Designing & Implementing the Brand

Design the brand. The most obvious first place to start is a logo and it’s the most obvious first place to fail.

What we’re all guilty of is to pick/design a logo we like rather than one which helps communicate the brand proposition. We’ve talked in other articles here about Brand Truth, Trust, Slogans and promises. You must be true to your brand and the logo, is the most highly visible part of it. It appears everywhere. Everyone will see it, so you need to get it right. By that we mean, design and advertising needs to reflect on what you’re trying to say – what you want the customer to know about you and not because it looks nice. That’s irrelevant.

If for example, you’re a low-cost operator then don’t make your logo or advertising, fancy. It shouldn’t be gold and beautiful, it should be simple and plain, communicating that as a low-cost operator, you don’t spend big money on your logo. That’s the message low cost needs to send. Whereas, if you’re a high premium aspirational brand, it should be gold and beautiful, not plain, and simple.

And if you’re a first Media Buying platform, like Admatic, we use fish to explain that like the fish, we swim against the tide (!). That’s the idea anyway.

Your logo design must reflect the proposition. It must help you on your communication journey. When people see the logo, they should get a sense of what you’re about.

Now a logo is one thing, but by designing it correctly, should give you a colour palette which you can apply in-store, on vans, advertising, leaflets and so on. That’s called design continuity – the application of the logo (the proposition) throughout the business. And you need to control that, by becoming what’s often called, the ‘Brand Champion’. Nothing publicly gets out there, unless it fits in your Brand guidelines.

That’s not to say, brand guidelines should hamstring you as they’re often foolishly applied without thought. How often we’ve heard, “it’s not on brand” which is trotted out to reject work in a meaningless way. Sometimes we might deviate slightly and that’s okay if it makes business sense. Remember, a brand is a living breathing thing and so things will change. You need some brand flexibility.

But generally, where you can, keep an eye on applying the brand.

Spend the time too, to ‘mock it up’. In other words, get the designer to show large visuals across a variety of design needs, so you can look at them in-store or in your business before you move forward. They might look good on paper but take the trouble to see it all in as much ‘real life’ as you can at this stage. Take the time. It’s not a bad idea to take time to stare at the design over a few days before pushing the green button.

Live with it for a while but be careful sharing it, you’ll get disheartening objections from colleagues who’ll say, ‘I don’t like it’.

“I don’t like it” doesn’t matter, because the question is, does it do the job we want it to do? Does it communicate the proposition?

Implementing the Brand.

Once we have a brand proposition, a slogan, a design, you now need to apply it.

The first place you do that is with the staff, the workforce, the team. These are your frontline brand in action. What you’re doing will create pride in the workforce. It will encourage them and make them proud to be part of it. Or it should.

Good branding, good advertising is motivating. An Advertising campaign that creates talkability, can really motivate staff as their friends tell them they love it too. Their chests go out.

Explain to all the team, what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and take sensible feedback so you can tweak it. But be clear because you must have the team on board and especially, those who’ll sell to, or face, your customers. They need to know the proposition, the slogan, by heart and believe in it. They are your brand too and your first target audience.

Now look at all the items you need to apply the brand too and a sensible timetable, because nothing happens overnight. Just because it’s been left to the last minute, don’t rush it. You’re going to be stuck with it for many years.

Perhaps it’s a timetable for the website, the vans, uniforms, Point of sale material, brochureware, signage, shop fronts and so on, list it all out. Again, where you can, mock it up in real life demos and see it in action. For example, do one van design in real size, look at it and tweak it.

Don’t deviate from the core idea but work around the edges to make the van even better. Mock-up a sign, apply it in the Reception temporarily and tweak it in real size. Design a website offline cheaply, see how that works.

So, where you can, apply your design to size and then you’ll have no surprises plus production/design people may contribute here and make suggestions. The van manufacturer may show you good reasons why the design can’t go over windows for example. Or the sign maker may explain how it can’t be seen at night. The website designer should make suggestions. Contributions, not criticisms to make it better.

On a timetable, the customer facing items take priority, so start from there and of course, it’s all about budget. Do what you can but focus on the customer facing elements first.

Launching the Brand.

The launch of your proposition, slogan, advertising and designs and so on, is always best served by having a knees-up.

A function where you gather stakeholders (Shareholders, Directors, Staff, Journalists perhaps) and think cleverly to make it exciting! Perhaps it’s held in a venue that reflects what you’re doing that’s a bit novel? Perhaps it has a bit of mystery and perhaps, a spokesperson that reflects your proposition? But have a launch. Unveil the strategy. Create excitement.

However, be ready to tackle your target customers next day after launch because you should be ready to go. Have a mailing ready to explain the change and possibly start a PR campaign to communicate your new messaging. Possibly some on-street activity or in-store hand-outs. Some digital activity, launch the new website and of course, for the first time we’re mentioning now, do some Advertising.

Oh, and yes, do Advertising.

Hopefully we’ve got you to a place where you understand Advertising is the last on the list, not the first. Now we can make sense of it and now we can be clear about what you are communicating. As we said at the start, by going through this process means the Advertising is easier. You know what you’re doing now and so you know what your Advertising needs to say. By being clear, you’ll get better Advertising.

That’s not to say your Advertising should be bland and ordinary – absolutely not – but it should be on message.

It should communicate and therefore sell your promise clearly.

We always think that the best place to start to produce good Advertising is a poster. They’re smaller spaces and force you to think clearer. They’re clear, easy to work around and so it’s often said with Outdoor posters, “he who runs may read”. In other words, it forces an Advertising discipline to communicate messages clearly, quickly, and easily. If you can get a poster to work, you’ll get everything else to work too.

Advertising Elements.

Start with developing a slogan, a logo, and a clear brand position. We know what we want to say and as we said earlier, if the proposition is strong enough, the role of Advertising is simply to create awareness of it. All you’re trying to do is to tell people about it.

Make them aware what you have or what you’re doing. That’s the first role of Advertising – to inform. Never forget that – inform customers as to what your brand stands for. Don’t cloud it in contrived ‘creative’ advertising. In time, you can push that advertising envelope once you’ve established the brand.

So now what you’re looking for is a headline and a visual that conveys your concept. A headline is a short message (not unlike a slogan) but words that tell your story quickly. But again, think of your target customer – what they’d like, the language they use. You talk to people like they talk to themselves and that may mean, incorrect grammar, street slang. Or a term that’s in daily use.

You’re not crafting a literary novel, you’re talking with people. Don’t be pretentious, just say it.

Intrigue them with a headline that makes them want to read. I defy you not to read these! You want to, you have to.

Make it visual, easy to immediately understand but make them think.

The visual (picture/s on a poster) is something that helps convey your proposition too. In other words, when I look at it, it says something to me about your promise, what you’re about. It sucks you in.

A picture can tell a thousand stories and make it interesting because after all, that’s the trick of ‘cut through’- It doesn’t matter what you’re saying, if no one wants to read it. Think about that. If no one is interested enough in your Advertising, it’s all wasted because they don’t get the message. None of it matters. Not the brand, the proposition, the customer insights, the new product innovation. All of it wasted if you can’t communicate it properly.

So, you need to entice, to entertain.  And remember too customers are bombarded with Advertising messages today like never before. Make yours, stand out. If it does, you’ll need to spend less on Advertising. And in today’s Social Media conflaboration, it’ll be shared for free. Enthuse your audience.

Nivea crème is for nights and visually you can see that. McDonalds have free Wi-Fi which at the time, was a competitive advantage. Fed Ex deliver across the world, easily. Chupa Chups are sugar free. And Colgate dental floss is better than picking strawberry pips from your teeth (an Ad from Y&R Panama in fact).

But there’s a clear proposition here. Like, choose McDonalds because they have free Wi-Fi. It’s a striking visual that helps communicates the proposition but to get what’s called ‘cut through’, it needs to be interesting or that horrible word, ‘engaging’. Engaging means involving the reader into the Advertising – almost that they want to stop and look. Try and stop them in their tracks. Get them to read or listen.

When you think, you’ll hopefully see how easy it will be to translate those concepts into TV commercials or Radio Commercials or Digital video or Press Ads. If you can, you’re on the right Advertising path.

But when you look at Advertising, again always mock them up and always look at 2/3 directions.

Go from safe, to ‘off the wall’ but look at them all.

Safe and simple is really appropriate at launch stage. Stretch the advertising at stage 2 or stage 3 but look at it now and then, where the advertising could go.

That’s good because it shows it’s working and called ‘brand stretch’. It shows what Admen say, that the campaign “has legs”. It’s working, it’s beautiful and it’s on message.

Insight from Tom Fishburne on Brand Strategy: “Many brand architectures are full of insider marketing lingo that makes them seem ridiculous. A brand model is most valuable when it’s easily understood by everyone on the team. It should pass the ‘Teller Test,’ meaning that frontline branch staff should be able to understand the brand from reading it.”