We receive lots of RFP’s. In fact, we’re on track this year to meet an enviable benchmark that would represent a new annual record for number of requests received. These requests come in all shapes and sizes, as one might expect, and reflect organizations of every ilk. There are no standards in the industry for preparing a uniform RFP; in fact, many requests come with only a one-page strategic brief, or not even that.
Obviously, not every prospective client requires a full-scale rebranding, but in some fashion or another, they are always interested in a portion of the comprehensive scope of branding services that we offer. Ideally, we hope to serve as a partner in helping the executive management team define the most beneficial approach and scope. Front-end services that are considered diligence for our team are easily estimated with fixed fee pricing, and extremely useful at informing additional Phases of any project: Identifying missed opportunities or misused budget dollars, developing messaging that resonates more effectively, defining the most valuable channels and which tools need a smart redesign, etc. On the occasions when I have been able to play a role in structuring an RFP, I’ve enjoyed it and, more importantly, was able to make the bidding process more focused and efficient.
Every initiative begins with a discovery, for example, and that almost always requires some level of qualitative research. Minimally, this process entails stakeholder interviews, but given our druthers, we can deliver a more confident, triangulated level of analysis and strategic planning through internal, and external, interviews. It’s not unusual to gain valuable insights at the executive management and Board level, operational level, and to further supplement this work with interviews conducted among several external audiences.
More than ever before, organizations are interested in sharpening their brand story, defining their audiences and key messages, and better understanding the overarching value proposition or “Unique Sales Proposition.” In some cases, all of this diligence informs and guides work into the visual brand, and in turn, that work — usually if deemed successful through formal or informal, anecdotal research — leads to a proof of concept, or application of the design to one flagship marketing product. In some cases, we continue to apply the new system design, usage guidelines to templates, producing multichannel communications and marketing assets for our clients.
The full scope of branding, from kickoff to post-launch research, is shown here in a diagram I have coined the “3-D’s,” and will hopefully serve as a valuable resource for anyone creating an RFP:
- Project Scope and Process
- Review of Existing Research (Industry, Customer, etc.)
- Qualitative Research (Internal/External)
- Inventory of Marketing and Communications
- Brand Assessment Report (Benchmarking and Recommendations)
- Strategic Planning (Core Value Proposition, Positioning, Differentiation, Mission/Vision/Values)
- Brand Assets and Architecture
- Communications Matrix (Audiences, Key Messages, Channels, Desired Outcomes)
- Visual Identity System
- Template Tools and Usage Guidelines
- Quantitative Research (to validate recommendations)
- Buy-In Programs/Training
- Proof of Concept (Application to One Flagship Product)
- Implementation for Tactical Products (Event, Digital, Print, Social, etc.)
- Annual Brand Review (Audit of Research to Measure Performance)