Focus on setting up a Vision Centric Brand

Many companies and online marketers nowadays recognize the importance of Customer Experience. Tailoring the product or service to wishes and problems. While it's super important to consider, there's still a lot left on the table. The customer and / or user-centric approach has been around for a while as a tool for designers. That is why it has emerged as a buzzword in “Design Thinking”. But how can we transcend this thinking, for designers, marketers and business owners alike? Now the first step is not necessarily at the product level, but looking at the brand as a whole.

A vision centric brand is an ideal starting point for business operations, marketing, sales and making choices. The following is therefore actually a limited basis for brand strategy. The importance of connecting your product, the customer and transforming it into something tangible. Choices that tie in with improving your client's experience and go one step further.

There are basically 3 levels to take into account:

Product-centric:

The “low tier”; what does your product or service offer. Here you can think about features that combine into functions that translate into benefits. This is something especially technical startups love. The great thing about this model is that you can look further into higher level benefits. So that you see the functions of your product or service in a different light.

The pitfall, however, is tunnel vision, by only focusing on functions and functions. This is well illustrated in Nokia versus Apple, where Nokia actually lost ground because they kept pushing functions instead of focusing on the needs of the customer.

Customer-centric:


The “middle tier”; something that is often explored with personas. So looking at the needs and wishes of the customer, but also pain points, behavior and context. The holy grail of knowing how to derive value from the product-needs combination. The result, if worked out properly, is a well thought-out user experience on multiple levels.

This is on two levels, customer and user oriented. You could see the customer as the broader persona, to whom your brand focuses and with which you want to connect. And the user, who could be your customer, but also other people based on insights.

vision-centric:


The “high tier; where the combination of product belief and customer insights are converted into something tangible. A place where you can actually differentiate and build a brand. It is also called 'the why' of a company. Something bigger than the products they make or customers they serve. A simple way to explore this is to answer the following questions:

Vision:

A world where ...

Mission:

By helping people to ...

Now every company or brand will use at least one of these tiers in their business operations or marketing. And they can be used individually or together. You could describe the purpose in this as follows; "Building a lasting brand, by better understanding yourself and your customer." By actually helping your customers and being able to communicate this clearly by clarifying your values ​​and vision, you build relationships and your brand gets a personality.

How can this be applied?

Let's take Tesla as an example:

Product-centric: Our cars have functions such as automatic doors, autonomous driving and a self-cooling “dog mode”.

By using technology optimally for the convenience and peace of mind of the user.

Customer-centric: Tesla's customers are mainly early adopters and techies. Which are also concerned with the environment. An example of an insight that Tesla could have come up with is:

Driving green is important, maar electric cars are often boring.

vision-centric: A world where we are the most attractive car company of the 21st century, forerunners of the global transition to electric vehicles.

Mission: By helping people to to transition to sustainable energy.

Because Tesla knows who they are and who the customer is, they can focus on both functions and messaging that connect precisely. Among other things, this results in a unique customer experienceas well as one that is super consistent. From the social media posts to the actual driving in the car.

Why strategy together with design forms magic.

With more consumers (and companies) conducting online research than ever before, it has become essential for companies to recognize the importance of the online channel. The beauty of this is of course directing the target audience and making people fall in love with your brand. But what if you don't know your ideal customer? Or, possibly worse, you have a complete mismatch with your customer and your company as a brand?


It's a shame that too many companies are opting for quick profit and seeing an online advertising campaign that works, but not seeing how much more effective it could be with a well-developed brand. We are not only talking about ROI or ROAS, but also about intangible issues such as brand awareness, affinity and loyalty. Indispensable assets when it comes to the current time of hyper-competitive marketing and advertising. The problem is that strategy and creative are often regarded as two separate rather than complementary disciplines. In addition, design is of course often seen as something superfluous, something that only exists to make something beautiful. Now your company will not fall or stand with an exceptional design, but it will strongly strengthen an already established name and make room for opportunities.

The solution is a challenging but rewarding process that guarantees long-term profit for your company. Something that too many companies consider rudimentary. Build on the basis of your business; it's personality. For example, it takes 5 to 7 brand impressions before someone remembers your brand. But how do you know that the message you send to your target audience is the right one? Or even know that this is the right thing to do? Usually the entrepreneur is not aware, the online marketer thinks so and the designer just wants to make it beautiful. We call this the brand gap, the gap between strategy and design.

The quality of your brand will determine the quality of your customers. The quality of your customers determines the quality of your company.

The marriage between strategy and design.


It all comes down to knowing yourself, your vision and your ideal customer (strategy). Once this is clear, we can work on an emotional bond between your company and your customer (design). But let's take a few steps back and look at what a brand strategy and a digital strategy actually are.

Brand Strategy:

A brand strategy is a comprehensive plan that focuses on the long-term development of your brand goal, consistency and emotional impact. It not only shows how you distinguish yourself from your competition, but more importantly; the alignment of your brand with your ideal customer.

Digital Strategy:

Based on the brand strategy, it is therefore important that you have an ideal customer and your own unique personality. With the messaging and branding on par. The digital strategy focuses on all components that stimulate business growth in the form of leads and sales, but also strengthen brand recognition and awareness. Which are generated via online channels. This could include;

When the brand strategy and the digital strategy are known, we can start with magic. Creating the ideal digital experience, visual identity or other brand activation. Build something that really resonates with the people who share values ​​with you and your brand. All through a beautifully implemented strategy.

Strategy guides, creative connects.

How do we get there?

  1. Having clearly defined goals is the basis for a successful business.

    We usually sit down with customers and go through a number of these business goals, discover useful steps and organize them based on impact, urgency and practicability.

  2. If you don't understand the customer, everything else you do to build your brand has no positive impact on business goals.

    Every company has an ideal customer, whether you know it or not. In this phase you look at both psychographic and demographic characteristics as well as pain points and possible solutions that the client can help.

  3. It is the key to know yourself.

    Find the most important brand features of your company and dive deep to find clarity. Research into your corporate culture, unique voice, feeling and the impact you bring. In addition to why the company was founded, why you do what you do and what really drives your company; the brand purpose.

  4. Know your competition.

    An important part is knowing and understanding who competitors are in the market and indicating what you do differently and better. Here you can benchmark brands that inspire you. This way you find opportunities and you can do it differently from the competition, conquering a unique place in the market.

  5. Facts, functions / benefits and messaging.

    How can you stand out? You will have to decide for yourself what you do best and how this benefits your customers. From there you can figure out how to communicate these benefits with the segments in your target group. In this it is important to state that most unique selling points are often only gatekeepers, for real distinction will have to be addressed emotionally.

Once the brand strategy is clear and concise, you have a clear vision about where to go. Business goals are clarified and the steps to achieve them are laid down. Now that you know what the brand should look, feel and talk about, the next step is how to activate. Do you need a new website to show off your latest projects? Or a Facebook Advertising campaign for awareness?

This is where the magic happens

A good visual design communicates and makes emotional contact with the people you want to connect with. The logo is not your brand, this is just identification and the tip of the iceberg.

When strategy and design are in harmony, brands have consistent expression and articulation at every point of contact. Campaigns have a greater impact because they connect emotionally and strategically. Identity projects, websites and digital projects connect better rationally and emotionally. When strategy and design are both emotionally linked, great and profitable brands are created.

The shift to the new brand model

Conventional lore says that building a strong brand only involves a cool brand name, witty slogan, and advertising to potential buyers. This enforcement, clarity and consistency in all customer interactions. “Do you stand out visually? Do you have a brand identity that tells a consistent, coherent story without saying a word? ”

But is this actually accurate? Building a brand will always reflect the product or service itself, rather than the one building the product. How does the brand communicate visually through platforms? Digital, print, but also personal. Of course, even the best visual identity or design cannot save a failed product. But if the product or service is effective, a strong brand will certainly add value to you and your customers. And a good brand can make or break a business.

What will contribute to this experience being called a brand? It all starts with a strong concept, the basis of the entire spectrum of visual and verbal communication. If you deliver luxury clothing to the elderly, not only the design, but also the tone of voice will be completely different from other target groups, products, services or even the socio-cultural context of your brand.

The old versus new model of a brand

However, an incredible amount has changed since the digital age. Building a brand has become much more than just coming up with a strong concept and consistent implementation. The customer has come fully to the forefront, to the point that they actually exert influence on the product itself.

On the left is the old model of a brand. A model that worked great during the time of mass production and the industrial revolution. A company makes a brand to which it hangs products, markets it to customers, the brand attracts customers and customers keep the company alive through purchases. It couldn't be simpler.

On the right, the new model of a brand. It is almost the same, but with an important difference. Instead of starting to build the brand, we start with the customers. By building the product and attracting customers via, for example, social media, the brand is formed by both purchases and ambassadors. The customer-formed brand can then carry the company. And when this goes well, the circle will go round again, reinforcing the brand more and more.

This new model takes into account a deep truth when it comes to brands; Your brand is not what you say it is, but what your customers say it is. With this new model, you get the chance to grow your brand with followers who are actually behind you, supporters of your mission and fans of your personality.

In the old days, a company could find a hole in the market, fill it with a product, determine a price, and drive the product into people's lives with heavy advertising and distribution. The only choice customers had was to buy or not to buy. The real power lay with the company, whose leaders were seen as authority figures.

Marty Neumeier

What is Design Thinking and what can it contribute to your company?

You have probably heard of the term, whether it is used as a buzzword or as a sales talk. But what is design thinking really and how can it contribute to your company?

The power of Design Thinking

Design thinking has evolved slowly as a concept and has gained more traction over the past ten years. A popular definition is that design thinking is thinking, as a designer would. That's about as vague as a definition can be. A much better definition comes from Tim Brown of IDEO: “Design thinking is a discipline that uses the designer's sensitivity and methods to match people's needs with what is technically feasible and what can convert a viable business strategy into customer value and market opportunity. ” In short, this means that a person or organization is constantly looking for a fruitful balance between reliability and viability, between art and science, between analysis and intuition, and so on. Using the most crucial tool every designer uses; abductive reasoning.

“In abductive reasoning, we try to suppose a fact by using supporting facts. Example: Some people cannot see (fact). John constantly runs into objects (supporting fact). So John cannot see (abduction). ”

The Design Thinking process

Simplified, the design thinking process is user-oriented, using an arsenal of tools and methods to solve a problem. Design Thinking is based on logic, imagination, intuition and systemic reasoning to explore the possibilities of what could be and create desired results that benefit the end user (the customer). The mindset of the designer is not problem-oriented, it is solution-oriented and action-oriented. It includes both analysis and imagination. A typical process for design thinking is as follows;

The Design Thinking Process.

Discover (diverge): Work to fully understand the experience of the user for whom you developed a product or service. Do this by observing, interacting and fully empathising with your user. Of course, actual conversations with the user or people such as the user are of particular importance in this regard.

Purpose: To gain insights (Gold Nuggets)

Define (converge) : Process the findings to form a user point of view and boundary conditions, which forms a basis for the solution.

Goal: recognize and find opportunities (Insights)

Conceived (diverge): Explore a wide range of solutions by generating the widest number of diverse ideas. This way you go a step further than the obvious and the concept takes shape.

Goal: Idea formation (Winning Idea)

Deliver (converging): Working out and testing the best ideas so that they can be experienced. At the same time you get a good idea of ​​how the user will deal with it and whether it is effective.

Goal: Testing your product or service (Viable Product)

The trick is to repeat the process, in order to constantly improve your product or service based on user feedback. The same process is illustrated in the way we work, whether it is the further development of a concept or idea, or the building of a new website. Design thinking helps with the development of a product or service that has a chance of success or the achievement of goals. From focusing on the problem or challenge, recognizing opportunities, to developing an actual solution.

Design as a method

Although becoming a good designer takes years, non-designers can learn to think like a designer and apply these skills to leadership and innovation. If you have a problem that design and technology can solve, don't hesitate to apply design thinking in your scale-up or start-up.

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it's this veneer - that the designers are handed this box and told, "Make it look good!" That's not what we think design is. It is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works. "

Steve Jobs