When you think of the art of branding, what comes to mind? What about the science that drives it? Two very different approaches, don’t you think? The art of branding has secured its place as a creative, intuitive and artful way of presenting a brand. By contrast, the science of branding is the research-intense process by which national brands arrive at positional statements and brand messaging approaches. Most marketers would never separate the two from one another when building a brand. I certainly wouldn’t.

That said, you do need to think of building your brand in stages, or phases, with the understanding that a successful brand is one that can sustain its growth over the long haul. I noted the launch of Vistaprint’s new brand strategy and related marketing campaign this week. Vistaprint has been selling its business cards for 10 years and literally given away over 4 billion with their 250 free business card offer – www.vistaprint.com. Now they are branching out by redesigning access to many of their other products and services along with the tools you can use to design them.

Frankly, it’s easy for any of us to be intimidated by competitors who are much larger than we are who have deeper pockets than ours. But I would put forward that that is exactly how they became large. One phase at a time according to what made sense for that year. By definition, meeting the needs of your customers is always the best way to grow, and Vistaprint has figured out how to do that well.

So what brand signals are you putting out there for all to see? And what is the strategy that is driving it? Just gaining new sales is not enough. Rather, I find myself needing to ask the following two questions, “If I do this specific promotion today, what will this make my company look like to my customers tomorrow, and, what will I need to do for a follow-up? If I can’t answer these two questions satisfactorily I am reluctant to proceed with the promotion. That almost always keeps me from over-promising and on track for the short and long-term.