Tag Archive: branding

  1. Blueprints and Bourdain: Crafting a Consistent Company Culture

    Company Culture

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time as founder and CEO of Findsome & Winmore, it’s that there is no opt-out button for company culture; it happens whether you plan it or not. Like floodwaters, culture tends to flow (often downhill) without boundaries. Part of the leader’s job is to build those boundaries by setting expectations for how things ought to work. As I was researching for my latest marketing book, Formulaic: How Thriving Companies Market From the Core, I was inspired by an unlikely source: tough-talking, world-traveling chef, Anthony Bourdain.

    Chef Bourdain is a divisive figure in the culinary world, often coming off as world-weary, gruff and unconcerned with ruffling his contemporaries’ feathers. While his abrasiveness may be well know, anyone who has read his Kitchen Confidential tell-all or watched his long-running TV series, Parts Unknown, also knows that his success is no fluke. Bourdain worked himself to the bone, dedicating his life to the world of culinary arts. In doing so, he has risen through the ranks from lowly cook manning a deep fryer to a world-renowned chef and TV personality. More than that, he has become a leader.

    One aspect of Bourdain’s leadership style that resonated with me is his persistence on the punctuality of his staff. Come hell or high water, Bourdain expects you to be ready to filet a tuna or sear a tomahawk steak as soon as your shift starts. Whether two minutes tardy or an hour late, your failure is still counted as a first and final strike. Upon your second case of tardiness, you’re off the team. Though strict, this stance is fair and sets a tone for the “company culture” of his kitchen. These expectations define his ideals and, therefore, reflect the level of excellence and responsibility his staff is expected to maintain. Not up to the challenge? Well, there’s the door.

    Of course, this level of brutal strictness doesn’t work in all (even most) companies but the lesson remains the same. Bourdain set a blueprint for company culture by not accepting anything but the culture he wants his kitchen to embody. Any good leader would be wise to instill the same within his or her own company. But how?

    Most importantly, you have to look inward and discover what is important to you. Your answer will be nuanced, multi-layered and possibly difficult to succinctly define, but you must do so in order to set clear cultural expectations. Build this blueprint based on the ideals you hold most dear, whether that’s punctuality or personal responsibility, collaboration or individual excellence–or a carefully chosen combination of all of these things (and more).

    Once the blueprint is defined and detailed in a culture guide, infographic, or video, you can set the foundation for your company culture. This breeds a clear, consistent vision for not just the present, but for a foundation to build a company’s success and a team’s happiness. After all, without a blueprint, you can’t have a solid foundation. Without a foundation, your company is sure to face some unsteady footing the larger it grows.

    While I don’t believe that simply hanging up a series of platitudes on the wall will solve all of your problems, it certainly does help. Without any definition at all, the floodwaters will simply flow where they may. Part of creating a winning culture is defining what you’d like it to be.  Without that definition, you very well may have a flood on your hands.

  2. Weathering the Storm: Hurricane Irma Prep Tips for Your Brand

    Hurricane Irma

     

    Hurricane Irma is set to come knocking on our front doors in the coming days. Though you may have already prepared your home, you must also make sure your brand is set to weather the oncoming storm.

    By following these simple tips, your organization can keep team members and clients informed before and after this emergency situation while sending messaging that avoids some common PR and social media faux pas:

     

    • Prepare for PR Delays: While the news is dominated by updates on Hurricane Irma as she approaches, your company’s PR efforts are likely to be lost in the shuffle. Expect to delay that big PR push until after the storm and subsequent recovery.
    • Double Check Your Social Media Schedule: As many of us often schedule our social media posts weeks in advance, it’s a good idea to revisit these planned features to ensure they aren’t insensitive or in bad taste within the context of the incoming storm and the days (perhaps weeks) of recovery to follow. Consider sharing a safety-conscious post that details how your clients or customers can prepare for Hurricane Irma.
    • Create an External and Internal Communication Plan: In these emergency situations, communication is key. With the possibility of losing power and internet access, you should outline and share a detailed emergency external and internal communication plan. Collect and physically write down contact information of team members and clients in order to lessen downtime and provide updates on recovery. Also, ensure that each team member knows who to report to and how to do so once the storm has passed.
    • Announce Your Hours of Operation: Make your planned hours of operation known to both your team and customers/clients. Your team should know in advance how much time they will have to prepare for Hurricane Irma, as well as when they will be expected to report back to work. The same consideration goes for your clients and customers, who you want to keep informed at every step.
    • Minimize Your Email Marketing: Much like your social media and PR efforts, it is best to put a hold on your email marketing, unless it has to do with sharing pertinent information, such as your hours of operation or other need-to-know news about your business.
    • Hold Your Website Launch: If your new website has the unfortunate luck of launching near the forecasted arrival of Hurricane Irma, you may want to hold off until we are able to return to our normal lives. Most will be more concerned with storm updates than checking out your new site in the coming days.

     

    Let us be clear, your organization is (and should always be) put after your life and the lives of your team. Make your people the priority by giving them, and yourself, ample time to prepare and hunker down before Hurricane Irma strikes. Once personal safety is secured, you can focus on keeping your brand safe from inappropriate messaging or a lack of communication with both internal teams and those your organization serves.

    We may not know the full extent of what Hurricane Irma has in store for us but through a bit of preparation now, we can lay the groundwork for an easier recovery and, ultimately, getting back to work. Stay safe out there, Orlando.

  3. 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

    company rebrand

    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.

     

  4. When it Comes to Your Brand, Consistency is Key

    Far too often, companies invest massive amounts of money into creating a brand as a means to an end. A strategic logo is created, the color palette is just right, the font is unmatched, and the style speaks on its own. It’s been perfectly printed across all collateral materials and has been put on display for the target customer. The business is branded. The easiest mistake is then made when the creativity stops here, and all efforts have been put into creating a brand, and none into preserving it.

    That being said, does brand consistency matter?

    Does Brand Consistency Really Matter?

    The answer is YES.

    Take a look at one of the biggest players out there, one who has been excelling at offering a steady, protected brand since 1923: Disney. The Walt Disney Company evokes a certain reaction from us: feelings from childhood memories and emotional bonds to recognizable characters, neither of which happened overnight.  The company has worked hard to convey defined messages reflecting its values and voice through consistent branding in everything it does, from in-person interactions to written communications on social media. These efforts, built over time, allow the company to create a solid brand that has become recognizable and associated with the exact image they want to convey.

    Star Wars

    Photo Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

    Let’s take a look at a brand that, if it weren’t for some very clever maneuvering, may not exist as it does today: Star Wars. This brand experienced a slight misstep in the ‘70s after the notorious Star Wars holiday special, one even George Lucas wishes he could forget. Quickly swept under the rug, the Star Wars brand still exists and is stronger than ever (partly due to their buy-out by the multi-billion dollar Disney). This is a prime example of why correlated messaging is so important in building the brand you want, with the audience you want. With a cohesive team and a pivot in marketing tactics, Star Wars has proven that even in the face of adversity, a solid brand can overcome pretty much anything.

    As with all good things, brand consistency takes time, but is oh so worth the energy once it’s rolling. A company isn’t just a name, it has its own voice and attitude; you just need to define and build on it for the world to take in.

    So What Makes Brand Consistency Worth Your Time?

    It sets you apart. What makes you different from all the others providing the same things you do? Your identity. Building a brand with an individual voice differentiates you from your competition and makes you easy to recognize and create associations with. The personal experiences people have with your brand are what will later influence their opinions about you (and whether or not they think you’re worth their time).

    It gives you credibility. The initial contact a customer often has with a company is through its brand presence. It’s a search on social media, on a search engine, or a glance at a brochure on a desk. With branded messaging across all channels, trust is instilled and customer loyalty is achieved. They come to know what they can expect by associating your identity with what you do. And after all, creating sustainable relationships is what it’s all about.

    It makes you, you. Planning and showcasing a consistent voice that enforces core messaging is what will give your brand life. No longer just a name printed on a billboard, your audience now knows who you are, what you do, and how you roll. You can be witty, informative, sarcastic – anything you want. This is how your audience will come to remember you, and ultimately decide if you’re the right fit for them.

    Featured Image Credit: Yui Sotozaki

  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?

  6. Rebranding: You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

    Rebrands can be an exciting, scary and often times necessary “evil”.  It can shake up what you thought was the core of your brand and force you to reevaluate everything from who you were, who you currently are and who you want to be. When a rebrand occurs, sometimes you won’t be ready for it. Heck, you might downright be afraid of it and not willing to embrace it, but something brought you to this point to make you realize that maybe, just maybe, this is necessary.

    For me, rebranding is an interesting process. It’s definitely not easy, but it most definitely is fun and a great challenge. You get to tap into creativity and strategy all the while positioning a brand so that it speaks to its past (if it’s worthy of being spoken to), its present and its future. Who doesn’t want a brand that can stand the test of time?

    When starting on the path of a rebrand, make sure to keep the following in mind:

    1. Position is key.

    The first step in the rebranding process is positioning. Positioning aids in identifying an appropriate market niche for your brand and being known for that. Positioning will lead you to create your “brand positioning statement” which is an expression of how your brand fills a particular consumer’s needs and desires. With a brand positioning statement you are telling consumers how to think of you in terms of what category you are in.

    2. Who’s your target?

    Your positioning will lead you to identifying your target audience. This target audience should encompass your primary and secondary decision-making customers (and influencers) to whom you are trying to sell. Who do you want to sell to and why?

    3. It’s key to have keywords in play.

    Make a list of words that describe your business and focus on expressing your brand to your target audiences. These words aid in influencing consumers and should be used consistently in training and in internal/external marketing. Keywords keep your brand focused on its identity and maintain that identity in consumer’s minds.

    4. It’s all about the experience.

    A brand experience statement defines the overall feeling and ideal experience that you want a customer to have when encountering your brand. This statement helps influence the consumer experience and set expectations for how their interaction with your brand will go. Note that planning is only part of this process; it’s up to you and your employees to deliver on that brand experience statement.

     

    Lassie (a 76 year-old brand – 532 in dog years) is a great example of a rebrand initiative that is taking place utilizing some of the steps above. Dreamworks decided that instead of reviving Lassie with a movie or TV show, they would instead rebrand her as a merchandising star and market her to adults as a “national treasure.” As soon as early 2015, you’ll see a large rush of products that all showcase Lassie’s good looks and sweet mane. This is proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks and rebranding can occur at any point in a brand’s life cycle.

    Remember, a rebrand signifies change – not only in the look, but also the attitude which is the heart and soul of the brand. So before you can move on with a new look, you must lock down the attitude.

    Happy rebranding!