When it comes to branding, there’s an important piece of work that acts as our guiding light: the creative platform. Now, if you’re wondering what that is, you’re not alone. A creative platform is the basis from which we build all future creative, and it’s made up of a brand narrative and visual components. It’s when we see how copy and design will work together to tell your unique brand story.
But that’s not all. The creative platform is a key part in helping us develop the overarching idea for your company, as well as the look and feel. It inspires seasonal campaigns and applies to your brand’s communication pieces, from print to website design to digital ad banners (and that’s just to name a few). It’s no wonder then that the process of developing a creative platform is a big, exciting project and a personalized journey for every client. After all, no two authentic brands are the same.
So, where do we start? Well, the ultimate goal of the creative platform process is to bring clarity to your brand, as well as to expand your messaging and visual voice. To do this, we must begin with the pillars that prop up everything else.
The Brand Pillars
To develop a successful creative platform, we first need insights into your brand pillars. What are those? They’re the attributes that represent your company’s core values, promise, culture, vision, and mission. I think of the brand pillars as the DNA of the company. Some clients come to us with a clear understanding of those attributes, while others have an inkling of what they might be. If our client is having difficulty defining their brand pillars, we go through a brand story process. Either way, the result is the same: a list of attributes that form the basis for our creative platform and all future work.
Next, we create a compelling narrative that communicates the brand pillars through message, tone and voice. It’s a challenging piece of the puzzle because it must be succinct while also illustrating your company’s value proposition, the reasons to believe in your product or services, and what the brand stands for. We also try to communicate a sense of aspiration, elevating and celebrating the brand’s ultimate goals. If that sounds like a lot to communicate in one statement, you’re right! That’s why it’s so important that we know the foundation of the brand when we begin. We use those building blocks to create a brand statement that is inspiring, effective, and works together with the mood board.
From there, we bring the brand to visual life through a mood board. I like to begin with a conceptual idea. Then I curate a mix of photography, texture, color, pattern, people, places, original graphics, and messaging that best represent the overarching direction. Because this is an internal process, inspiration can come from anywhere (and usually does!) I treat a visual compilation as a playground to explore how elements interact with one another, and to test design relationships of various graphic elements. Piece by piece, swipe by swipe, the elements of the brand design come together.
The Finished Product
Thanks to the creative platform process, your brand has gone through a transformation. It has shifted from ideas to something that sounds and looks distinct. You can picture the website and hear how it will be talked about. And, for us, it’s now easy for our team to be on the same page and to understand the tone, look and feel. This allows us to create efficiently and effectively going forward—without ever losing that spark of creativity.