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Sustainable brand development
Sustainable brand development


Buck the mood - be positive

The Brexit vote and the US presidential election have left a significant degree of pessimism and negativity due to a high level of uncertainty – uncertainty politically, economically and socially. In such an environment commercial organisations tend to delay action until they have a better idea of what the future holds. They are reluctant to invest resources in activities believing there is a high risk of failure. But it has been proven time and again that organisations that are positive and proactive in difficult economic times are the ones that benefit most in the long term.

All organisations operate in a very competitive environment. Establishing an advantage, even a small one, over the competition can reap great rewards. So, the best time to act to gain that advantage is when competitors are waiting for better times before they act. In this way an organisation can steal a march on their rivals for anything between three months and a year. This has the potential to have a significant positive impact on sales and revenue in the short-term. And there are numerous case studies that reveal that companies that invest in downturns come out of the trough in a much better shape than those who didn’t and that effect can last for a long time after the commercial environment improves.

Action can have important psychological benefits too. Employees, who may be feeling a little insecure at the moment, will respond very positively when they see the organisation proactively developing. It will lift the mood in the organisation which, in turn, will improve productivity.

Proactivity won’t be lost on customers either. They notice organisations that are pushing forward and innovating which makes them think the organisation is doing well. They will talk positively about the organisation leading to more customers and increased sales.

It’s all too easy to fall into the doom and gloom trap. A virtuous circle exists for those organisations that buck the trend and don’t fall into the trap: positivity leads to action which leads to competitive advantage which leads to a better working environment and more committed customers which leads to higher revenue.

Go on…be positive!
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EasyDo, a multi-national cleaning product company whose main brand is the ubiquitous Dishmatic, asked us to create a new corporate identity. It had to be clear and easy to read, capable of being used across a multitude of media and be truly international. The result answers the brief perfectly.
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It’s all about the package
It’s getting close to the London Mayoral elections. Who to vote for? The mainstream parties used to propose a range of policies, some good some not so good, that were all derived from their overriding philosophy. Now that they are vying for the sacred middle ground, many of their policies are governed by political opportunism that is obscuring any real differences.
The political scene is crying out for a party whose policies are grounded in a strong philosophy that its supporters really believe in, are sensible, practical and down-to-earth, and is not bathed in neoliberalism.
Such a party exists. At the last general election the policies put forward by the Green Party were consistently more popular than those of the mainstream parties when not labelled to a particular party. But the Greens only achieved 3.8% of the vote. Why is that?
Whilst the Green Party has developed significantly since its early days the way the majority of people perceive it has not. It is still considered to be hippyish, supported by wearers of anoraks and open-toed sandals and essentially a single issue party. By consistently putting out the right messages, perceptions can change but progress will be very slow. The process needs a kick start and the most effective one is to undergo a rebranding exercise.
The Green Party was founded in 1973 by a group wanting all government policies to have an ecological perspective. It was called the People Party. The name was changed in 1975 to the Ecology Party and again in 1990 to the Green Party. Its policies have always been firmly rooted in the environmental movement and, as such, has often been labelled a single issue party.
Whilst climate change is probably the most important issue the world faces today, and the one the Green Party takes its name from, it does not engage the electorate. However, numerous studies claim the Millennial generation is more concerned with environmental issues than previous geneations. So, perhaps the tide is turning in favour of the Green Party but I believe, to take full advantage of the opportunity it has to rebrand.
The rebranding exercise would involve exploring a new purpose statement which will provide the basis for a new name and logo. The objective of the exercise would be to give the party more mass appeal, especially for the younger electorate; position it away from being perceived as a single issue party; and give it more gravitas to challenge the mainstream parties. In short, to make it a more appealing package – a package that could have a major impact on the result of the London Mayoral elections in four year’s time and the next general election.
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Creating a meaningful corporate identity - Ten Top Tips

1. Good reason – have a good reason to create a new corporate identity because it is of significant importance to any organisation. If you are a start-up you definitely need one. If you have one but think you need a new one the reason must be sound – any doubt don’t do it

2.  Know what the process involves – the creative is just one small part of changing an identity. It involves a lot of honest soul-searching, in-depth analysis of the company, and changing all the branded elements of the company. It should not be undertaken lightly

3.  Take your time – as it is such an important exercise, it should not be rushed. Consider each step carefully, taking into account the views of all key stakeholders but, at the same time, maintain momentum for the project – don’t let it slide, as refocusing is often hard and non-productive

4.  Seek independent advice – whenever necessary seek the advice of agencies and individuals outside of the organisation. It is difficult to see the wood for the trees within your own company and often takes an outsider to point it out. In particular, the research conducted to identify the essence and personality of the company should be undertaken by an external agency

5.  Define company positioning – the research helps inform the company positioning – how the organisation is to be positioned in the market in which it competes, the company raison d’etre and personality.  This is the foundation stone for a new identity – get this right and the identity will be right

6.  Naming should not be difficult – if you don’t have a name and are struggling to come up with one, don’t beat yourself up over it. Names are not as important as most people think. Whilst some company names are brilliant the vast majority are not but even the bad ones become accepted within a surprisingly short space of time

7.  Colours are important – many industries have established colourways that most companies competing in it adopt. Thorough research will identify these. Sometimes it’s right to follow these rules, sometimes not. Should you conform or disrupt? – it becomes a judgment call!

8.  Have a good application vision – make sure the design agency that works on your identity, at a fairly early stage in the process, presents a vision of how the new logo will be applied to all elements in the communication mix. Be clear in your own head of this vision

9.  Don’t be too subjective – it’s very easy, especially when it’s your company, your baby, for opinions to become clouded by your personal views. It’s good to have a vision and to be passionate but it’s also important to take a ‘step back’ and try to view the new identity objectively.

10.Create guidelines – a comprehensive set of brand guidelines will guarantee consistency. They will cost you money but without them all the hard work that goes into creating a new identity can be wasted the first time it is used 
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Ten Top Tips

Creating designs that work

1.  What is the purpose of the piece? – define and be very clear about the purpose of the item that is to be designed. Don’t fall into the trap of asking an item to do too much – a user guide should never be expected to generate sales 

2.  Defined target audience – the style, content, imagery and copy style are fundamentally important to any commercial creative work. Carefully define the audience trying to make it as tight as possible

3.  Know what needs to be communicated – know what you want the item to communicate. A company identity will want to communicate the products/services of the company; a sales brochure will convey what is on offer. Supply the copy, but if no copy has been written, provide all the background information for the design company to write or arrange to be written

4.  Strong images – the old cliché ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is true providing it is the right picture. Not only does a good picture communicate a lot it also makes an item interesting and arresting. Supply images if you have them or ask the design company to source them for you. It is an extra expense, but money worth spending, to commission a photographer to take a series of appropriate photos

5.  Creative style – if you need to work to a set of brand guidelines pass a copy to the design company. Likewise if you have an idea of what the item should look like pass your thoughts on, or leave it to the design team to come up with a design

6.  Realistic budget – work out how much you have to spend on the activity and inform the agency of the budget. If you don’t know what an item should cost to design, ask the agency for a ballpark figure before the work is commissioned and if you have the budget then ask for a detailed estimate

7.  Deadline – let the design company know when you require the item then get the company to work out a timeline working backwards from the deadline. This will flag up what needs to be done by when and when your input is required

8.  Concise brief – all the above tips should be included in a concise brief. Any relevant background information should be supplied as appendices to the brief. If you don’t have a written brief a verbal brief is OK but you should note down the salient points against which the design work can be judged

9.  Have your say – any creative ideas you have should be shared with the design company but they may not always think they have mileage so please don’t be precious

10.Momentum – no matter how busy you are try to keep the creative and implementation processes moving – momentum is important to keep all parties fresh and on the ball
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Creating an effective marketing campaign - Ten Top Tips

1.  Why am I doing this? – analyse why you want to do the marketing campaign answering the question honestly and frankly

2.  Strategic positioning – all marketing activity should follow the company/brand strategic positioning. The strategic positioning determines how the company/brand is to be positioned in the market, its personality, tone of voice etc.

3.  Single-minded objective – the objective must be single-minded, easy to understand and must be referred back to throughout the process of development and implementation to ensure the objective is achieved. Don’t fall into the trap of wanting the activity to achieve too much

4.  Clear brief – write a clear, concise brief but add as appendices as much background information as you have so that the creative agency develops a good understanding of your business/brand, industry, competition etc.  

5.  Realistic budget – work out how much you have to spend on the activity and inform the agency of the budget. If you don’t know the cost of marketing activities, ask the agency for a ballpark figure before the work commences

6.  Pitching? – if you don’t have a relationship with a creative agency it is a good idea to hold a pitch but invite no more than four agencies – there is no creative benefit in seeing more and it is very time consuming. If you do have a good relationship with an agency, use them - they will have a good understanding of your business, know how you work and it will save you a lot of time in briefing

7.  Be responsive – when creative work is presented by the agency give some instant feedback but give more detailed feedback after a period of consideration. The instant feedback more closely represents the response time the target audience has whereas the reflective feedback should be more considered and set against the campaign objectives

8.  Momentum – no matter how busy you are try to keep the creative and implementation processes moving – momentum is important to keep all parties fresh and on the ball

9.  Collective thinking – great creative work comes from good teamwork. Work with the creative agency, recommend and suggest, but remember where the strengths and skills lie, you in company/brand/market knowledge, the agency in creativity

10.Measure and review – measure the effectiveness of the campaign against the objective after a specified length of time. Conduct a review of the process, amend any elements that are not quite working, and take note of any learnings to input into the next campaign 
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Smart move by Zoopla to create a charater of 'Smart' in their latest ad campaign
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Lovely comment from a client just before Xmas: "Someone just sent me a Christmas email and it made me think I haven’t sent any so I prepared a list …. And you’re it! Honestly, you are the two people I most want to thank for a job well done this year as always and wish you and your families a great Christmas and Happy New Year.
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Another brilliant Xmas ad from John Lewis
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Our latest Ten Top Tips, this one on digital marketing, available by contacting me on Google+
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