Brand strategist and copywriter Samantha Dreyer discusses brand strategy and identity.

What’s brand identity?

Brand identity is a brand’s elevator pitch. It is the sum of a brand’s parts (mission, vision, core values, etc.) and should focus on the most salient, distinctive aspects.

How can a brand know that they need a new visual identity?

Visual identities are like clothes. Sometimes they go out of style, other times a brand outgrows them. There’s no hard or fast rule to determine when it’s time for an update; however, if business has slowed and your brand feels “dated,” it’s probably time for a facelift.

Does a brand have a life span?

We always aim for brands to be timeless. Yes — websites will need updates and copy will need tweaking, but, for the most part, if a brand has a solid vision, it will live on.

Can the brand competition influence a change on branding?

Certainly! Before branding, I conduct competitor audits to learn the competition’s “moves” and “plays.” If we know what our competition is doing, we can think through obstacles they pose and outsmart them.

What are the essential elements to bear in mind to have a super brand identity?

No matter how great and smooth your copy sounds, or how sleek your logo looks, if you don’t have a clear idea of who you are and what you are doing, no audience will look or listen. If a brand has a clear idea, tone of voice, and purpose, the rest will come together.

Could you give us an example of a brand with a weak identity and one with a strong brand identity?

Oooh, that’s a toughie. I think Dollar Shave Club has a very strong, clear identity. They’re distinctive and purposeful. I’d rather not pick a bad identity — I try not to gossip.

Do you provide your clients with a brand style guide, so that they can follow it on social media and other media?

Yes, of course! Once we’ve nailed down how a brand speaks and how it looks, we create a guide to inform our work and a client’s. It’s a framework and reference tool so the brand maintains a coherent identity across all mediums.

How do you define your brand design process?

It’s a bunch of moving parts coming together. We absorb a client’s tone of voice, key words, etc.—essentially their visions for their brand, which we then balance with insight from a competitor/industry audit to inform best practice.

What challenges do you face today in your agency/with your team?

To carry over from the previous question, sometimes the research doesn’t match or support a client’s ideas. We have to work to craft a compromise between what will actually succeed and what the client wants. It’s a delicate balance, but we always get there!

What has helped you succeed in your job?

Listening. It’s incredibly important to understand what a client wants and what their vision is for their brand.

Do you consider yourself a team player?

Yes—advertising is a very collaborative business. Ruckus is a great team of people so work is play.

Please list a few of your favorite digital brands:

ASOS — I really like their copy. It’s always fresh and clever.
The Last Line — Their copy is bold, fun, and accessible and their designs are amazing. Love their stuff!
Chewy — I’m a dog lover and owner. I shop from them all the time—over any other pet store.

What do you like doing in your free time?

Going to art museums, traveling, and spending time with my golden doodle, Luna.

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