Building a brand

Brand manager

Building a brand

So many people miss the opportunity to build the opportunity to take their company to the next level because they don’t fully understand what a brand is or how they go about building something special.

I still maintain that a brand is the smartest business ‘invention’ ever, even outdating the ubiquitous Excel spreadsheet by hundreds of years.

What appeals to me so much is that a brand is intangible and created by emotions, making it the most dynamic, enthralling and yes, challenging ‘business tool’.

What follows is Sherpa’s 4-phase approach to creating a special brand.


Often, it’s sectors of a specific audience rather than the whole. Focus less on demographics and more on the personality traits, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles of your audience. Apply the old adage of “You Can’t Be All Things To All People”.


There are various processes involved when constructing your brand, all forming building blocks. The elements that we use to uncover a Brand DNA includes:

  • Brand Vision
  • Brand Objectives
  • Brand Values
  • Brand Positioning
  • Brand Personality / Brand Archetype
  • Brand Tonality

All of this is viewed from your audience’s point of view because it’s not about you, it’s about them.  Difficult to grasp I know, but let’s borrow from Kahil Gibran’s On Children.

Your children are not your children

They come through you but not from you

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

A little deep yes, but your brand belongs to the market so see it through their eyes.

We normally run a Brand DNA Workshop with our clients which involves them in the brand, provides them with new insight, and ultimately creates their brand’s framework to occupy that invisible place between them and their audience.  The place of connection.


This is where your brand draws its first breathe.   

It’s where you start thinking like an iconic brand. Why not, you don’t need the mega media budget to take your brand to market. Think LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tik-Tok.

Here, we’re matching an aspect of your Brand DNA to psychographics.

The best example that I can think of is Nike.

Nike celebrates heroic stories, where people are the hero of their own story. It’s the fight against their inner villain. Nike knows that every person is fighting against their everyday laziness and inspires them to find the hero within to yes, just get up and “Just Do It”.

So you sell widgets? Bummer. Not at all. Start thinking about your audience and not your widgets, and find the magic.

Nike became great because they:

  • Found a compelling tagline.
  • Sold stories, not products.
  • Empowered their audience.
  • Lived in their audiences heads.

Your brand strategy does not mean that you stop marketing products – we’re talking here about your brand, that siren-like beauty that creates brand loyalty to help you to sell your products (which is a marketing function).

We invite you to open up your brand and let your audience breathe in your brand!


This section is about clearly defining your corporate identity to ensure brand consistency. Why? Partly because every company has its brand renegades. Sales concocting their own presentations. A region deciding that their audience associates with funky. And so it goes on.

The components in your Corporate Identity manual can extend beyond look and feel so let’s talk about your Brand Framework rather.

  • Brand DNA
  • Brand strategy
  • Brand tonality and tone of voice
  • Logo, font and applications
  • Primary and secondary colour specs
  • Corporate stationary, print and digital
  • Presentation structuring and templates
  • Social media templates
  • Print and digital media asserts

It’s important to add Governance. This includes parties responsible for the brand, sign-off procedures, etc. Who is the “Brand Judge” in the business?


Your people make or break your brand. Get them on-brand through:

  • Educating, and
  • Enacting.


You do not have to bore employees with the genius of it all but rather get them excited. This is what Nike did. This is what Apple did. We’re going to do the same. This is what our brand is all about. This is why we’re doing it. This is how we’re going to do it. This is how you can be a part of it.


This is where ALL EMPLOYEES take responsibility for a part of the brand, department by department. “These are our brand values which we need to take to every corner of the business. How can you change or improve or introduce something that will make internal and external clients EXPERIENCE the brand first-hand from you?” Overnight, the entire staff compliment start finding ways to live the brand each day with the the aggregation thereof leading to a BRAND EXPERIENCE (remember, brands are about how you make people feel).

There is nothing more powerful in business than having all employees focused on a common purpose!

Are you up to building your brand? We’ll climb with you every step of the way.

Gary Hendrickse 
CEO Sherpa

Gary is an experienced brand strategist and brand and design agency boss. He creates brands, refreshes brands and repositions brands. He eats, sleeps and drinks brands. His early career as a brand manager, marketing manager, sales manager, business development manager, and product development manager for some of SA’s top brands brings that extra edge to a brand.

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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