Brand Design / Strategic Approach Documentation

Brand Design / Strategic Approach



This document serves as public documentation and overview into the strategic planning and tasks ordered to build a scalable (connected) brand. I think it is important to acknowledge the process in order for us to begin designing brands meaningfully.

Brand Architecture

Our core brand design philosophy of ‘Connected Brands’ is founded on a brand idea that has a purpose at its core, defining brand’s position in culture and role in people’s lives.

  • The Brand Story / Connected Communications
    How is the brand is expressed in a way that creates scale and is defendable in culture?

  • The Brand Idea / Connected Purpose
    How does the brand create cultural tension that make it more relevant and valuable to real people?

  • The Brand System / Connected Ecosystem
    How are the brand’s products and services connected to amplify value in the ecosystem?

This framework should then lead to inspiring briefs to create products, services and communications.

Brand Foundations

Brand foundations provide the context for branding. The following aspects should be explored as the starting point for deciding whether to evolve or radically reposition – or creating new brand. Utilise and build on work done in a discovery phase.

  • Brand Roots: define the elements of the brand that have historically provided competitive advantage and differentiation. Decide which to keep based on how unique they are to the brand. Focusing on elements that demonstrate category leadership and product quality.

  • Key Trends: define the macro trends that are creating disruption in the category and changing customer behaviour. Prioritise the trends which are strategically, filtering those specific to tactical communications, product and service design.

  • Competitive Threats: define the things that competitors are doing that are threatening scale, value and equity. Focus on areas of commoditization for the brand.

  • Key Trends: define the macro trends that are creating disruption in the category and changing customer behaviour. Prioritise the trends which are strategically, filtering those specific to tactical communications, product and service design.

  • Product & Service Advantages: define what the brand does well in terms of their product and services. These advantages ensure the brand positioning amplifies areas of positive customer experience.

  • Opportunities for Growth: define what the brand needs to do to overcome competitive threats, emerging disruption and key weaknesses to create growth.

Brand Audience

Understanding the audience focuses brand development on a deep understanding the customers that will drive growth. Profiling and observing these audiences is the foundation for the pivot insights that ensure the brand is differentiated and has a defendable role in culture.

  • Audience Profiles: define profiles for each of the audiences that will drive growth or need to be defended from competitive threats. What are their needs from the category? What is attitudes and behaviours does the brand need to understand? What are their primary goals? What motivates them? What are the key barriers and pains they experience?

  • Pivotal Insight: The aim is to uncover pivotal insights that can be used to define a unique role for the brand in culture – and challenge category-normal thinking.

    • Through research and observation, strategists should define insights for each audience that gets to the root of their attitudes and behaviour. This is often a strongly held belief that describes the ‘why’ that sits behind their goals and motivations.

    • Cultural tensions provide a rich territory for defining pivotal insights; because opposing view points often have the greatest influence customer attitudes and behaviour.

Brand Purpose

Brand purpose is the most important aspect of branding. As a strategic approach, the input to defining a brand purpose are the Pivotal Insights. A 2X4 with strategy, tech and creative leads would be the first stage before a wider workshop. The aim is to define:

  • Brand Point-of-View: define a differentiated opinion or view based on the pivotal insight; this should ideally, a strong, clear statement on a cultural tension. This is what the brand thinks, Nike for example “Just Do It”

  • Brand Purpose: define the key role that the brand can play in our customer’s life, ideally helping them better achieve their goals in the category. This could be to change attitudes, behaviours or customer’s life experience. A brand purpose should be a simple, clear behaviour that defines what the brand does, for example “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

  • Brand Story and System: define how the brand purpose is expressed in relation to storytelling (what the brand says) and system design (what the brand does). In simple terms, these expressions provide the central direction for communications vs. product and service design – though will extend into other areas such as events. Nike again, “Creating tools to empower athletes”

      Running Category Example:
      Unique Running Product: Nike Flyknit / Running Tech Apparel
      Digital Product: Nike+ Running App
      Running Campaign: ...
      Events / Social: Nike+ Run Club
      Retail: Nike Running 

Brand Territories

Brand territories are important when redefining or creating a new brand. The aim is to define a space for the brand to execute its purpose.

In essence, brand territories are ‘strategic creativity’ that allow the team to explore different options for naming, visual design, tone of voice, experience design etc.
The output of this strategic step is a range of potential brand expressions, all founded on the same root purpose, that can be validated through customer testing.

  • Brand Elements: define 3-4 behaviours that will connect the brand purpose to audiences needs and goals. Ideally, expanding traditional single archetype into a 3D personality. Each brand element should have the key drivers for audience engagement and aligned tactical elements of the brand story and system.

  • Brand Territories: Using the brand elements define a range of brand territories. This is normally done by weighting each element with a higher focus or priority. This should provide 3-4 territories each with a focal brand element, using the other brand elements as support.

  • Value Proposition: For each brand territory, define a value proposition that clearly expresses the brand for the audience. This should combine the brand purpose with a set of clear needs and goals. The value proposition is the external expression of why the audience should want the brand and, its products and services.

Brand Design

… from this point, we write a brief to enable cross-functional teams can work to define:

 1. Brand Territory						
 2. Visual and Verbal Identity						
 3. A connected communications (storytelling) and experience (system) platform.

Customer Based Brand Equity Model

To be consistent to the examples above here is what the CBBE of Nike would output to below:

  • Resonance: People are loyal to the brand or loyal to the sport shoe industry regardless of the brand
  • Judgement: High quality and innovation profiled brand
  • Feelings: Sense of achievement and able to do anything
  • Performance: High Technical Performance
  • Imagery: Symbol of status and culturally ‘cool’ in people’s point of view.
  • Salience: Leader in the footwear industry


The process of building brands when done correctly can streamline our output of assets we create for the short and long term. This also ensures that everyone understands how/why the decisions have been made collectively.

Please research amongst your team or with the collaboration of Brand Design / Marketing beforehand so we have proper documentation and research for future-proofing.

This is available on our HackMD to steal / edit freely here


Hey All,

We have taken a first pass at defining the initial brand elements for Status (audience, architecture, foundation, purpose). This is the start of the branding initiative for Status and we would love your input.

Brand document here

Important to note - this branding initiative is designed for Status the product. To keep things simple, we will approach each initiative as its own unique identity (it also allows for more flexibility and ownership in design). So, this is not intended to cover brand design for The Status Network/DAO, Embark, Nimbus, Keycard, Incubate, et al.

Much of the information is taken from our conversation in Prague and @jarradhope discuss post here.

We have tried to identify insights between the ranging audiences as well as a story, idea, and system that will drive an emotion connection to the project no matter your background.

The Story leans heavily on the basic human behaviors in communication. We call these “primitives” as they break down communication (in all its form) into the simplest form and therefore relatable to all. I would love to know if anyone has thoughts on what some potential other primitives could be. cc @exiledsurfer @cryptowanderer

We then take the concept of primitive one step further and notice that what makes them so fundamental is their binary nature (0/1). The concept of binaries introduces juxtapositions in our product, brand, and ideals. They are intended to be polarizing. However, we do not provide an opinion on the “rightness” or “wrongness” of these binaries. We simple identify them as 1/0. The idea is that Status’ brand becomes binary in nature in both the way we look and feel as well as how we present information. Once again, I would love to know if anyone has any other thoughts on potential binaries. These can be specific to certain functions of Status:
@petty binaries in security
@j12b @ceri @anon16796968 binaries in people
@Chad binaries in other areas of product

Next Steps:

  • Explore additional binaries and primitives with the team.
  • Extensive ecosystem audit across all channels for additional binaries and touchpoints
  • @Ned start to visually explore how we can express the binaries through design (how can we articulate the brand story/idea through design/imagery)
  • E to create a brief for language/tone of voice. How does the story and idea manifest in language?

We will continue to post findings and explorations here and check in with the team every other week on progress.

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i have a problem with defining things as purely binary; the primitives we defined in vienna which are cited in the document, are more (as @cryptowanderer notes in is comments) like polar extremes that status balances tradeoffs between in the technical design choices we make, than they are rigid “either/or” choices.

The document seems more jumbled and chaotic than previous iterations.

Thanks @exiledsurfer and @cryptowanderer for taking the time to go through. This doc is intended to be a starting off point and start the conversation about how we express the brand.

Lots to unpack and you guys have brought up some really good points. Can we jump on a call to discuss further and help shape from here.

Had a think about this and struggled to apply binaries to people. Binaries in a sense feel like pigeonholes or generalisations, whereas people and behaviour tend to operate across a spectrum. Binaries in how people relate to Status also don’t feel like they work, e.g. looking at someone as either internal or external to Status can be exclusive, we want to encourage and celebrate involvement and contributions in all their forms. Thinking about the “state of us”, the binary to this would be the state of them, but we want Status to include all people?

That said, really enjoyed the brand doc - the purpose and the why really resonated with me. Thanks for sharing :raised_hands:t2:

based on the discussion here, I think moving the term “binaries” to something along the lines of “polar opposites” is more meaningful.

What are the extremes of a given function that we make trade-offs in?

example: centralization / decentralization in computer infrastructure.

what do those two things mean, and what trade-offs do we make when attempting to lean towards a given side?

Pictures from our brand discussion:

Thanks for the notes everyone. After disucssion and some good feeback (thanks @ceri), seems as though the concept of binaries is actually not what we are trying to articulate. They are not always true/false and can be open to interpretation and opinion.

What we can present are extremes, and polar opposites as corey stated above. What we need to uncover are the different polar opposites present in Status (things like centralization or decentralization). We will continue to think through these polar ideas starting with the principles.

There are a number of abstract concepts tied to the relation of polar opposites and how they apply to Status and the overall brand direction. But i challenge us all to think through these and see how we can simplify them into understandable and fundamental brand elements. One topic discussed is how Status enable the ability to choose between various “opposites” rendering people responsible for their actions. The illustration shared by @petty above are sketches trying to articulate that idea.

Next Steps:

  • Think about the spectrum (and choice) in the principles. I.E. What does the scale of security within Status look like? How are these concepts important to various people and elements of the project.
  • Collectively think through other opposites and spectrums present in Status as both a product and “brand” (independence/reliance)
  • Through the contrasting elements present, think through the “brand idea”
  • Visual representation of these opposites
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It would be cool if @igor @yenda @dmitryn @dmitrys @vitaliy @chad @patrick @hester could join us on next week’s scheduled call on thursday to widen the dialog what these choices mean in terms of ux and development of status’ products.

I’m up for it. Can you send me the invitation?

Would like to join too.

"spectrum of message darkness" relevant: from @igor