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The Branding SOW: 5 Quick Tips for Success

By Ray Baird

If this is your first branding project or you’ve been asked to be involved with a branding project, understanding and creating a well thought out SOW (Scope of Work) is paramount to success.

A well thought out SOW should drive the type of RFP (Request for Proposal) you develop and the type of potential partners that are best suited for the project. Creating a well-defined SOW can also save you from personal embarrassment, scope creep, keep everyone on budget and most of all, send the signal that you and your organization are well informed, well prepared and serious about the project. Getting the SOW right is a key to success.

So often, the team at RiechesBaird is invited to participate in projects where the organization has not done its own homework, they are not aligned on their objectives and do not have a clear picture of what they are looking to achieve.

Let’s face it, branding has many different meanings and expectations within an organization. Many branding strategies fail due to a lack of defined objectives, poor planning or unreal expectations. So, in order to start on the right foot, begin the process by clearly defining your SOW/process.

MINDSET: View your branding SOW as a road-map to drive the entire project and ensure alignment between your organization and the branding strategy partner you select, placing specific attention on expectations, working relationship and deliverables.

Many times the SOW can serve as a project or master agreement. But in this specific case, we are referring to a branding project SOW.

Consider these Top 5 Tips To Preparing Your SOW

1. Determine the “Burning Platform”. Your PURPOSE:

Every significant branding project we’ve been involved with starts with a core problem/opportunity/personal desire. Before entering into a vague notion of rebranding, developing a new brand strategy or evolving the brand story/creative, you’ve got to get at the heart of the matter. Find the “Burning Platform” — why does the company have a desire for the project and define a reason that everyone can agree on or agree to disagree on. Only with this understanding can your team develop a SITUATION SUMMARY that sets up the PURPOSE of the exercise.

2. Don’t go alone. Collaborate on specific OBJECTIVES.:

Branding is not an individual sport — in most cases your branding project will affect many different parts of the organization. Once you’ve clearly identified the PURPOSE, you need to form a cross-functional team to help you understand and identify specific OBJECTIVES. I know it sounds text book, but when you speak with sales, HR, Operations or Finance, you’re going to get many different requests and desires of the expectations (it’s better that you align the organization before you begin the project). It’s critical to form a brand committee to represent the entire organization and build objectives with a stamp of approval from the executive sponsor. Yes, we believe in order for your company to make this a priority and show commitment, you need to select an EXECUTIVE SPONSOR.

3. Describe the work. Identify the specific DELIVERABLES:

We know it’s difficult to sometimes describe specific deliverables, but it’s critical to get as specific as possible. Use the objectives you established to create specific deliverables. Consider breaking the project into phases such as DISCOVERY/DEVELOPMENT/EXECUTION. This way, you can develop a staged process with specific milestones and deliverables at the end of each phase. The DISCOVERY process may include items such as: internal assessment, executive interviews, market research, customer perceptions, competitive audit, and employee survey (you get the picture). During the STRATEGY phase, you may want to consider such elements as brand strategy, positioning, messaging, identity, creative and guidelines. And lastly, the EXECUTION phase would include such items as brand introduction, training, go-to-market strategy and specifics like website and adverting integration. By developing a phased approach with specific deliverables you will able to understand the project in its entirety, but manage it in a controlled manner. Also, no one company can be best at all things. Defining the specifics will help you find the best partners for the right parts of your project.

4. It’s all between the ears. Pick your TEAM:

If you’ve worked on a brand project before, you know the team and their experience means everything. Don’t be afraid to specify the team members and senior involvement in the SOW. The last thing you want are surprises with your executive team. It’s important to request principle involvement to ensure the highest degree of experience and representation.


If this is your first branding assignment, you need to cover yourself and include the list of must haves:

  • Period of Performance
  • Deliverable Schedule
  • Cost structure
  • Payment schedule
  • Contract specifics (ownership/rights etc.)

These are all standard/fundamentals you need to consider and need to include to fulfill the SOW obligations. You can refer to many online articles that detail out the specifics.

So, for your next branding project, consider these quick tips to ensure a successful branding outcome and experience. Take it from us, the work you do up front will pay off big in the end.