One of the most crucial parts of the branding journey is knowing where you're going, and where you're coming from. Having a place to track your successes and failures gives your brand both purpose and direction for the future. Keeping a brand journal is kind of like having a Branding Playbook - it helps you strategize your next business ventures and compiles all the strategies you've tried, want to try, and the results of each play. Depending on the nature of your business, you may want to keep a more in depth record of your company, also known as a brand audit. Don't know where or how to begin? Don't worry - we've got you covered.
First, you'll want to include anything you've tried in the past, like different advertisement formats, posting times, and content type. Make sure to record the results of each permeation in detail, and how the outcome changed by manipulating each factor. While research can tell you what works best in general, keeping these records will help you determine what exactly works best for your brand in particular. Think about it - if everyone knows a general format works the best for an advertisement or product release, wouldn't it be better to have an approach tailored specifically to your brand? Knowing how things have performed for your company in the past will give your brand a competitive edge in fine tuning your performance in the future.
You'll also want to keep record of all brand campaigns, product releases and online content as far back as you can find. Ideally, you would have been compiling this together from the beginning or conceptualization of your brand, but don't fret - you can still make a journal if you're missing early information. Pick a sensible time like the beginning of the year or the end of your last financial year to begin accruing as much specific detail as you can on each business move you're making. While the results from the past may not be quantifiable, make sure to record as many numbers as possible. You'll want to know exactly what has worked in the past (and how well) in order to build for the future.
This section of the journal will include anything that is relevant or currently in action. This may include trends you're presently tracking, ongoing competitors and any external factors that are currently influencing your business. In this section, you'll want to take note of your budget and all available resources at your disposal that can alleviate your workload.
You'll also need to determine how long a topic is considered current before being moved to past pile. This could be a static increment like 2 months, or could be something fluid, like at the end of a promotion, product or campaign rotation. This is one of the most important sections, as it's crucial to record your current performance and results in as much detail as possible. Try to record statistics in detail, and use specific numbers over rounded numbers to avoid guesswork in the future. Remember to include desired projections at the beginning of each current rotation, so that the outcome at the end of the rotation can be examined against the original projections.
Here's where you'll keep track of your company goals, both short term and long term. You'll want to include potential ideals, desirable customers, services/resources or campaigns you tentatively want to try in the future. Keep your short and long term goals to specific timelines like annual, quarterly or bimonthly. This, again, will include a more extensive list of anything your company may want to try, things you've seen work for your competitors or anything you may not have the resources for just yet. This section could also include goals to achieve as a company, like opening a new location, breaking into a new market, establishing a partnership or expanding your offering in a sister brand.
While it seems trivial, having a brand calendar is the key to a coherent brand. A brand calendar keeps you on top of posting scheduled content, planning for upcoming events, and executing new rotations. A brand calendar is nothing to stress, over - just think of it as a general way to stay organized. As current materials moves to past, and future materials to current, ensure your company is continually transferring material into the appropriate classifications. Eventually, you'll want to decide how long you'll wait before archiving your journal and creating a new one. This could be a year or up to a three year period before creating a new journal. This breaks down the playbook into digestible chunks of information for anyone who needs to look back in the company archives for anything.
While many may not acknowledge it, there's excessive planning that goes into creating a successful and stable brand. Companies without a Brand Journal can survive, but will most likely experience burnout, misdirection or even have an existential crisis over the future of their brand. Test run a brand journal for a year, and tell us the differences you and your company have noticed!