On Tuesday 11th June me and fellow Activate Media colleague Adrian Austin ventured to Google Campus to attend an interesting presentation on “The Five Laws of Brand Design” by Jim Prior, CEO of WPP group branding agency The Partners. It was not only a chance to hear what one of the creative industry's greats had to say about branding (a subject close to our heart), but also a chance to observe the branding challenges faced by UK businesses.
5 Laws of Branding Design
Here's a round-up of 5 Laws of Branding Design, according to Jim Prior of The Partners. That's not to say that there are only 5 things to consider for successful branding design, it's more a case of not getting carried away and just selecting the main main ones. Here they are:
- Find your idea
- Defy convention
- Make a difference
- Keep the faith
- Have fun
I'm all up for audience participation, and the Q&A gave a real insight into some of the branding challenges and concerns faced by UK businesses. I've selected below some questions asked by the audience, with accompanying answers which added to the value of Jim's presentation.
Is there a difference between community and brand?
It depends on the brand size and type. For bigger brands like Nike, the brand is normally separate from the community. Nike might have an active and engaged community who they listen to, but they very much control their own branding. Conversely, there is less of a separation between community and brand for smaller or more socially led companies. One socially led brand is Great Little Place in London, which started life as a Facebook community of people sharing recommendations of the most charming spots in London and quickly developed into a fully fledged business for it's creators. Even with a new website (which was crowdfunded) and sister communities around the world, for Great Little Place, the community and brand is interchangeable.
Are straplines still needed?
No because straplines are often meaningless. So many companies stuff create their straplines with little thought, stuffing them with words which have, over time, become cliched. Don't get distracted with the strapline and focus on communicating your brand message more clearly.
Doesn't branding consistency limit creativity?
Branding consistency doesn't need to be boring. All it means is that the idea, the message, and the experiences connected with your business should be consistent. It by no means mean that your brand cannot develop and change – so long as it consistently changes. Fairy Liquid (top UK washing detergent brand) has been consistently spreading the message of being kinder to hands and being more economical for over 50 years now, even though their adverting and approach has developed with the times. Even their recent run of TV ads, coining the term “Fairyeconomy” promotes their same message to a modern audience.
How long should I give before evaluating branding success?
Brands need time to develop, nurture, and evaluate. If you have a good business model, you should give at least 3-5 years before evaluating your branding efforts. If, however you are unsure of your business model effectiveness, then it will equally be hard to measure if a failing brand is because of your business model or because of your branding. It could also be a failure with the quality of how your branding was executed. This highlights the importance of establishing your branding idea, and going through the branding process early on.
How can my business manage it's branding when it works with multiple agencies?
When your business works with more than one agency at a time (perhaps for PR, web development, branding, etc) and it comes to managing your branding, it could be a case of too many cooks spoil the broth. In a multi-agency environment like this, it's often a challenge to get the different agencies to work together, and getting this wrong can harm your business in various ways, with branding inconsistency being just one of the consequences.
One way to manage potential conflicts of interest in a multi-agency environment is to give one person the responsibility of managing the various agencies. Ideally this person would be somebody within your team who is an advocate of branding, e.g. the CEO, or Marketing Officer. Otherwise, it could be an external project manager, or one of the agencies you already work with. I think that in multi-agency environments with digital projects, digital agencies should lead the team because they're the ones who will know how best to apply the project to digital.
How can my business brand itself effectively across multiple-channels?
7 years ago businesses didn't consider iPads or iPhones in their branding because they simply didn't exist, and now they're mainstream and businesses can no longer afford to ignore multi channel branding.
With the opportunities that multi-channel branding brings, such as bringing your brand to life (beware, this link is not for the faint hearted!) with interactive and fun elements, comes the challenges of how to adapt your branding to different screen sizes and maintain consistency across multiple channels. Make sure you design for the device.
How about you, what questions do you have about branding?
At Activate Media we help our clients to plan, design and create for digital and we can help you too – just contact us for a free 2 hour digital review.