Tag: Branding

Egg on your shop display designers!

(Or the POS department)…

Messy.
Messy.

What a shame! Someone in the display section of this major high street retailer really missed an opportunity. These egg timers have all the promise of making an eye catching product in the kitchen department. Why not try to feature them with an equally eye-catching display? Egg cups anyone? Or even better an egg box to be truly authentic with the amount of egg timers and different colours available.
I found this egg packaging endearing: behance – though just an open egg box would have been fine…
Lovely simple egg display…

A simple egg box would have done...
A simple egg box would have done…

Branding doesn’t stop with a good product and messaging. The packaging is just as important – and if there is none in a retail environment, POS or display design takes on a crucial role in expression that brand message. Looking at the shelf now it says bright and will fly around the house. Not sure.
If it was neatly displayed, and looked organised, that would be more my cup of tea. Kitchens get messy without anyone doing much of anything! If you compare this display to any of the  Joseph Joseph brand, I am quite certain they would have made a feature of the holder as much as of the product.
joseph-joseph-nesting-utensils
Ladle stand..

joseph-joseph-chopping-boards
Chopping board file…

Ad hoc” tea infuser design with stand – no dripping, rolling off or mess after use

Branding is in the detail. And those little extra details can make all the difference in the busy shelves or high street shops…

Branding, packaging

Santander and That Strange Connection

20130718-181332.jpg We must be a nation in love with sport at the
moment. Last year’s Olympics are still a relatively fresh memory,
Andy Murray did us proud at Wimbledon and all is not lost yet for
the football, either. I get that celebrities are powerful brand
endorsers and can add to the image enormously – but what Santander
has to do with it is still a mystery to me. I find their sports ads
this year just as contrived as the bank account raving ones with
Lewis Hamilton last year. Throwing anames at a brand campaign does
not guarantee it will be memorable for all the right reasons. Note
to self: must research some good examples of where it works well
for a brand. After my holiday. And without thinking about
Santander’s iPhone app.

advertising, Branding

post-office-branding-nessness post-office-branding-nessness post-office-branding-nessness post-office-branding-nessness

Sticks Together Nicely – Simple Post Office Brand Graphics

My advertising tutor at Central Saint Martins always talked about ‘ness-ness’ of things, about finding the essence of a subject matter and then visualising it in an engaging and simple manner. (Hello Clive!) Such adverts or brand messages have an innate honesty within them which may be the reason why they are often far more successful than complicated (and convoluted) displays.
This banner stand reminded me of the ness-ness tutorials. Using stamps to carry messages seems rather apt for the post office and whilst it’s probably nothing to shout about, the banner design feels appropriate and invites being read. We like!…

post-office-branding-nessness
Nice use of ness-ness in this banner stand graphic

advertising, Branding, graphic design

How (NOT) to Advertise a Fleece Blanket

It’s one of those lovely finds my husband brought back from a business meeting – well, the photo that is, he wouldn’t have dared to get the product looking at the packaging!
I guess I may have been in danger of mocking him… have a look at the picture. Anything striking you as odd? Perhaps we are not getting this but why would you use a picture of a summery dressed girl with a laptop on her bare legs (if you’ve ever held that type laptop on your skin you’ll remember how hot it gets) advertising a cosy fleece blanket – which incidentally has not been treated with fire resistant chemicals and can thus not be used on soft furnishings, such as the sofa the lady is lying on?!!??!
I wonder what Alan Sugar would say to this packaging (‘does it show the product?’…) To me, it looks like a churned out product line not really caring about any brand awareness and purely targeting a ‘cheap buy’ at a motorway station, so never mind the apparent packaging inaptitude – it’s just a lovely sample of ‘what not to do’.

Brand-Packaging-Design-Mistakes
Not hot enough? Need a blanket? Don’t use it on a sofa though!

 

Branding, Design, Funny, graphic design, packaging

Learn to Look the Other Way – With Birmingham City University

BCU-Brand-Advert
Become the best – and look the other way

Of course this is another very subjective matter, but it struck me as odd to see this advert promoting Birmingham City University courses. In my mind, teaching is about communication, facing each other, learning from each other – and in this poster, they seem to be saying that you become the best when you don’t look at each other. It may be that the visual won’t work as well because the lines of the cogs and conveyor belt would go across the eye area of the heads, but then perhaps they should have thought of a different way to show this message.
This graphic doesn’t work for me and if anything, the visual makes me doubt that they have the right courses on offer that will be stimulating, engaging and empowering – it just feels wrong, whichever way I look at it.

advertising, attitude, brand advertising, Branding, graphic design

When Thinking Backwards is a Step in the Right Direction

fitflops-covering-beach-with-logo
What are they saying?

Imagine a vast landscape covered with your logo, visible at every step. Would be nice? Meet fitflop, the brand who had the chance to do just that, but decided not to.
fitflops-beach-branding
Turns out, they are saying nothing at all! What a pity, ’cause they could have had their logo plastered all over the sandy beaches of the world…

Their fashionable take on flip flops with a ‘special’ sole has been present on the UK high street for a while now and has become another summer shoe brand alongside Crocs .
On the bottom of their shoes emblazoned in large letters is their logo in a distinct type. It seems that nobody in the product design department saw the potential of the beach shoes spelling out the brand message on Britain’s sandy shores and overseas. Instead, they leave a rather uninspiring ‘golftit’ or just a jumble of what could be letters.
It seems such an apt carrier  for their brand message (beach, sand, sandals, big letter logo…) I can’t believe no-one jumped at this opportunity!

Brand Strategy, Branding, graphic design, typography

Follow Your Convictions – And Sack the Stylist!

There have been a number of blog posts about Bob Geldof’s campaign with Maurice Lacroix and how those two brands go together. They even made a video clip – though in my mind it doesn’t really help change the perception that Bob has perhaps gone for the bucks rather than the ethos.
This blog post by merrick describes the moral dilemma rather nicely.
There is however another issue in this – one where I question the watch brand’s choice to use Bob Geldof as their ambassador – and the main question why they could not manage to create a better image of him representing their high quality products! Greasy hair, bags under the eyes, unhealthy looking skin, a rather cynical look – the whole poster shouts everything other than individualism, integrity and high quality.
Perhaps they are appealing to an audience I do not understand but it would put me off considering their watches as desirable no matter what the price tag.

Bob-Geldof-branding
The right kind of image for a luxury watch brand? It might have looked good as an idea on paper, but the result looks more like a badly printed student project.

advertising, brand management, Brand Vision, Branding, personal branding

SME Branding Lesson #22 – Turning a Negative into a Positive

I’ve just had a weekend in York and had lunch at a restaurant / bar with a Latin theme. It was spacious in itself but there was no toilet on the ground floor. You had to climb five flights of stairs and there was no lift – lots of accessibility issues spring to mind, even ignoring wheelchairs (try carrying a child up all those stairs…).
I could have left the place with a dampened feeling and not just tired legs, but they did something clever with their unfortunate toilet situation – they made it a feature!
All it took was some entertainment on the way up. Instead of emphasising the somewhat arduous trip, it made me walk up twice (second time iPhone in hand to capture the trail).
No business is perfect – and I feel that this is a really simple and nice example for how to deal with situations that have to be managed before they can eventually be altered.
I for one will be remembering this bar for the positive brand experience their innovative dealing with a negative situation has created.
clever-brand-management-02
















brand loyalty, brand management, brand message, Brand Strategy, Branding, Funny

SME Branding Lesson #21 – Strap Lines, Brand Promises and Does it All Matter?

It took me a while to realise what was bothering me about the new campaign for Esso. Something just didn’t feel right – which I guess is what branding is all about. The chemistry seems wrong between me and their new slogan ‘We fuel progress.’
But what’s not to like? Straplines and slogans have been with us forever, they are a great, simple way to get the brand essence across and gives the company the opportunity to show some attitude, its own language, its mentality and gives a glimpse of what the brand stands for.
Nike’s ‘Just do it.’ inspired a whole nation of fitness lovers without olympic ambition. Apple’s ‘Think different’ struck a cord not only with creatives, but more and more with consumers of home entertainment and technology. Even Esso’s ‘Put a tiger in your tank’ seems more exciting and personable than the extension of last year’s ‘We fuel creativity’ with Lego promotion. It seems the line lacks meaning for the consumer. In a time where fuel prices are ever increasing and profits soaring, there is something patronising about this statement. ‘We fuel progress’, don’t you know? Aren’t we clever! You just keep paying us and we keep paying our marketing department to come up with yet another clever line that tells you how well we are doing because naturally this is all you are interested in!
Oh, they mean the long term benefit of their fuel and are ‘making fuel work harder for you’. It just does not engage me.
There are plenty of great slogans that have stood the test of criticism and time.

Andrex Toilet Paper

Around since the 70s, the Andrex® Puppy is one of the UK’s most recognisable brand icons.

Andrex brand slogan
It’s the little things… and that little bit of consistency that adds to the success of this brand.

Tommee Tippee

This household baby brand is probably far more known for their sub brand ‘closer to nature’ than its slogan ‘simply intuitive’… but it’s a nice line nonetheless.
Tommee Tippee Logo and Slogan

Closer to nature sub brand
The power of a sub brand. Often used interchangeable among mothers, the sub brand has become a brand name and slogan in itself.

BT – British Telecom

BT slogan
I had to look it up – when BT dropped its “It’s good to talk” slogan, it didn’t quite capture the imagination with ‘bringing it all together’…

Dulux

It’s another household name and the slogan ‘let’s colour’ sums it up just nicely.

Dulux brand slogan
Another famous dog – dulux has made a brand name for itself and I wonder if the dulux dog is now part of the dog breeders index…

BBC
A brilliant brand and institution (in my mind anyway) and one with such an amazing history. I can’t imagine they will ever change their old motto “Nation shall speak peace unto Nation” – but who knows!
BBC motto
What they all have in common (and there are many more) is a story, a sense of something relating to the product or service, and not just words without much human interest.
Where Esso fails to convince, other brands have managed to capture the imagination of their stakeholders and are good to bear in mind when developing slogans or straplines for less well-known businesses. Not everyone will make it into a household name cited on wikipedia, but having a memorable and imaginative strapline can lighten up marketing banter and provide a step in the direction of brand advertising without having to explain in many words.
Once a slogan becomes synonymous with the meaning and essence a company tries to communicate, it becomes part of a brand and will be a useful tool for marketing and communications.
How to come up with a good strapline? Here are just some thoughts:

  1. KISS – Keep it simple stupid – as mentioned before, it’s a great rule for straplines. Anything complicated, long winded or hard to pronounce will be forgettable.
  2. Be real – don’t make promises you can’t keep. Emphasising strengths is one thing. Blatantly boasting or exaggerating usually won’t work long-term.
  3. Be human – use words we understand. Add some empathy, some feeling. It will go a long way.
  4. Be creative – don’t shy away from trying something new. Just avoid emblazoning it in the brickwork of your building until you are sure it is working for your brand!
  5. Be consistent – don’t have a new strapline every couple of months. Develop one and stick with it at least for the duration of a campaign or something you can measure the success of. There is no point keep changing a strapline if the issue is lying elsewhere.
  6. Be proud – don’t go for cheap laughs. Have a slogan you are happy to share and shout about. If it works, it will work wonders…

 

brand management, brand message, brand slogans, Brand Strategy, Branding

Saw this and it made me smile…

Brand Advert for Virgin Mobile
Speaking a brand’s language – visually and in the copy. Nice one.

Here is  just one of those nice ads that don’t try too hard and don’t try to be too clever, either.
I love the typography and the feeling they don’t take themselves too seriously, either. The Virgin brand at its best. Talks the language and has a light feel around it. Shame they still send me unsolicited mail every week which is irrelevant to myself and puts the brand values down a notch in my own mind.
 

advertising, brand language, brand message, Branding, typography

Another Brand Advert That Talks the Language of Land Rover

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu5rlsBzKEQ]
I came across this advert and I think it is another great example for using the language of a brand to get across the brand message. It’s simple, it’s not trying too hard and it even reminds of one of those student briefings for coming up with the essence of a brand and using it to create a memorable ad campaign.
Entertaining. And true to itself. I’d never drive one, but if I ever should need a cross country vehicle, I will probably start by looking at their brand.

Technorati Claim Token… N466NT9ZCNER

advertising, attitude, brand, brand loyalty, Branding

SME Branding Lesson #18 – Brands and Respect for Personal Space

It’s one of those things shoppers have to expect: You walk into a store and a shop assistant will ask you within seconds if they can help you. (When I first arrived in the UK, I was stumped but then quickly learned the phrase ‘no thanks, I am just browsing’.)

Street fund raisers
Chuggers or charity muggers and their effect on brands

Another regular occurrence of high street shopping is that a team of fundraisers will hustle you to appeal to your giving nature. This one is a particularly tough one because obviously the charities need to raise funds. However, there are different ways to go about it and I have come across groups of fund raisers who gathered at lunch time, swapped their branded vests and changed into another charity – it does border on insincerity and changes the image of philanthropy to hard core business.
More crazy though, every week, I get a letter from three household brands and, after more than five years of getting them now, it is definitely affecting the way I see their brand. Lloyds tries to give me a credit card, BT some phone line upgrade and Virgin anything that’s on their mind at the time. I subscribed to neither, and neither messages have ever hit me at a decision making point over a rather large ‘buying cycle’ period, which makes me question their effectiveness.
Yes, the old dogma of brand marketing used to be to ‘carpet bomb’ the consumer in the hope that a message would stick with a number of people which, despite being very small, would build the customer base that made the business worthwhile. We have moved on – and very select targeted advertising is possible now, but it seems it’s still too much effort or too scary for brands to throw away those huge direct mail data bases and find new, innovative means of brand communication.
It’s not just about shouting out messages at people, it feels like an invasion of personal space. Those brands, that have looked at other approaches to become embedded in the mind of their target market when it comes to the buying decision, will probably find the long-term benefit of not poking their nose into our every day life and let us come to them when we want something. It’s not just the power of the niché, it’s the power of the brand itself.

  • Educational approach – provide customers with practical, educational content, be it on your website, blog, via an app for smartphones, on social media platforms such as twitter or LinkedIn, appearances on seminars, exhibitions, in the press – you are the expert, so make sure other people can benefit from that. Yes, it’s a worry that the competition will ‘take inspiration’ from what you do, but you can’t run a business worrying about what they may or may not do; it’s much better to be the first one that wholeheartedly embraces the ‘sharing’ attitude and builds a name (brand) for themselves in their chosen field.
  • Subtle post sale marketing – Someone bought something from you, whehey! They get a receipt, and that’s probably it. Perhaps this is the point where they are open to find out a bit more about your magic product or service. Perhaps the receipt could be accompanied with a short message about related items of potential interest? Amazon’s ‘others also bought this’ system and derivatives are really effective and make sense if you consider the consumer being on a ‘shopping spree’ and open to suggestions.
  • Supporting causes, charities, events, fundraisers – it’s nothing new, but ‘giving back’ means free PR, great local exposure and a positive attitude towards your brand. It’s a win-win situation and doesn’t have to cost much.
  • Devising a strategy to reach the most relevant target market – this has a few advantages. Speaking from a designer’s heart, one obvious plus point is that the value of a very specifically targeted campaign item is much higher because of the better conversion rate. Thus, it is viable to invest proper time (and money) and the creation of a great piece of communication that will convince rather than grind down readers. Another one is the likelihood of recommendations and referrals. If I talk to those interested in my brand, chances are, they will appreciate the communication and remember to mention it with other like-minded people. Nobody really shouts about the local pizza menu thrown through the letterbox every week, but if you are a golfer and found a brand that provided you not only with great relevant products but also added value to your shopping experience by giving tips, insider tricks, offers, etc, you may very well tell your golfing friends about it.
To summarise, I believe personal space also applies to the way brands communicate with their clients and customers. Respect is key – as is relevancy and adding value.
I might just have to drag one of them charity workers to one side for a chat one day…

Brand Strategy, Branding, buying cycle, marketing effectiveness

M&S Launch a New ‘Basic’ Food Range – So Why Do I Feel Betrayed?

Simply M&S food brand
Cheap and M&S quality? And pigs are flying?

Aldi, Morrissons, Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, M&S, Waitrose – in my mind that is the ascending order of grocery stores in terms of cost and quality. I would never buy chicken in Aldi unless it is a free range product. I treat Asda as good for kid’s clothes, Tesco as everyday reliable, Sainsbury’s as a bit more fancy and Waitrose as expensive but special, reliable quality – with some good sushi. And M&S? Up until now I considered it as a shop for a mid-week treat, a quality ready meal, for own-branded products that are a bit more expensive than other grocery stores. A business aware of their corporate responsibility and choice of sourcing and ingredients.
It seems I will have to re-evaluate. M&S this week launched Simply M&S, a new range of ‘basic’ products, 800 in Autumn, at budget prices. There may be good reasons for this decision, faced with the double dipped economy, stronger competition among food suppliers and the need for brands such as Waitrose and M&S to gain new customers.
But why pick that strap line – “M&S quality now at prices you’ll love” – ??? I can’t help but feel betrayed! Was I not supposed to love their prices before? Did they not spend all this time  convincing me that they are worth the extra money? I just can’t imagine what this will say about their existing ranges – let alone for their Marks and Spencer Simply Food stores at service stations.
I guess it’s another ‘let’s see’ situation and I may find myself deeply infatuated with the new budget brand – or it may be the end of a love affair.

brand extensions, Branding

A Purely Pure Brand Ad – And Why It Works

20120509-204401.jpg

If you didn’t know this brand, you’d be none the wiser having read this advert. It is as such a lovely example for why this type of advertising can only work for established brands or those who can pre-empt or follow-up with a campaign that creates the connection and link to the brand and product.
It also showcases how it has become common practice for companies to utilise charities to make a statement, show that they care, support and ‘give back’ — the essence of corporate responsibility.
For this particular brand it works because it doesn’t try too hard, it doesn’t even attempt to obviously mix this fundraising initiative with messages about their product directly, and it visually speaks the language of the brand, adding to its story and its roots rather than trying to be controversial/contradicting for the sake of some short lived attention.
Even in their choice of charity, the brand positions itself among a certain demographic and engages without pushing the product directly.
That’s the magic adverts as good as this one come with in the long-run.
Something to aim for…

advertising, Branding

A Fashion Item to Chew On

It’s a far stretch in my mind, but it seems the creators of Kellogg’s are the next brand to enter the world of fashion. Their first special edition designer handbag by Australian fashion designer Kirrily Johnston was announced this week.
It does have a pocket for holding the Special K snack bar but I am somewhat bemused and curious if this will be a sell out or just a fad…

Kelloggs special k handbag
What if I put my Mars Bar in the pocket?!

The cost of the handbag, which is made from calf leather and has a handcrafted detachable tassel for a key ring, is around $750 and I will be really interested to see who will buy this. At this price point, is a cereal brand really attractive enough to make a woman who could spend that money on an established handbag or fashion brand to splash out on the Kellogg’s handbag?
Maybe they will and it’s genius. Maybe they won’t and it will move to the section of ‘brand extensions that didn’t work out’.

brand extension, Brand Strategy, Branding, product development

Levi Roots Has a Brand Message…

Sometimes I feel like officially complaining about the undervalued state of the branding and design industry.
Lament lament – every now and again the BBC does us a favour.
In the latest episode of The Apprentice – You’re Fired, Levi Roots explains that it was all wrong because of the marketing and the branding. Not just about the spelling mistake of the brand name, but about the visual messages not coming across.

Bellissimo Spelling mistake
Cringe factor. Wrong brand. Wrong brand message. - Photo from BBC

Levi nicely pointed out the importance of a professional image especially when dealing with other businesses in the trade industry.
Levi-Roots-on-Branding
They didn't get the message across.

Thank you Mister BBC and Levi Roots! Apart from the entertainment, it is very nice to be in a sector that once in a while is appreciated as a key factor in the success of a business. Made my day!

brand management, Branding, typography

SME Branding Lesson #12 – To Brand or Not to Brand…

… advertise that is the question.

I recently came across an article written by a marketing expert that suggests SMEs spending time and money on branding really are wasting their time. As I read on, I realised that he may have simplified the subject and based his conclusion on comparing brand advertising versus direct response advertising as parts of a marketing strategy for SMEs.
Pretty much all major fashion, lifestyle and consumer goods brands practice a mixture of both, but we probably mostly remember them for their brand advertisements.  Distinct imagery, a clever tag line, sometimes just an image and a logo – welcome to the very different sibling of  direct response advertising.

Miu Miu Advertising Campaign
Showcasing the brand. Then the product.

It’s an investment. It’s not instant gratification. It’s hard to track and hard to justify, but it seems to be working for the big boys. So why shouldn’t SMEs do the same?
Brand advertising is not meant to sell a product or service directly to a potential customer. Brand advertising skillfully nurtures potential buyers by keeping your name and what your business stands for in the mind of the consumers so when they eventually get to make a buying decisions, your brand is one of the few they will consider.
As such, it may take months for a campaign to show results. Equally, it will take repeated appearances of adverts – but in my mind most importantly, companies that successfully use brand advertising have spent years if not decades building up a public perception of their brand and their values so now they ‘simply’ have to reinforce this perception and introduce the next generation of customers to their brand.
I believe this is the major reason why it won”t work as effectively for local SMEs as a means of getting new business. Even if you had the money to place large double spread adverts in the local paper with little more than your logo and strap line on, chances are, people just won’t know your brand enough to understand.

A Case of Benetton

Benetton baby brand advert
Not seen before. In the 90s this had shock value. And it positioned the Benetton brand.

In 1993, clothing company Benetton launched a campaign for their new range featuring images such as a ‘branded’ HIV victim, a newborn, a guy on death row, a dying seagull bathed in black oil, soldier’s graves – basically anything you and I may consider boarder line fascinating / scandalous / tasteless.
Benetton HIV ad
Talking about tabu subjects when nobody else did. The Benetton brand had their own strategy for leaving an impression

Benetton have continued over the years to use their brand to raise awareness of social and environmental issues. They are doing it again now with their ‘UNHATE‘ campaign featuring politicians kissing. Somewhat easier to digest than those older campaigns, they still use shock to create attention for their brand.
Benetton UnHate Merkel Brand Advert
Just one of the series of adverts featuring kissing politicians. In Germany, we called it the 'Bruderkuss' and it was for real!

However, they don’t exclusively advertise like that. There are also specific sub brand advertising campaigns featuring clothes. Brightly coloured, fun and happy – a stark contrast to their other campaigns.
Benetton brand advert
Bright is beautiful. A lighter advertising campaign by Benetton.

What Benetton have achieved is to create an almost instinctual understanding within us about what they represent. This didn’t happen just by placing a series of brand adverts. It’s the result of lots of background activity to instill their values and opinions in the public mind – be it on the environment, RFID technology and Turkish child labour or denim sand blasting practice.
Without the strength and backup of a global advertising campaign programme that runs over many months and communicates your business clearly to the masses, your money will probably be better spent in a more direct approach to gaining new customers.

Creatively Direct

I guess one way to distinguish direct response from brand advertising is the more explicit connection between the advert and the product or service. There may be an offer or incentive, there may be a clear call to action, a listing of features or a value proposition and a strong emphasis on communicating the selling points/differentiation from competitors.
That does not mean it has to be or appear boring, with lots of copy and little ‘white space’ to let the brand identity speak as well as the product. There are some amazing direct response campaigns out there and the web hosts perhaps far more than print advertising at the moment because of the immediacy of possible reactions a mouse click away.
tontine pillow adverts
Levis_curve_1
Dove Direct response ad

Tridos direct response ad

Out of the Question

Going back to the earlier statement of branding being a waste of time for SMEs, I think nothing could be further from the truth. (I have actually just recently written about why I believe SMEs should bother to spend time and money on branding.)
Whilst SMEs may benefit easier and more measurably from response-driven advertising, it’s the branding activities that do the heavy-lifting, that establish a business in the mind of the consumer, influencing buying and response decisions.
Relying on direct sales marketing alone is short sighted. You only need one new local player on the market who is mastering their brand management and without having invested in creating loyalty to your brand, they have every opportunity to take over your position.
A thought-through strategy to get your business present on the market and positioned where you want it to be is as important as the right mixture of branding and marketing activities. You may not be a global brand, but there are lots of local small business brands that shine and there is no reason why yours can’t be one of them.

advertising, Brand Strategy, Branding, SME

What is a brand audit and why should you have one?

Whilst we are all familiar with the terms ‘financial audit’ or ‘tax audit’, there is some confusion and mystery surrounding a brand audit. It is quite a simple concept if you accept that your brand has a value that can and should be managed and increased over time – an asset of your business just like your production facilities, finance and human resources.
The trickier bit is the actual execution of a brand audit.
A typical cycle could be described as this:

Typical cycle of a brand audit
A typical cycle of a brand audit

It may seem a bit daunting how to start the process. I like the analogy my friend Maria Ana uses when she talks about how to start a brand audit, comparing it to planing a trip.
So here is a quick picture journey describing the first step. Once all this information is collected, a brand consultancy will be able to scope the project costs, tools and timelines and get the ball rolling.
A brand audit is a journey
Where do you want to go (tomorrow)?

What is the destination
Do you have a specific problem you wish to answer with this brand audit?

Who will join you
Who's involved in the brand audit? Are they able to take part in meetings and workshops to aid the research process?

What are the time scales?
Is this a quick turnaround or a more complex project which benefit for more time intensive research, such as university studies?

Economy, business or first class?
What budget can you assign to this project? This is the missing piece in the jigsaw of selecting the tools and methods of the brand audit.

What’s in your suitcase?
Depending on the objective of the audit, time scales and budgets, a brand consultancy can start putting together the tools and methodologies to complete the audit with the best possible brand insights and recommendations.

There are many components of the actual audit, which brandingstrategyinsider describes as the following:
COMMUNICATIONS REVIEW

  • Advertising and promotion materials
  • Other brand marketing elements: pricing, packaging, merchandising, distribution, direct marketing, sponsorships, flagship stores, etc.
  • Press kit
  • Press releases
  • Sales collateral materials
  • Internal communications
  • Business cards, letterheads, etc.
  • Website
  • Intranet site
  • Employee training programs
  • Employee orientation
  • Manager training
  • Sales force training

I would also add (this list is a few years old now) the whole subject of social media and how the brand is exposed via social marketing and even phone apps.
EXTERNAL INFORMATION SOURCE REVIEW

  • Competitors’ press releases, advertising and promotion
  • Industry analyst reports
  • Customer comments
  • Business partner comments
  • Marketing vendor interviews

HUMAN RESOURCE SYSTEMS REVIEW

  • Organisation charts
  • Department mission/vision statements
  • Department objectives
  • Common objectives
  • Recruiting criteria
  • Individual competency dictionary
  • Succession planning criteria
  • Planning and resource allocation systems/processes

STRATEGY REVIEW

  • Business plans
  • Marketing plans
  • Brand positioning statement
  • Brand plans
  • Creative (or agency) briefs
  • Media plans

MARKETING RESEARCH REVIEW

  • Brand positioning research
  • Brand asset studies
  • Brand equity measurement system (awareness, preference, usage, value, accessibility, relevance, differentiation, vitality, emotional connection, loyalty, associations, personality)
  • Brand extension research
  • Product/service concept testing
  • Logo recall & recognition testing

EMPLOYEE INTERVIEWS

  • Corporate officer interviews
  • Marketing employee interviews
  • Sales force interviews
  • Customer service employee interviews
  • Front line customer contact interviews
  • General employee interviews

PROPRIETARY BRAND RESEARCH

  • Brand asset research
  • Brand equity research
  • Brand positioning research (qualitative and quantitative)

PHEW, what a list! It is complex and it quickly shows that a brand audit is a process that will take time – but Rome – and those big brands we all know- were not built in a day and not by one single person either.
A brand consultancy will guide you through a program that is tailored specifically to your objectives and will give you the insights to define and deploy a strategy for change.
So why should you do it?
Typically, a brand audit will:
–      give an insight into your brand architecture/business structure and portfolio
–      help to connect your visual communication efforts with financial returns
–      discover and assess your market positioning
–      define your brand stakeholders and competition
–      improve brand management and marketing
–      assist in securing and enhancing the value of your brand
I think that these days the value of increasing brand equity is much more apparent and thankfully so is the need for keeping track of your brand performance as much as you keep track of all other important aspects of your business.

brand, brand audit, Brand Strategy, Branding

Enter The Thinking Hotel

brand strategy in the making
A collaborative journey to define the thinking hotel

I’ve been to London on Saturday to take part in a prototype day for ‘The Thinking Hotel’, an initiative to develop a brand strategy business model run by Maria Ana Neves and her colleagues.
Hidden away in London’s busy West End is ‘the loft’, a friendly, trendy meeting space that hosted the event. We checked in midday and went through a series of mini workshops to define The Thinking Hotel’s brand personality, typical character of a customer, the actual customer journey and the influences of trends based on the current state of politics, the economy, social behaviour etc.
It was creative thinking and collaborating at its best. Sharing thoughts with other makes you realise how many different angles there are to even the most basic problem or task. How important in terms of branding it is to really dig deep and understand who you are talking to and what you are trying to say. How if there is no clear strategy behind a brand, there is no real substance and the whole identity becomes a house of cards ready to be blown over. Equally, how powerful a business can become by employing a design-led, creative strategy to engage with their customers/clients and thrive by having a holistic model of communication.
I was very much focused on the actual ‘container’ the name suggested, eg you arrive at a proper physical building, check in, go to your room and through a series of events pre-defined to take you on your journey.
What I learned very quickly is that as a model it can work a much more varied number of ways – a collaboration portal that you enter online? A mixture of online and offline meetings? Something from creative thinkers for creative thinkers? Or for corporations who are stuck in their ways? A spa for the mind? Or an adventure day out for the mind? Something you pay for? Something you pay for with ideas?
It will be great to see the outcome of the workshop, what the other participants made of it and how The Thinking Hotel will take shape as a business.
Congratulations to Maria Ana for once again pushing the conventional practices of brand strategy and developing new tools to help both creative thinkers and business owners keep up with the 21st Century.

Brand Strategy, Branding, creative collaborations

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