What Does a Brand Consultant Do?
Too many folks are out there calling themselves brand consultants. In reality, what they provide is image consulting. Drives me nuts. People are investing serious dough into their businesses. They’re doing it on the expectation that “being branded” is going to pay off. Sure, looking and sounding a little more professional and contemporary does pose some advantage, but this is marketing we’re talking about. We’re not off to the red carpet; we’re off to create customers. And that means not just looking and sounding great but looking and sounding right.
Portfolio sample from Los Angeles branding consultant Scott Silverman showing how style meets substance.
The role of your brand consultant is to better connect you to your target audiences. Period.
Do perceptions matter? Absolutely! Real brand consulting is perception management of the highest order. But the truth of the matter is, you are already branded, by default. When you wish to bring more intention to your brand, the more you need to know about the overlap between you and your customer base. If that core business success imperative were easy, every business would have more customers lined up, salivating. But this is not the world you and I live in. Branding is far from easy. Anybody who tells you differently is doing it wrong. (For more on the difference between building a house of cards and building your brand on a solid foundation: Los Angeles branding consultant.)
So, what’s the difference between those who invest in quick-fix brand makeovers and those who invest in genuine, problem-solving branding & design? It’s the difference between renting and buying. How long are you planning to stay?
If I were hiring a brand consultant, here’s what I would ask:
- How would you define the difference between brand consulting and brand strategy?
- What is your process for understanding the business — simplistic, superficial and tactical or deep, immersive, strategic and holistic? (Caveat: anybody can use these words. Does the personality match the promise?)
- For the creative choices you made with prior clients, can you please explain why you made them?
- What did you specifically choose NOT to do and why?
- What new insights and understandings did you bring to bear on the business?
- How did your brand consulting work tie in with the present-day realities of the business?
- What were the unique complexities in helping get your clients to more connective design, more powerful positioning and more meaningful messaging?
- Of the brand strategies he/she has helped conceive, are the platforms:
Robust enough to serve the business outside of marketing (operations, HR, etc.)
Actively leveraging known sales truths about the business
Aggressively positioning you for future opportunities
Anticipatory of competitor and marketplace shifts
- What is his/her experience with positioning lines? Those short, little phrases sit as the cherry on the brand sundae he/she has just helped construct. Together with name and logo, these should tell the Cliff’s Notes story of your promise to the world. Wordplay is okay sometimes, mostly because it’s memorable. But what was the “angle of attack?” A pun on the industry? Something a competitor could have just as easily claimed? Look for big, bold, emotional promises. Look for a distinct point of view. Look for a company tagline that render the business a one-of-a-kind force with which to be reckoned. That’s as sure a sign as any you’re talking to a brand brain and not a sloganeer. Here you can view some brand-building company taglines.
Los Angeles branding consultant Scott Silverman wrote this brochure for a Montreal radio station. He branded it as the go-to source for media buyers and advertisers in search of female spending power.
Brand consulting is not image consulting.
This is not art for art’s sake. It’s not about gussying you up… for gussying’s sake! Genuine brand consulting obviously includes aesthetics, but the work of actually attaching objectives to those aesthetics? That’s where you need to be paying keen attention to the business model, its drivers and to the defined opportunity. When people entrust their brands to me, I feel as if a torch, often a multi-generational torch, is being passed. There’s just too much riding on it. There’s simply too much to protect and too much value to the opportunities that can be discovered, to confuse brand work with cosmetics. Even in personal branding and celebrity branding, the point is to connect our clients with income streams, revenue opportunities and relationship opportunities. Of course, we want our brands to exude personality and style. But growing businesses and individuals serious about taking their careers to the next level need more than stylists. They need substance, professional brand consulting from people engineered to help them better engineer their brands. Horses before carts. Good rule!