Archive for October, 2010

Brand Messaging: Does your brand have multiple personalities?

Posted in brand with tags , on October 26, 2010 by wisdomlondon

It’s nice to meet someone who’s as obsessive about clearly articulating a brand’s message as much as I am.  So we’re especially pleased to feature Gemma Went of Red Cube Marketing, as she drives home the importance of Brand Messaging:

When I’m taken on to handle a marketing or PR activity I often have to ask the client to backtrack a few steps. All too often brand messaging is confused and needs redefining before we talk execution. This confusion can lead to a brand appearing to have multiple personalities, all telling a different story.

Messaging is key to every brand or business. It’s part of how people define ‘who’ the brand is and decide whether they want to engage. But when you’re working ‘in’ the brand, it’s easy to miss the mixed messages that are being sent out through various channels.

In Wisdom London’s last blog post, Jill Ruthenberg gave us a great example of an Emotive Brand. This stuff is gold dust and the ultimate goal of all brands, big or small. One of the key components of creating this emotional attachment is the right messaging. From a strapline to an elevator pitch, messaging is what connects the brand with its audience. Get it right and you’re on your way to achieving those all important business objectives. Get it wrong and you’ll leave people confused, disconnected and less likely to buy from you. It’s that simple.

I recently held a messaging workshop for a client with 15 of its senior team. Ahead of the workshop I sent out some questions. One was simply “Who is xxxxxxxx?”. I received 8 variants. EIGHT. And that was only a small portion of the team. I also asked what was the USP and had a similar response. Now imagine each of these people speaking to prospects, telling a completely different brand story. Imagine the emails they were sending out, describing what the business is and what they can do. None of this would match the marketing message and those prospects would be both confused and disconnected, unsure of what the brand does or whether it’s right for them.

Unfortunately this is a common problem. Employees get busy doing their day job and without clear guidelines of what the brand messaging is, will make it up based on their own internal experience of the brand, which can differ hugely from employee to employee. And this is just internally. If this messaging hasn’t been developed, tested and agreed the messages used across all branding, marketing and PR activity will be equally confused.

So how do you create clear, relevant, coherent messaging?

  • Listen to the people that matter. Listen to what others are saying about you by running a survey amongst your employees, current clients/customers and other stakeholders (Survey Monkey is great for this). Ask questions that will help you understand clearly how your brand is perceived and what you need to change. Ask simple questions such as
    • What does the brand do?
    • What does the brand do that’s different to competitors?
    • Describe the brand in 5 words.
    • What’s the value of the brands approach?

Also plug in to social media and use listening tools to find out what people are saying about you online.

  • Take time to understand what’s important to your clients or customers. What are their core values? What do they need from a brand such as yours? What issues do they have that need fixing? Your messaging should be all about ‘them’ and less about ‘you’, so be clear what they need from you and use this to drive your messaging.
  • Understand your business goals and objectives. What are you trying to achieve? What messages can help you to achieve that?
  • Take a look at your competitor’s messaging and think about how you can position yourself away from them.
  • Think about your touchpoints, the messaging has to work across things like email, conversations (you know, the face to face stuff), advertising (above or below the line), PR activities, social networking sites, your website, your blog, guest blogging, commenting on blogs and forums, rich media … and such like.

The core messaging elements

Once you’ve immersed yourself in the above research, develop your core brand messaging elements:

  • Your USP. What you do that’s different. The thing that makes you stand out against your competitors.
  • Your brand values. This is your foundation, the building blocks of your brand personality and should run through all messaging.
  • Your strapline (if you need one).
  • Your elevator pitch. The short sentence you give when people ask who you work for.
  • Your positioning statement. Usually 50 words or less and covers what you do, who for, your benefits and why prospects should choose you.
  • A longer descriptor. This goes into more detail than the positioning statement and covers your product/service offering and more detail on your benefits and why prospects should choose you.
  • The language and tone. This will define how formal, informal the language and tone will be.
  • Core messages. I find it useful to create a list of core messages that fit with each area of a business. If they have a range of departments, services or products. It details the messages that need to be communicated for each and how these fit with the overall messaging.

Once these have been developed, test them on your staff, key clients or customers that know you well. Check they resonate and tweak as necessary. Once you’re messaging is right, create guidelines and train your staff to ensure they’re comfortable with it. And of course, ensure they are used across all marketing and PR.

The right messaging is hugely important to your brand. Is yours working for you? Is it creating the right action? Are people confused about who you are?

With many thanks to Gemma Went.

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Posted in Uncategorized on October 25, 2010 by wisdomlondon

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Emotive Brands: People love…. Pedlars

Posted in brand with tags , , , , , , , on October 22, 2010 by wisdomlondon

By Jill Ruthenberg

pedlars.co.ukBuilding brand emotion is one of the most important investments you can make in a brand. So how do you create an emotive brand? Let me introduce you to Pedlars, who have achieved the height of brand emotion: love.

Pedlars is a lifestyle brand that was founded by husband and wife, Charlie and Caroline Gladstone more than 12 years ago. The brand itself incorporates the Hawarden Estate Farm Shop, Balbegno Castle and of course, Pedlars, a collection of stores throughout the UK as well as an online store where they sell an array of chic home accessories, gifts, furniture and hand-picked vintage pieces. But to many, Pedlars means so much more than this.

Below is a snippet of the dialogue between Pedlars and consumers on Twitter over the last week or so – the words that are largest are the words most often used:

Love PedlarsIt’s exciting (but not surprising) to see that when people talk about Pedlars, the word used most often besides their name, is love. And not just a ‘oh that’s cool’ kind of love, but a passionate, “I would give my eye-teeth… for a company like them” kind of love. Their strapline is even, ‘stuff we love that you’ll love too’.

And we do! Customers are increasingly loyal and are can’t help but spread the word:

“I love their down-to-earth aesthetic mix” – Dwell

“I love your shop” – @iloveheartstoo

“@TheGladstones just love ‘dog of the week’ – a must for all A List pooches! Our terrier Tilly been living off the fame ever since appearing!” – @angelathome from Angel Lifestyle

“[Pedlars] have a genuine passion and feel for their goods and their customers, something that is sadly lacking in many places today, but it seems to thrive with them. I like the way they think, I love the products… Do check out both the website and the blog, and see if it takes your fancy.” – lalaweenworld

How did they achieve this – how have they created an emotive brand? The love people feel for Pedlars is a result of the close connections and emotional ties that Charlie and Caroline have enabled and fostered. From the products they sell, to the cheerful customer service, through to their brand messaging, they manifest this love; love of design, love for home, love for family, love of life.

We’ve narrowed it down to:

  1. Touch points: each access point gives unique quality, yet are always on-brand
  2. Personality: they live and breathe it
  3. Community: it’s an inviting niche

Touch points

In the words of Marc Gobe, author, designer and creator of Emotional Branding, brands need to love people back.

Pedlars amplify the brand through brand communications (catalogues, website, their lexicon), and have harnessed Social Media to give the brand genuine personality, and foster a loyal following that continues to grow across platforms. They have multiple touch points that allow their followers to engage with them, be it Twitter (they have two: @thegladstones and @PedlarsDOTW), Facebook, their blog (some of the best photography I’ve ever seen done on an iPhone), and now even youtube, we can get involved in the life of Charlie and Caroline and this wraps value around their all-encompassing lifestyle offer.

Personality

The best thing about these touch points, is that they are managed by Charlie and Caroline themselves, who are genuinely cool people.

The unique dialogue between Charlie and Caroline and consumers centers around a powerful combination of interests that they are both so passionate about: family; nature; music; design; culture; home; travel; food; design; shopping.

We get a look into the world of Pedlars; family camping trips, days out, the projects they’re working on, their love of dogs. They share what music they’re listening to (Charlie used to produce – really cool stuff. Check out their Facebook page). They share their dreams with us. The best part is their humour, their love of life and their celebration of it.

They passionately provide more than is expected and welcome you into their inner circle.

Community

Over time, Pedlars has been able to attract a loving community of loyal customers and brand advocates, while maintaining exclusivity. The Pedlars personality is clear and consistent, and not for everybody, which keeps things intimate. Through the multiple touch points, they are enabling and nurturing community and providing both physical and emotional benefits. Now, passionate fans are sharing and building excitement with their friends.

A brand is what a brand does and Pedlars is one of those brands that just gets it, and so they make it easy for us to love them. What are you doing to make sure your brand connects on an emotional level? What emotions does your service, messaging and communications conjure up?

Brand Series: A Global Agency Speaks – The Brand Union

Posted in brand with tags , on October 20, 2010 by wisdomlondon


Next up in our brand series, a look at brand with Simon Bailey, UK CEO of The Brand Union, one of the world’s foremost agencies, whose clients include brands as diverse as Barbie, De Beers, RBS and Vodafone.

Their holistic approach to branding encompasses research, strategy, design, engagement and evaluation.

The Brand Union was named 2009 Design Agency of the Year by Marketing Magazine, for their work with Bank of America / Merrill Lynch, Argos and Vodafone.

Simon, what makes a great brand?
One of my favourite quotes on the subject of brand and one that I return to often when talking to clients, is from Arun Sarin, when he was Chief Executive of Vodafone.  He said, “A brand is what a brand does“. I think that’s really insightful when you look at it, because truthfully, no matter how good your branding strategy and approach is, it’s at least as important to execute it right.  This is what many brand managers struggle with, but it’s what sets great brands apart.

What does that look like in practice?
It’s about making strategic intent come to life. Brand is not a combination of words and design elements on a page – brands are built by experience, interaction. Whatever a brand stands for, a brand needs to be singular in pursuing that. You have to stick ruthlessly to an idea.

Who demonstrates that brilliantly?
I think Pret a Manger has achieved that idea of 360 branding really well. It’s evident in every aspect of what they do – from demonstrating passion through their tone of voice and their fresh approach to writing about food, to their obsession with natural ingredients, CSR and team-player ethos.  They’ve managed to create stature and esteem around the art of coffee making (which has set the bar for the industry). I also like that they show discretion in their outlets – it’s a very human experience.  You get to know the team in your local Pret, they get to know your order and a free coffee every now and then isn’t unheard of.

Virgin is incredibly strong as a brand through their single-minded vision to champion the customer – in all of the markets they’ve entered, they’ve differentiated by finding better ways of serving the customer.  It’s a disruptive business model and they’ve made a success of it.

What can we take away from these examples?
It’s simply that brands are not built by just doing branding brilliantly – they are built by doing business brilliantly and the skill is in aligning the two. Good brands recognise that you can’t appeal to everyone.  The old notion of emulating ‘best practice’ is not enough – brands have to carve out their own way. Uncommon practice is what differentiates.

Who owns a brand? The customer or the corporation?
It’s really less about ownership and more about perception. Brand resides in the mind of the customer, and their own perception will be coloured by many, many factors. The brand owner’s role is to attempt to shape and influence that perception.

And there are different ways to approach that.  If you compare two grocery giants for example: Tesco is a hugely powerful brand that’s built on a pretty simple idea of “every little helps”. They respond to feedback and make incremental improvements in line with what their customers want, all backed up by a powerful operational machine.  So Tesco becomes almost a part of the family – a regular, relied upon presence.

Ocado, on the other hand, thinks ahead of its customer group, introducing advances which weren’t necessarily envisioned but which nevertheless create demand (ie. the Ocado mobile app). So they surprise and please their customers but foreseeing what they might need and creating reliance in that way.

We’re living in social times.  What impact do emerging technologies have on the process of branding?
Nothing’s changed and everything’s changed. Word of mouth has always been the most important source of referral.  That process is now accelerated and amplified by social media. But social media does change the game for brands:

– Organisations now need to be more transparent
– They need to create a feedback loop, and act on what their customers tell them
– They must be open to scrutiny as never before, and to some extent, held to account
– Open platforms for debate mean that brands need to be prepared to react to feedback, or risk alienating people.

What does it mean for agencies?
In the digital age, there’s so much expectation of speed. Barriers to being creative have been lowered by technology, so clients will challenge more readily – “couldn’t we do this ourselves?”

In a nutshell, why is brand so very important?
What we want to show business is that brands are valuable assets in their own right. Consider a well-known hypothetical question: What would happen if you divided up an established business – one partner takes the factory and the other takes the brand and trademark.  Who will be better off in five years? I’d put my money on the partner with the brand every time.

With many thanks to Simon Bailey and The Brand Union.

Emotive branding: the path to meaning

Posted in brand with tags , , , , on October 19, 2010 by wisdomlondon

Earlier in our October Brand Series, Jill interviewed Elle Moss from Drew Creative to get her scope on what a brand actually is. Something she said really got us thinking; that what it is, is emotion. Not a logo and colour scheme, and just not customer experience or perceptions, but emotion.

On that interesting and thought provoking note, we’ve got something very exciting for you this week. We are exploring this idea of emotive branding in depth. And we could think of no better way to start off by asking Emotive Strategist at Emotive Brand, Jerry Holtaway to share about brand emotion and some of his extensive experience in branding strategy for consumer, business and service brands with us.

Here’s what he had to say:

Emotive BrandEmotive branding is based on the premise that great things happen when B2B and B2C brands connect meaningfully to the people vital to their success. At Emotive Brand, a San Francisco based brand consultancy, we have developed a discipline and methodology that quickly sets brands on the path to true meaning.

We came to focus on meaning when we noticed the remarkable performance of a handful of notable brands: Virgin, Apple, Zappo’s, Ikea and Lego. They are remarkable because the way they do business truly changes the way people regard them and how they behave as a result.

These are brands that get people to queue up to buy their next product. They manage to attract and keep the best employees. Partners and suppliers compete for their business and brag about their association with these brands. Strong brand advocates tell compelling stories about their brand experience and satisfaction to their friends and families. Positive stories about the brand pervade the press and social media channels.

The keys of meaning

Clearly there was some “magic” that these brands held – over and above the good products and services they sold. We deconstructed these notable brands and  found the keys to meaning.

The first key of meaning opens the door of personal relevance. Open that door and you connect to the beliefs, values, and aspirations of people. You do this by making people aware of your reason for being – your “why”. You make clear to people what you do in this world to make their life better. When people sync with you on that level they find their relationship with you highly relevant.

The second key of meaning opens a door called emotional importance. Open that door and you connect with people on a very personal and upbeat level. You do this by consistently evoking a set of feelings you want to have associated with your brand. Through these feelings, you reach out and touch people in a new way that makes them feel special. They are drawn closer to you and attach greater importance to their relationship with you.

With the doors of relevance and emotional importance open, meaning flows from you to the people vital to your success – and then back again. That’s because as your brand becomes more and more meaningful to these people, they change the way they behave. Because you’ve reached out to them in a meaningful way, they respond back to you in a meaningful way.

How we put this thinking to work

We start by helping our clients formulate a “Driving Idea” that articulates their reason for being in a human and motivating way. It serves to inspire all the people behind their brand, from those developing new products to those answering calls from customers. We also help our clients identify a concise set of feelings which we call their “Emotional Space”. Together these keys of meaning form what we call the brand’s “Emotive Core”.

We then figure out how to bring your Emotive Core to life as our clients interact with the people vital to their brand’s success. We analyze how these “brand moments” can be made more meaningful when seen through the lens of the brand’s Emotive Core. We look for opportunities to conveying greater personal relevance and evoke feelings that promote emotional importance.

Over time, as more and more of our client’s brand moments generate meaning, their brands seriously distance themselves from their competitors. Indeed, meaning translates into success across a range of business measures.

Will it work for a B2B brand?

The examples we cite are consumer brands because everyone tends to know of these notable brands and can readily see how they use meaning to be different and how being meaningful builds their business. But we believe every brand can benefit from this thinking – especially B2B brands.

Why? Many B2B brands struggle to differentiate themselves and bring people closer to their brand based on business as usual. Having said that, B2B brands have many significant “brand moments” which can be made more meaningful through emotive branding. Its simply a matter of shifting the way you reach out to people.

For example, we recently did an emotive branding project for VMworld 2010, the world’s largest virtualization event, through which our client VMware reached out to the virtualization community in a meaningful way. You can read about this meaningful brand moment here: http://tiny.cc/vmworld2010

For more information about emotive branding, contact Tracy Lloyd, Partner, Emotive Brand, tracyl@emotivebrand.com

Massive thanks to Jerry Holtaway. You can follow Emotive Brand here, check them out here, learn from them here and connect with them here.


Brands in Action: The Big, Bad Re-brand

Posted in brand with tags , on October 15, 2010 by wisdomlondon

We’ve seen recently what can go wrong with a re-brand, on a pretty major scale.  But for smaller players, it’s every bit as much of a big deal. Whether re-branding or consolidating brands after an acquisition, it’s vital to ensure that the fruit of the process is a consistent, differentiated and coherent proposition that’s matched to the audience.  And as we know, that means much much more than just a set of visual elements.

Earlier this year, we worked with Delaney Consulting, an IT firm, to consolidate their brand following the acquisition of a biometrics firm.  They started out with two disparate brands, and ended up with two complementary, logical and extendable brands.  Branding in the B2B sphere is fraught with considerations, not least, how to differentiate and be creative while maintaining an air of professional assurance?

Here’s how we approached it:

1. Competitor analysis and brand exploration

We talked a lot about who else provided similar services and the audience for Delaney’s products.  We took time to really understand the main business challenges of Delaney’s clients, to help us establish what Delaney could do to address those, and make to that value clear to the audience.  Messaging exploration led us to develop some critical tools for the branding process:

  • Analysis of Delaney’s brand attributes, differentiators and key words (not the search type)
  • Set of core messages: What Delaney wanted people to know about them
  • Brand lexicon: The language they used to say it
  • Straplines: To add descriptive richness to the two Delaney brands

2. Creative brief

Once we were clear about who and what Delaney was in the marketplace and who they were pitched to in audience terms, we developed a creative brief for our design partners, Drew Creative Branding.  This included: Market overview, Delaney background and offerings, brand positioning, key messages and brand attributes and the core focus of the branding.  In this case, it was to convey “managed complexity”.

3. Messaging pack

While Elle worked her creative magic on the visual identity, we developed an easy-to-understand messaging pack for the Delaney team.  Following an acquisition, and the integration of a new team, this was especially important.  In order for the workforce to feel valued, integrated and motivated, the vision and messages behind Delaney and the new brand needed to be articulated and shared.

4. Creative directions and iterations

Elle provided us with a set of four creative directions, ranging from close to the original brand, to two middle-weight options and a “wildcard” (far from the original brand).  The main concept was built around managing complexity and bringing security and assurance, so interlocking shapes were proposed.

Palette was taken into consideration at this point – we decided to focus on nearly-black (security, boldness, certainty) matched with orange as an accent colour for consulting (positive, differentiated) and green for biometrics (organic, living).

5. Consolidation

We worked through various iterations of the logotype before reaching the final versions used today. The strapline also changed around a little during that process – we felt strongly that it needed to match the final logo.

The brand was finally signed-off and then consolidated with document blueprints, using various treatments of the logo and palette.  We also created marketing assets, based on the brand lexicon and key messages we had established and the strong visual identity. Here’s the final identity:

What made it work?  We think it came down to a few factors:

  • A committed client who understood the value of brand
  • Groundwork to understand the audience, market and everyday reality of the end user
  • A focus on messaging: this helped all of us to never lose sight of the vision
  • A rock-solid creative brief…and brilliant interpretation by the Drew team

Re-branding is a big and scary step, and never more so than when an established audience will be affected.  Understanding them, and their reality, is a key measure – and as Gap found, can mean the difference between re-branding success and failure.

Kate Spiers is founder and director of Wisdom London, a creative communications consultancy.  Evangelical about getting branding right, especially in the B2B world.  Contact Kate to know more: kate@wisdomlondon.com or on 020 7193 9149.