content Development. Based on the categories of communications needed by the organization, a table of contents will be prepared for review, discussion and confirmation,

6.2 Copywriting and Design Development. A complete manual will be developed in rough form with a complete draft manuscript. This rough presentation will be submitted, together with a finished "style" mock-up, for review and approval.

6.3 Final Design and Mechanical Artwork. A final design and mechanical artwork will be prepared, and copies will be submitted for review and comments. Adjustments will be made to the mechanicals where necessary, and lasers of the finished mechanicals will be submitted for final approval and for use as interim guidelines.

6.4 Production Supervision. Production of all components of the printed identification guide will be supervised to ensure the quality of the finished product and the, proper translation of the mechanical artwork.


Project 7:

Monitoring and evaluation

To establish methods and means for monitoring the implementation and effectiveness of the identity program.

7.1 Implementation Monitoring. Consultation and recommendations for establishing an internal monitoring system will be provided.


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