Tag Archive: brand strategy

  1. The Creative Brief: A Map of Your Brand’s Creative Journey

    creative brief

     

    The creation of a coherent brand strategy can be a long and winding journey. The process involves making decisions on the tangible aspects of your brand (logo, color palette, typography, tone, messaging, etc.), but it also includes considering the intangibles (perceptions and emotions) associated with your brand. This process takes a great deal of time and thought. A solid creative brief can act as an invaluable map and guide along this journey, as well as the blueprint for any successful rebrand, website launch, campaign, video, photoshoot, etc. Simply stated, a creative brief is a document that outlines all of the project details, deliverables, strategy, objectives and goals. It should also include background information about the company, competition, audience, and many other elements.

    To provide context, our proposals contain a section called, “What we heard you say.” This section serves as an explanation of, from our perspective, the needs, wants and goals that were expressed by the client. A creative brief is essentially a detailed and outlined representation of “What we heard you say.” This helps tie the client and internal teams together on the wants and goals of the project so that we, as the agency, can meet the expectations of the client. A creative brief provides context to the developers, copywriters, designers, and other team members on what to consider when crafting ideas and developing concrete elements of a brand.

    At Findsome & Winmore, we rely heavily on a creative brief prior to the start of every project, so it’s extremely important that we get it right. Not only does a creative brief set expectations between client and agency, it also creates transparency and clarity. It is the account manager’s job to extract every detail and piece of information from the client. Having a clear understanding of the brand, vision, scope and goals of the project from top to bottom sets the team (both client and agency) up for success.

    Because we base our creative brief on your (the client’s) beliefs about your brand and/or product and long-term goals, it’s important to know what you should be thinking of and conscious of regarding your brand. Doing so helps us with the strategic heavy lifting in order to get your project to the finish line.

    Before the start of a project, there are a number of important questions we ask of our clients that help us paint a coherent picture of their brand:

    • Why should your customer buy a product, use a service, or consume your content?
    • What is your brand or product’s message?
    • Who is your target audience?
    • What are your brand’s values? What’s negotiable and what is not?
    • What is unique about your product or service?
    • How does this product or service support our brand identity?
    • Who is your competition and why?
    • Why will your audience believe your promise?
    • What is the value that you promise to deliver to the consumer?

    The above questions cut to the core of your brand and have clear connections to establishing what makes it tick. However, we like to ask additional questions that, though somewhat silly, help us shape a clear character and imbue your company with something equally valuable: a coherent, believable persona. Some of these fun questions include:

    • If your brand was a car what would it be?
    • If your brand was a restaurant, what would it be?
    • If your brand was a celebrity who would it be?
    • If your brand was a song what would it be?

    Remember, your brand is more than just your logo – branding takes place at every touch point or anytime a customer/client interacts or thinks about your brand. In reality, branding is controlled by your customers – it’s how the consumer perceives you. A creative brief helps keep authenticity and consistency within your brand and project. It should answer the questions of purpose, mission, vision, customer motivation, etc. of your business or product. Being able to communicate this information is a crucial step to writing a solid creative brief. As an agency, it is important for us to understand your vision and goals in order to effectively execute the project.

    The final (crucial) step of the process is your (the client’s) approval of the brief. Client review and ultimate approval are instrumental in the success of the project. Keep in mind, the approval that we look for at this point is of the direction, not the creative itself. This “sign off” is key to establishing a clear understanding and it ensures that there are no “unknowns” within the project. Your approval is our green light to get started on the project, using the brief as our guide.

    Below, you’ll find a resource that I hope will help generate some thoughts while planning your next project so that you can enter the kick-off phase with confidence. Just remember, together, we can develop a creative brief that coherently and succinctly embodies your brand and helps us move forward using the same “map” of the creative journey.

  2. Daring to Be Different: The Brand Strategy That Sets the Successful Apart

    brand strategy

     

    The black sheep gets blamed for a lot – being a loner, nonconformist, or contrarian. Through researching some of the most successful companies in the world, I’ve found that the black sheep is often one other thing: an example of what every brand should dare to be – different.

    In my latest book on effective marketing strategy, Formulaic: How Thriving Companies Market From the Core, I took a look at a brand that has a special place in my…stomach: Chobani, the Greek yogurt giant. Though it may now be a staple in the yogurt aisle of your favorite major grocer, it wasn’t so long ago that the idea of Chobani making a splash in the US was laughed off as an impossibility.

    Through the doubters and naysayers, Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of Chobani, knew that his brand’s secret ingredient would provide the push the company needed to break through: the courage to be different than the competition. To dare to be the black sheep.

    The Difference That Being Different Makes

    Chobani, at the time of its debut in 2005, was a bit of an anomaly. In a market lead by non-Greek yogurts chock-full of artificial ingredients, Mr. Ulukaya decided to take another path. Bringing America the distinct flavor of Greek yogurt made with high-quality, natural ingredients and produced at Chobani-owned factories instead of outsourcing the product, as many others had. Within about 10 years, Chobani crossed the $1 billion dollar revenue milestone – not too shabby for the black sheep of the yogurt-making family.

     

    brand strategy

    Chobani never uses artificial preservatives, opting for natural ingredients

    So, does this mean that all you have to be is a contrarian to find success in your market? Well, not quite. Chobani’s brand strategy wasn’t born out of a desire to be different for the sake of being different. These pioneering practices in the yogurt industry were based on a belief that this was a better way to create a higher-quality product that people wanted. There was an opening in the market just waiting for a company like Chobani to have the courage to fill it – to do something markedly against the grain because the status quo was lacking what Chobani could bring to the industry.

    Strategically different companies, like Chobani, can find success where other, more conformist companies fail for one simple reason: differentiators make all the…well, difference, in the world. Chobani had the courage to crack wise about ingredients like “Purple #40” in many traditional yogurts, despite it being the “norm” to use these ingredients. This brand strategy caused them to take center stage and break away from the pack – something highly valuable for any company in a crowded market.

    Lessons Learned, One Spoonful at a Time

    What can your brand glean from Chobani’s success story? Well, if there’s one thing I’ve pulled from my research, it’s that brands need to be bold. Find out what makes your brand, product, and process different, and shine a light on it – whether it’s the unique way your company manufactures better products, the extra care your brand takes in research, or the fresh ingredients your restaurant sources from local farms that make a lasting impact on your audience. In marketing, doing as others do is often the road to mediocrity. Embrace your brand’s uniqueness and share the benefits that come with it. These quirks may just be what gets your product off of the shelves and into homes. Just ask Chobani.

     

  3. Cup of Tea: How Vague Target Audiences Can Ruin Your Brand Strategy

    To many in our office, coffee is the great nectar of the gods–a blessing that provides a much-needed jolt of energy to kickstart creativity and productivity at the start of the day. For those diehard coffee drinkers, it may be hard to believe that some people don’t even like coffee, let alone drink the stuff. That’s right. Some people prefer tea. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that Folgers executes a brand strategy that focuses on those who consider their first cup of coffee “the best part of waking up,” instead of wasting their time, energy and budget talking to the uninterested, committed tea drinkers.

    Understanding that concept, why do so many companies still insist on being everything for everyone? There is a very natural desire to sell to as wide an audience as possible and cast as wide a net as you can. It makes sense–a larger audience equals greater success, right? Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. When writing my book, Formulaic: How Thriving Companies Market From the Core, I found one example of the opposite being true: an example that proves products and brands can flourish if their brand strategy is laser focused instead of vaguely aimed at mass appeal.

    A Story of Putters and Passion

    For those who enjoy the sport of golf, Scotty Cameron is a name that resonates with respect. Maturing his childhood love of golf into an obsession of the game and the gear used to play it, Cameron focused on a singular goal: to build the best putter in golf. And he did just that, developing putters used to win 15 championships and tournaments that include the US Open and the Masters. What started as a childhood obsession is now a business that rakes in over $100 million in revenue annually and serves the likes of Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. But it’s not just the pros who flock to Cameron’s clubs. ZZ Top drummer and amateur golfer Frank Beard has a fully customized collection valued at $1.5 million.

    While Cameron’s clubs are obviously a big hit with his target audience, his putters are expressly not for everyone. Priced at nearly $400 (double the price of many others on the market), the potential audience for these clubs is instantly thinned out by the sticker shock alone. Yet Cameron continues to be successful. Why?

    More than just an inspiring story of dream fulfillment, Scotty Cameron is a case study on why doing one thing exceptionally well for a highly specific audience can be far more lucrative than a scattershot approach with no clear direction. Cameron’s putters aren’t made for the casual fan. They are crafted with passion and quality for people who share his love for the sport. “Naysayers said that we (don’t) need another putter maker, so I tried to be the best putter maker,” commented Cameron.

    Hunting the YETI

    Many outdoorsy activities require their enthusiasts to brave everything from extreme heat to frigid cold, downpouring rain to bone-dry conditions. There was a need for equipment that could weather the same conditions its users could and keep ice frozen or coffee hot. For YETI, this need translated into an opportunity.

    Now known at the name in coolers, tumblers and similar gear, YETI first began when brothers Ryan and Roy Seiders discovered this need for quality coolers firsthand while hunting and fishing. Assuming that other lovers of the great outdoors experience similar issues, the two ventured to solve this highly specific problem for a highly specific audience–people like themselves. Though priced at a premium, YETI products targeted the people who care about quality when it comes to a cooler. Through a product that lived up to its promises, word-of-mouth spread in the serious fishing, hunting and camping communities. This reputation, paired with engagement with outdoors enthusiast influencers, turned YETI into a genuine phenomenon in this highly specific target market. Eventually, word spread of the nearly magical qualities of YETI products to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot (while taking a licking), opening it up to an even wider audience. Though now a mainstream brand, YETI’s wide success is largely due to the Seiders brothers’ laser-like focus and commitment to a singular market.

    The Right Product to the Right People

    Like Scotty Cameron’s premium putters or the Seiders brothers’ top-tier YETI products, your brand strategy can carve out a niche by tightly focusing efforts on a specific audience. It is OK to be ignored by a large swath of people as long as you are beloved by a designated few: your target audience. Brands die in the middle. Pick a side and serve it better than anyone else. That’s what Scotty Cameron and the Seiders did and what may work for your company as well. It’s OK to not be everyone’s cup of tea.

  4. Completing a Company Rebrand: The Story Behind CHS

    company rebrand

     

    Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHS) has had a singular mission for over 115 years: to help kids in need. And they have done just that, from helping to usher in child labor laws and rallying for the creation of the agency that would become the Department of Children and Families, to their current fight to revolutionize the foster care system. This organization of 2,000 team members impacts the lives of over 50,000 children and families every year. We don’t know about you, but that sounds like an organization worth our agency’s help. And while CHS certainly came to us with a legacy, we soon found they also needed a brand vision for the 21st century.

    Partnering with CHS, Findsome & Winmore’s marketing pros set out to work on a new logo, color palette, website, print collateral, and even office interior.  However, it was the influence we had on their culture that perhaps made the largest impact. If you aren’t a marketer (and perhaps, even if you are), you may be wondering where to even start on such a project.

    We took some time to discuss the nuts and bolts behind CHS’s bright and bold new look with Andy MacMillin, Findsome & Winmore creative director, as well as understand the behind-the-scenes creative and strategic rebranding process. Hint: it’s much more than just picking a pretty font and your favorite color.

    The Building Blocks to Rebranding CHS

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    What challenges were CHS facing that made them seek us out in the first place?

    company rebrand

    CHS first approached us to redesign their website. After speaking with CHS CEO, Mike Shaver, it became clear that upgrading their website without truly evaluating their overall brand identity would be a missed opportunity and possibly the wrong approach. Digging into the organization’s branding challenges led us to the conclusion that a full rebrand was the right choice for CHS.

    What was the first step of the company rebrand?

    CHS is a rather complex organization. We knew that we’d have to do some research to fully wrap our heads around the situation, so our first step was really just listening. We set up interviews with many of the key players, but it wasn’t just upper management that had a say.  The Findsome & Winmore team spoke to a cross section of those who make CHS tick. Additionally, the team interviewed a handful of CHS’s clients to get an accurate perspective of what CHS means to the people they serve.

    This interview process was incredibly important in highlighting not only what CHS currently was as a brand, but also what it needed to be moving forward. Interviewing a variety of people who experience CHS from such different perspectives also allowed us to uncover existing issues and beneficial traits of which the CHS team were totally unaware.

    What was the biggest challenge of this company rebrand?

    Our interview process revealed an organization that could benefit from a unified message. It’s not just that they were regionally separated in offices throughout Florida, but it became apparent they were seeking philosophical and cultural singularity. The challenge, therefore, became one of “taking the division out of the divisions” and providing the organization with a strong brand identity that could help unify and provide clear direction for the future.

    company rebrand

    Our new direction for CHS’s brand had to be rooted in a deep sense of pride and purpose in order to chart a path toward unifying all facets of the organization, from Broward County to Pensacola and CEO to teen mentor. We chose to focus on answering one simple, fundamental question: “What do they do?” With an organization as broad in scope as CHS, helping countless children, families and entire communities throughout Florida with a wide breadth of services, this was no small feat.

    However, the team and I knew that impactful brands must go beyond mission statements and a list of services to connect to their audience on an emotional level. So, we had to answer the question in a more fundamental and conceptual way. Ultimately this took the form of a simple, clear, singular promise: “We do good.”

    Shapes play a big role in the redesign. Explain this stylistic choice and the strategy behind the greater overall design of the brand and site.

    company rebrand

    The idea of utilizing basic shapes, such as stars, circles and squares, originally came about when I deconstructing the brand into its most basic elements. With CHS’s mission to improve the lives of children in mind, I harkened back to the old building blocks and colorful shapes of childhood. The elemental idea of CHS providing the building blocks for a better future for kids eventually evolved into the shapes that form the organization’s new logo and are featured prominently throughout the brand.

    As CHS deals with difficult, often tragic cases of child abuse, neglect and poverty, the look of the site and overall theme of the branding had to focus on the positive to provide an emotional balance. This was accomplished in the many small details inserted throughout the branding but is most identifiable by the prominent use of the gold star, a universal symbol of pride, accomplishment and approval for all children.

    All of these elements–the shapes, colors and promissory tagline–come together as a constant reminder to the CHS team that, regardless of position or office, they’re all working toward the same goal.

    Where do you pull creative inspiration from?

    company rebrand

    Children are the heart and essence of everything CHS does so that was my primary source of inspiration. Understanding childhood experiences and interpreting them into a brand identity that has the ability to connect with kids, families and communities in a positive and reassuring way was the goal we strove to achieve. But like any branding situation, you must look to the organization and understand it from the inside to know what’s possible and, in that sense, the insight given by the team and client interviews helped to drive a great deal of the creative direction.

    What are you most satisfied with about this rebrand?

    company rebrand

    This entire rebrand was based on our team’s desire to solve a problem for CHS. Though CHS was only looking for a new website, I and the account team were able to identify deeper issues within the organization that shaped the thinking and approach to the project. Ultimately this enabled us to create branding that the client felt truly spoke to their values and sense of purpose –something they are especially proud of accomplishing.

    Doing Good for CHS

    Every client’s rebrand is different, which makes perfect sense when you realize that every brand has its own unique goals, vision, voice–all of which must be considered before pen ever hits paper. This rebrand is the perfect example of how brands are built from the inside out. Because Andy and the account team were able to conduct in-depth interviews with a full, vertical slice of the CHS organization they were able to reshape the brand into something fresh and new yet something that still embodies what CHS is all about–doing good in many ways, in many regions of Florida to help children, families and communities live better lives.

     

  5. The Power of Your Brand!

    When Simplicity Isn’t So Simple

    It can be tempting, but don’t be deceived by the simplicity of many well-known brands. There is an art form and process behind branding, and without these processes it can become dangerously easy for a company to be misrepresented.

    The power of branding should never be undervalued or underrated. Effective brands are built from the inside out and are a true reflection of what a business is and what it stands for. In this era of digital marketing, the focus of branding may be about simplicity, but the simplistic nature of branding should not be construed as a “simple” over-night process.

    Give your brand the attention it deserves!

    The Critical Elements of a Brand

    The best brands appear effortless, but in reality, each one is made up of a few critical elements. While some can exist separately, the appropriate combination allows them to work together to create a unified and solid presence that becomes synonymous with a company.

    • Brand Position
      What your company does and your unique value(s), key differentiators over the competition.
    • Brand Promise
      The key consistent promise you make to your customers.
    • Brand Personality
      The traits you want to be known for.
    • Brand Story
      The historical perspective of your company creating value and credibility.
    • Brand Associations
      The physical elements of your brand: name, logo, color palettes, taglines, fonts, photography/illustration, etc.

    It’s important to remember that regardless of what your logo looks like, brand consistency is the key to long-term success.

    The Value of Consistency

    Consistency is vital to your brand’s success. When, how, why, and where you use a brand isn’t limited to one medium or outlet, and the awareness it generates can become irrelevant, damaging, and dangerous if the brand is represented incorrectly. In this digital renaissance, once you produce content and broadcast it online there’s no way to get it back. Whether the brand is represented in a blog, SlideShare presentation, or email signature, it must be incorporated consistently.

    To alleviate the concern and dangerous pitfalls of brand misrepresentation, consider creating a Brand Steward within your organization. It’s this team member’s role to monitor the use of the company’s brand and hold everyone implementing it accountable. This reinforces the ever-present idea that the company has an image to maintain (literally and figuratively); an image that must be consistently and accurately conveyed to all audiences.

    When Brands Go Wrong

    Burger King Fries King Campaign

    Take Burger King, for example. In October 2013, Burger King changed its name to Fries King in several markets as a social media stunt to raise awareness of their new “Satisfries” product. The result? Mass confusion. While this brand-switch definitely got people’s attention, it did not garner the most appreciative response from the targeted audience (increased sales). Burger King did not put much thought into how this faux name change fit in with their overall strategy as a brand, and instead confused the public and lost money. Hence the value and importance of not just having a Brand Steward in place, but also taking the time to develop a process and strategy behind each and every brand creation and alteration.

    Establish a Brand Standards Guide

    A brand standards guide is exactly what it sounds like. It provides the rules and guidelines that every team member needs to adhere to in order to ensure that the integrity and message of the brand isn’t compromised. It not only makes the Brand Steward’s job easier, it also helps team members know exactly how the brand should be used. Generally, it includes approved messaging, typography, color palettes, design elements, and logo files, among many other things that differ from company to company.

    Color Palette Example

    Imagine you don’t have theses guidelines in place (if you don’t, this won’t be that hard of an exercise). Every team member at some point in time will need to present your brand to existing and potential customers in some way, shape, or form. Without this document, they can stretch, pixelate, and change the color of your logo. They may create presentations that look like they came from a completely different company altogether. This is certainly not helping you create a memorable brand experience for your customers. A brand standards guide lets everyone know what is appropriate to use and what should be left at the door when it comes to representing your company.

    The Art and Science of Effective Branding

    Effective branding isn’t merely a matter of getting a company’s name out there or receiving recognition for a logo. It’s also about the science of incorporating, promoting, and consistently using the brand effectively to bring about desired results.

    Share a Coke Campaign

    Take the time to develop a brand that will mean something to targeted audiences. Just look at The Coca-Cola Company. The most recent “Share a Coke” initiative involved modifying their brand and logo in the sense that it basically disappeared. Consumers’ names were placed on bottles in lieu of the company name – and the majority of the public loved it. So much so that Coca-Cola is number three on the most valuable global brands for the second year in a row. We’re not saying this approach will work for everyone (it certainly didn’t for Burger King), but it goes to show that when a company consistently does it right for over 120 years, people remember it and create their own stories associated with it.

    How can companies go about creating and implementing an effective branding strategy? It starts with determining a committed, consistent, and resonating message. What appears simple on the outside in reality takes a lot of strategy, brainpower, and teamwork.

    Is your company’s branding effective?