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How to Write a Successful Brand Brief (With Examples)

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by Katie Oberthaler

2 February 2021

If you've been through a branding process before and found inconsistencies between your expectations vs actual results, then you already know how important it is to write a brand brief that effectively communicates exactly what your business is about.

Like most people, you might have found yourself with one of two outcomes:

  1. Assumed that people know everything about your brand and a brief is just a formality. So you wrote down the minimum possible information required. 

Or…

  1. Assumed that people know absolutely nothing about your brand. And so provide the maximum possible information required and unintentionally hide all the important stuff deep in those extra pages.

You are not alone. A lot of businesses struggle with this too.

That's why in this article, we'll show you exactly how to write a brand brief that gets the results you want without taking too much of your time.

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What is a Brand Brief?

A brand brief is a comprehensive overview of exactly what your brand is, and isn't

It outlines the objectives, goals, values, and vision of your brand, allowing you to communicate the direction, purpose, and positioning of your business as clearly as possible.

A strong brand brief should include:

1. Vision Statement

The long and short term objectives for your brand.

2. Mission Statement

An overview of how you intend to achieve your vision.

3. Brand Promise

The solutions, and expectations you communicate to customers and prospects.

4. Brand Values

The core value you base your brand around. Integrity, quality, and eco-friendliness are just some examples.

5. Target Audience

Who you want to serve.

6. Brand-Positioning/USP

The reason why customers should choose your brand over others. 

7. Key competitors

The brands most likely to win over your customers. Even if they aren't direct competitors.

8. Competitive Advantage

Conditions or circumstances that allow your brand to offer better or cheaper solutions.

9. Brand Voice

Your brand's style of communication. The words, lingo, vibe (fun, personable, humourous...)

10. Brand Culture

The principles, code of conduct, and work ethics in the internal environment.

And this is by no means an all-inclusive list.

We'll get into exactly how to write a branding brief in a bit, but first, what’s the difference between a brand brief and a creative brief?

Brand Brief vs. Creative Brief: What’s the Difference?

Many people tend to confuse creative briefs with brand briefs and that's understandable. They are both used to clearly communicate ideas after all.

But in order to successfully create an effective branding brief, it's essential to understand the difference.

While the brand brief is an in-depth overview of exactly what your entire brand is about, where it's headed, and what it could become, the creative brief is an overview of a brand-specific project. Its mission, goals, objectives, and how you intend to achieve all those things.

When it comes to use cases, the main purpose of the brand brief is to communicate what brand perception you want people to feel for your brand, whereas the creative brief is mainly used to keep a freelancer, agency, or department in-line with the brand goals when engaging a service.

What this means is that the brand brief is the foundational reference for creating any other strategic brief you’ll need in order to grow your business.

 

Why Should You Write a Brand Brief?

You should write a brand brief so that there's no confusion whatsoever as to what you want your brand to depict (and become), vs what is actually communicated.

  • Where you want it to go
  • The strategy you want to employ to get there
  • The values you want to communicate...

So that everyone is on the same page about your brand.

The point is to bring as much clarity as possible to the ideas you have about your business, mission, vision, values, and strategy so that it's easier to implement procedures effectively.

Some of the advantages of writing your branding brief include:

  • Clarify and refine your own ideas
  • Communicate clearly to your branding agency
  • Get cost estimates for branding services
  • Guide employees and crucial decisions
  • Provide direction
  • Promote consistency

If you don't write a branding brief you give away control over your brand story, so that others tell your story for you in the direction that they want.

So if you are just starting out with your business, or if your former branding doesn't depict your brand accurately anymore, you should write a brief to take charge of your brand story.

Who is in Charge of Writing the Brand Brief?

Naturally, the brand manager, or the marketing manager –where the brand manager is absent– should be in charge of writing the brand brief. But for the best results and effectiveness, creating the brief should be a collective effort.

The founder and other key members of management should actively participate in the process of writing a branding brief because they best know what the vision behind the brand is. So they should definitely provide information on the vision, mission, goals, core values, and guidelines they'd expect to serve as a foundation for all branding efforts.

The brief will also come out better when people from other departments get to contribute feedback too. Never underestimate the value of getting lots of different opinions, even customers can provide key insights. 

And don’t forget to involve your branding agency or a brand strategist too!

But no matter what title, what is most important is that the person in charge of writing the brand brief is someone who has strong communication skills, is hands-on, and analytical.

They should also have a strong sense of brand awareness and design, and a strong focus on getting results.

How to Write a Successful Brand Brief (10 Key Components)

Now that you know why you should create a brand brief and who should be in charge of creating it, let’s get into the actual writing process.

Step #1 Define Your Brand Idea

Before you even get started with writing your brand brief, you should clarify what the idea behind your business is.

  • What is your product, idea, offering?
  • Why did you create it?
  • What problem does it solve?
  • Who does it solve this problem for?
  • What makes your solution unique?

Your merged answers to this question should be a quick yet accurate response to the question “what do you do?”

“We are BRAND NAME, and we create/offer BRAND OFFERING for BRAND AUDIENCE who want to BRAND SOLUTION and BRAND USP or COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE” it’s almost like an elevator pitch!

Step #2 Specify Your Target Market

A good branding brief will always specify the main persona your brand should focus marketing efforts on.

Ask questions like:

  • Who are we selling to?
  • What problems do they have?
  • What unique attributes separate our customers from other people?

If you don’t have a target audience already here are ideas to help you define yours.

  • Look at your current customers. Are there common characteristics or interests evident between the people who buy most from you? That’s a good place to start with targeting.
  • Look at your product/service. Dig deeper into who would benefit most from your entire solution, as well as each of your product features.
  • Choose who you want. When the idea for your solution came to you, who did you have in mind? What age group, gender, income level, marital status, occupation do they fall under? Ask all these crucial questions.

Just be sure to keep in mind that any target demographic you choose should have enough people who can afford to buy your offering at the rate and frequency needed to sustain your business.

Step #3 State Your Brand Promise

Now that you’ve nailed your target audience, it’s time to get clear on what they can expect from using your brand.

Sounds easy but many fall into the trap of simply stating any boring old message without too much thought behind it. That’s a misused opportunity!

To create a brand promise that will help boost your brand, start by listing all the reasons why customers choose you, and the reasons why they count on you to deliver.

Which of those reasons make the most sense to you? Which ones can you stake your brand name on? Those are the attributes you should be building your brand promise around.

For example, here at Ziflow, our customers choose us because we provide a faster way for teams to collaborate, get review and approvals for their work. 

So, part of our brand promise is to help marketing teams review and approve creative content faster, more accurately, and in the process, ensure compliance.

M&Ms –the chocolate brand– has a “no chocolate mess” brand promise.

A great brand promise is simple, unique, and memorable. Double points if it’s credible and inspiring too.

Step #4 Define Your Vision and Mission

A mission is the who, what, and why of your brand while the vision is the impact your brand hopes to make in the world with its offerings.

It’s important to define these two things in order to keep the balance between what is, and what you hope can be. The here and now, vs the future.

For example LinkedIn’s vision is to “create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce” and their mission is to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”

 

Step #5 Brainstorm Your Value Proposition/USP

This is the ultimate “why choose me” for your brand.

Sometimes, the value proposition can sound like the brand promise, but it’s not the same thing.

While the brand promise is the idea of what your customers should expect from your brand, the value proposition is the reason they should favor your brand over your competitors.

To pinpoint your value proposition, ask questions like:

  • What ways are my products different from the competition?
  • Does my product use less resources to achieve the results?
  • What features does it have?
  • What emotional drivers of purchasing does it cater to?
  • What hidden needs does it fulfill?
  • What rational drivers of purchasing does it cater to?

These questions should help you find your USP.

Step #6 Recognize Your Competition

Many savvy businesses already know that keeping tabs on the competition is a great way to stay in business.

If you know who’s most likely to put you out of business, you are more likely to know what new developments you need to adopt in order to adjust, or even beat them.

It’s good practice to write a brief overview of your top 3 competitors at least in your brand brief.

Step #7 Outline Your Competitive Advantages

Here’s another reason why it’s smart to watch your competition. When you know your competition, it gets easier to determine those things you are doing that cannot be easily replicated.

  • Do you have access to resources that allow you to sell at lower rates?
  • Are you positioned at a better location?
  • Do you have the best talents working in the industry?
  • Maybe more data, or a network economy that encourages word of mouth growth?

If you are having trouble pinpointing your competitive advantages, take the time to compare your products to your competitors and ask your customers why they choose your brand over your competitors’.

Step #8 State Your Brand Values

Your brand values help frame your brand story in a way that humanizes your brand. And a “human” brand is a brand that inspires loyalty.

  • What beliefs does your brand stand for?

Defining and establishing good brand values helps you:

  • Stay true to your mission and vision
  • Boost employee performance
  • Create a memorable brand
  • Connect better with your audience
  • Inspire brand loyalty

Some good ways to gain insight into what your brand values may be is to ask employees and customers.

Questions like “What does our company value most?” and  “What do we stand for?” are good places to start.

Step #9 Lay Down Your Brand Culture

The brand culture is what your company looks like from the inside out. If core values are the heart of a company, then the culture is the soul.

Here’s an inside look at the brand culture here at Ziflow:

 

Establishing a great brand culture ensures that you:

  • Attract like-minded employees, and dream customers
  • Foster passion and motivation among employees
  • Convert employees into passionate brand ambassadors
  • Create a brand that’s authentic

Step #10 Define Your Brand Voice/Image

Most people will already have the visual personality of the brand covered but the brand voice is just as important.

 

The brand voice is the unique attitude and personality of your brand. It’s what makes your brand memorable, and creates a sense of consistency and harmony across your marketing channels.

 

How do you pass across your message? Are you the fun but authoritative brand? The brand that uses sarcastic humor? Or the premium and exclusive brand?

Brand Brief Template

To make it easier, here’s a barebones brand brief template you can follow to get started.

 

Start with the company profile, vision statement, and mission statement.

Then document the brand promise, brand values, and value-positioning.

Next you want to put down the brand voice and personality. The stakeholders, target market, key competitors, competitive advantage, and brand culture.

You can always expand it from here to include everything that makes your branding brief both comprehensive and accurately represent you, just like the companies we’ll see in the examples below do..

Brand Brief Examples You Can Use For Inspiration

Here are some of our favorite brand brief examples to draw inspiration from.

Example #1 Virgin’s Brand Brief

 

Virgin’s brand brief starts with a company profile that describes what the group is, when it was founded and by whom, and its main market activities.

Next there’s an overview of the current numbers and a summary of the growth history. They also  state the brand values that drive the company and other data and information that define their brand.

Example #2 BMW’s Brand Brief

 

This brand brief is simple yet passes across all the useful information.

They state the goals, research and insights behind the brand, the target audience, creative work, brand story and media plan.

Example #3 Nike’s Brand Brief

 

Nike’s brief starts with the executive summary, and includes information on the target audience, product features and benefits.

They also touch on the current brand image, the desired brand image, their direct competitors, and their indirect competitors among other things.

Final Thoughts

It’s challenging to think that how your brand turns out depends on how well written your branding brief is. But the good news is, it’s not all that difficult to create a brand brief that well represents your brand..

Just follow the steps and examples we’ve shared in this article and it should turn out fine. But don’t forget to include others in the process too. Remember, the best branding briefs are a result of collective effort!

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