EVERY MOUNTAIN HAS FALSE SUMMITS – WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO GET THE BRAND BASICS RIGHT
We have undertaken some fascinating brand reviews for clients in the last few months which have uncovered some surprising issues. Here are my five top tips for creating brand equity and long term value:
1) Understand your client
I have met some incredible entrepreneurs in my career, and they all have one thing in common, an ability to see beyond the point at which most of us become clouded in our judgement, and a desire to get to that place which is undiminished by even the most severe setbacks. Ten years ago a client of ours set off on a dream to create a sustainable business which could be replicated in areas around the world to help to resolve employment and poverty issues without the need for outside support. A pretty huge dream in the first place but one which has been truly tested many many times over the last ten years. Most of us would have given up or ran out of money, energy, desire or interest, but this entrepreneur has never let go of that dream. Having had the business recently valued at $65m is payback for that focus and determination. Offering valuable marketing and branding advice in such circumstances is totally dependent on understanding the shere magnitude of that vision and being able to support the communication of it.
2) Get the basics right
When you embark on a rebranding journey alongside a client it is impossible to know where it is going to end up. So, it is essential to stress test your assumptions and findings properly in the early stages as you are going to rely on them later on when emotions and opinions start to run high. We have recently worked with a really dynamic and intelligent team who are innovatively shaking up their market. As with any branding exercise it needs a great deal of thought and research to be able to distill it down to it’s essence. But, as with most entrepreneurs if you ask them to look for a needle in a haystack, they don’t stop when they have found one needle, they carry on looking for more. So when you deliver weeks of work condensed down to a beautiful creative execution, they are not going to accept it at face value, they are going to see if they can find a better needle. If you have done your job properly you will have created the best needle there is, so hold firm through the stress testing – they will appreciate and value it in the long run.
3) Give them what they need not what they want
Most entrepeneurs are time poor and have a limited attention span. But, when they do focus their attention on something it is like a laser, their brains are whirring like a jet engine. So once they have made up their mind, they want action and they want it yesterday. So it is really easy to get swept along with the new agenda of action and action now. But for you to continue to add value, you need to keep your eye on the prize, and if you believe that the swift action that is being taken and is satisfying the whole team, is taking the project down a blind alley, you have to educate and persuade all of those stakeholders that they need to put the brakes on, review and get back on course. Very difficult to do but if you are about serious value add you will work out a way to do it.
4) Go Beyond the brief
If you are working with a team who decide by committee then you need to understand the issues they face. Often the decision making process is diluted by the need to keep the committee onside and it is your job to understand the marketing needs, interpret them and deliver back marketing advice that is right for the project even if it does not directly respond to the brief. If the essence of your solutions are rooted in what the project needs then you will be able to disarm the committee justifiably without the need to go head to head and deliver game changing solutions.
5) Clarity is key
We recently spent six months agreeing the brief before we even started delivering on it. With some clients it is essential to nail down the detail so there is absolutely no wriggle room. Uderstanding corporate culture and disc profiling the personalities will help you to make a decision about how tight you need the contract and deliverables to be. Overtime as a small business you will attract and work for clients who fit your corporate and personal profile and it becomes a self fulfilling client selection process. They select you because you deliver and the relationship works, you continue to work with them because it is fulfilling on all fronts. Be clear what success looks like for you and for the project and don’t lose site of it.