Brand Charter: the Lego Blocks of Branding

Over the past couple years,  I’ve noticed more and more clients being very precise in asking for a narrow scope of work from me as a Marketing Consultant.  Perhaps it’s the economy that limits their requests for more comprehensive marketing, or perhaps companies find it easier to ask for tangibles that are missing from their Business Plan, like a Marketing Plan or a Competitive Review.

In many cases, companies assume since they’ve spent lots of time and money on developing a great product, that using a formulaic approach to marketing is all that needs to be done to launch a brand and have it be successful.  For marketing to work, however, the essentials have to be in place before the documents can be written or executed.

For many clients, I take them back to the beginning…the very beginning. I usually call this the Brand Charter.  This isn’t a Mission Statement, or a Brand Manifesto (which is usually an edgy version of a Mission Statement).  A Mission Statement serves a great purpose to rally the team and make sure everyone in the company is marching in the same direction.

A Brand Charter, instead of being company-centric, looks at the brand from the consumer/customer’s point-of-view.  It shifts the focus from “we do this” and “we do that” to “you need this brand because…”

The Brand Charter defines the target audience, identifies the target customer’s problem, explains why the brand’s solution is exactly what the customer needs, states the positioning of the brand in relation to competitors and fleshes out the brand’s personality.  Note that all these element focus on how the brand appears to the customer–not the company.

Marketers have different terms for each of these components like Brand Charter=Brand Statement; Positioning=Unique Value Proposition and Brand Personality=Tone & Manner.  Whatever terms you choose to call these elements, they’re are like building blocks, not a finished statement that gets hung on the wall or inserted into the plan for investors, then forgotten.

Elements of the Brand Charter are used over and over again to create consistent communication.  They’re like a set of Lego® blocks. The brand team decides what pieces and what colors go into the customized Lego set, then for every project, the team uses those same blocks in different configurations.

The Brand Charter forms the architecture of the brand.  The customer, as well as the brand team, will always know what this brand stands for, because the brand messages are clear, focused and consistent, even if the creative or the media channels change.

Do you have your own version of a Brand Charter or is your brand architecture based on the whim of a few or the marketing fashion du jour?









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