An inside look at the Strategy Manual my clients receive and why it's so life- (and business-) changing
I won’t expect you to take my word for it, so I’m going to leave some feedback from my clients at the bottom of this post, but this strategy manual is pretty much everything you didn’t realise your brand needed.
And, perhaps, that’s because you didn’t realise you needed strategy. Or it could be because you didn’t realise the importance of getting said strategy out of your head (and in front of the eyes of an excited and skilled professional — hi 👋 — to refine).
Either way, this shit changes the course of your business because it’s so key in helping you turn your passion into profit.
That’s no small claim - I totally get it. So let me walk you through how.
To explore how valuable this strategy manual is, I’ll be sharing from my project with Heting Artelier.
The Brand Strategy
By the end of our project, my clients and I have worked through 3 very important sections of their brand: discovery and refinement of their framework and foundation; a visual design that’s tailored to their audience; and a brand experience and marketing pieces that are relevant to their processes and clients/customers.
So that means we have a lot of goodness to fill up the Strategy Manual with - which is why it’s usually in excess of 60 pages! The first 20 or so pages are dedicated to outlining in detail your actual, wordy strategy, and the rest of the pages are dedicated to showcasing your brand assets and sharing everything you need to know about them.
Your What I Do statement is a meaningful mission statement. It gives you a concise paragraph that basically becomes your ‘elevator pitch’. What you do, who it’s for and the results it provides. It may seem small or, even worse, obvious, but taking the time to craft this beautiful selection of words means you can always answer that “so what do you do” question, and get to the heart of why your service or product is so amazing (and we both know it is!).
Jumping from there, we delve into Why It’s Important is your big and overarching why. It’s the reason you keep going, keep pushing forward when you’re having a shitty day, or week, and you fancy just burning everything to the ground. Having this written out, in front of you, and even using it in your affirmations is so key to staying the course and keeping your passion alive!
Next I outline your How I Do It Differently statement. This is what sets you apart in your industry and helps you find exactly the right audience.
These 3 sections really go hand in hand and keeping in mind what you do, why it’s important, and how you do it differently means you’ll pretty much always stay on brand.
Next I get detailed on your brand values and a reasoning statement for each one. This should share how your value is communicated or how it informs your decisions or processes within your business. Knowing your values is great, and certainly a wonderful place to start, but you really ought to know why that value is so, valuable!
The fun really starts on the next page, where we write up an insanely usable, and relevant, and informative, and just super exciting, profile on your people. This is however long it needs to be, to perfectly and clearly explain how your ideal client or customer is, what they know, what they don’t, what they struggle with, what their strengths are, why they need you, why they’re not ready to work with you or buy from you just yet. All. The. Detail. And you’ll love yourself for it, I promise, because these pages are so key in your brand design, and in reaching success in your business.
We also talk about their buzzwords — characteristics, values and lifestyle traits that they value and resonate with.
The next section is all about your brand voice: your personality attributes, communication goals, brand keywords and copywriting keywords.
Perhaps not as glamorous as the previous sections, but just as important! We talk about what your brand voice is, how it speaks, what language it uses, what tone it uses. Your personality attributes get to the bottom of what your brand is contrasted with what it isn’t. This will help you stay aligned to what feels true to you and what resonates with your people.
Then I also develop communication goals, to ensure you always know what you’re working towards in your marketing efforts. You’ll have guidelines explaining how you want your audience to feel, what you need to educate them on and make them aware of, and what you’re encouraging them to do! To accompany this, you’ll have a little bank of relevant copywriting keywords to draw from.
For all those many days when you’re drawing a blank writing those IG captions, this section really shines. And when writing website copy. And emails. Actually, I can’t think of any instance when these little (huge) nuggets aren’t worth their weight in gold!
This chapter is wrapped up with a brand goal, creative direction and moodboard.
The brand goal takes your strategy and explains in 2 sentences what we’re aiming to achieve with your visual branding - what we want your people to feel and what sort of experience we’re looking to create. This is heavy on the adjectives because branding, buying and quite frankly, running a business, are emotional things. And honouring those emotions is valuable and results in so much more connection with your people.
The moodboard is included alongside the reasoning or inspiration for each inclusion, and the initial creative direction for the visual branding. This gives an overview of what I imagine for the branding, how I envision we use the inspiration from the moodboard to create tangible designs that are aligned to what your people are looking for (and need!).
The Graphic Library
Everything from this page forward is what’s included in your graphic library. It’s every single element that was created for your brand, with your people in mind, and a couple of rules for using them.
The first to be showcased is every logo available in the suite. And I don’t put a cap on these because, honestly, this investment should last you for years to come and that means having a selection of logos for every foreseeable application and use. It will be as expansive as your goals need it to be each one comes with a usage suggestion so that you understand which logo to use in which instance.
And, for good measure, where to find it in the filing system and what the file is called.
I also include every single graphic element, brand symbol, illustration, pattern and texture you approve in the refinement process.
After that, I get super detailed on the typographic hierarchy you should follow when designing any DIY graphics. This means you’re able to set and follow the type styles we established in the design process so that you’re brand always looks on point and on brand! And the hierarchy means that you’re displaying information in a way that draws your reader through, from headings to paragraphs.
I always include a large selection of stock photos that share the mood and feeling that your photography should impart. This helps you when you’re adding to your stock library but really what I want to do is help you kickstart this collection by curating a selection that connects with your people.
This is rounded out with the marketing pieces we designed for your brand, to share how your brand is experienced by your people and also help you when you’re designing any more collateral for your marketing.
By having these profiles, in-depth explanations and statements to refer back to, at any stage in your business, you’re able to realign your marketing efforts, understand your people better and better and keep working towards the vision you have for your business and your life! It’s this beautiful mix of aspiration and information that will work to keep your brand consistent, cohesive and just plain amazing across every platform and in every use.
It’s your heart (and that of your business too) in words and graphics.
What my clients have said about their strategy manuals
[The value of the strategy manual] is massive. This will govern how we operate more and more over time.
Nick, Oasis Design
Such valuable manual. I still refer to mine many times. Your creativity and professionalism is ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Beatrice Mangar, Mademoiselle Nomad
Thanks so much for the work you did on my brand, with enthusiasm and clairvoyance, this strategy manual is very precious to me.
Maika Endo, Maika Endo
How to use your Strategy Manual
My goal with this manual is to help you be the custodian of your own brand, moving forward. With it, you should be able to manage and market your brand with an insane amount of confidence because you’re equipped with everything you need to do that and do it well!
If you’ve got this far and realised this manual is as amazing as I promised, (first, high five) you may be feeling just a little overwhelmed at how much is developed! So let me please put your mind at ease:
First, I don’t need you to know or be able to explain ANY of these things to me before we start working together. I’ll help you write and extract this information with calls and a thorough workbook. You write up your answers and I’ll write up your strategy! It’s a collaborative process that goes through refinements because you’re the expert at your business as I’m the expert at branding!
Second, you need to start somewhere. And the best place to do that is a free 30-minute Brand Basics call. During this call we’ll tackle your current strategy and you’ll walk away with a single action step you can start implementing immediately and create a brand experience that is more aligned to your people. It’s pretty fucking magical! Book yours here.