Brand creation for a new central London tech start-up that uses bags and packaging as an advertising medium… hence the name.
Our work included creating the overall brand and identity.
Brand creation from a clean sheet on behalf of a smoothie company that makes natural smoothies from dates.
Our work included naming ideas, brand positioning, tone and identity, followed by an implementation programme that includes bottles and packaging, stationery, website, advertising and retail design.
AKA The common sense (most cost effective) approach to creating a great start-up product or service Brand.
To create a great start-up product brand you need to think about more than branded packaging, website, signage and the interior design of the shops. This is all massively important but there’s a stage that comes before it – creating the actual Brand itself!
Strong brands have fans rather than customers. People become aware of them and what they stand for without ever looking for them.
If there is one thing to aim for in creating a brand it is surely this. But how to go about it?
Strong brands are not just about overt statement. They are actually far more potent when based on word-of-mouth. That is
to say, when they become ‘discoveries’. And particularly when those discoveries become ‘destinations’. Where your customers become fans… and go on to become evangelists on your behalf. They then start telling their friends and, well, you can start to grasp the positive impact that that can have on your business.
Keep this in mind.
1. BRAND VISION: STAND FOR SOMETHING
It all starts with a very big idea… a cunning plan… an ideology. Fundamentally, and I can’t stress this enough, you must have a very clear view of what you stand for and what you want to achieve.
An easy way of thinking about this is as “what you want to be famous for”.
2. BRAND VALUES: ACT CONSISTENTLY
This is about how you act as you go about achieving your vision. You’ll need three or four statements that become guiding principles for how you operate. No more, no less.
Brand values are also an excellent way of checking if something feels right for your business. They will inform not only what you do in terms of marketing, but also the way your whole business operates. For example, selecting new staff… because you can realistically start to ask “does this person embody our values?”
3. BRAND TONE: THINK ABOUT HOW YOU COME ACROSS.
Very few brands leap out of the wallpaper of commercial life to penetrate our defenses. The ones that do generally feel like they connect at a visceral level, but it is actually more scientific than that. It is fundamentally about personality. In fact, whilst identity is the most visible aspect of a brand, it is personality that is arguably its most pervasive.
It forms the basis for how you come across in written, verbal and non-verbal communications. Your brand’s personality will drive its tone-of-voice, which in turn will be articulated through the language that you use. Which, if you pitch it right, will zing directly to the heart of the people that you want to connect with.
4. BRAND IDENTITY: LOOK AMAZING.
Your brand’s identity is the most immediately tangible aspect of your brand. But whilst the man in the street tends to think of logo as ‘brand’ there are actually a whole array of other potential assets within our visual armory. This is good news because these days most names, icons, colours have been done before in some format or other. The trick is how we use each of these constituent elements in relation to each other to energize our brand’s own particular DNA.
In purely quantitative terms we can list our potential identity armory as logotype; primary, secondary and tertiary fonts; colourways; iconography and style of photography. The second aspect is more qualitative – how we use them in relation to each other. We tend to refer to this as the brand’s graphic identity system.
When it comes to creating a powerful brand there is no silver bullet but get these four elements right and you’ll be travelling a long way in the right direction.
Paul Thwaites is an ex international brand consultancy director who now runs Zut Alors – a small, hot-shop brand creation consultancy that specialises in the foodie and artisanal sector.
Paul has lectured on the pragmatic approach to creating a brand at Oxford University and City of London University.
Zut Alors provide an end to end brand creation service from brand definition and identity through to designing packaging and interiors.
Featured: Our brand creation work for PLAANK, nitenite Cityrooms, SuperSmoo-V, Bagboard, Pilcro
AKA The common sense (most cost effective) approach to creating a great estate agency Brand.
So, you’re looking to launch a new estate agency. You’ve got a big idea, a good track record working for others in the area and a potentially great product – you know it will fly if you could just get people as enthused about it as you are.
Therefore, based on the adage that a strong brand is built on an engaging proposition backed up by a great experience, you’ve got exactly half of what you need for success. What you don’t have is the stunning brand proposition.
You know that you need to tackle the dreaded B word but where to start? Money’s tight and one thing you know for sure is that at this early stage in the growth of your business you can’t afford a big consultancy. If that’s the case, I hope these few words help…
I’ll start by saying that branding isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a black art. It’s not all about paying a band of expensive consultants to go off and ruminate for a couple of months and then deliver back a tome that makes a thwack on your desk directly commensurate with the the size of your wallet. It can, and should, be a lot simpler.
Let me go as far as to say that if you can’t write the essence of your brand on the palm of your hand you’ve probably got something wrong. Because if you have to reach inside your pocket for a prompt-sheet it means that you won’t have ‘got it’. And if you haven’t got it nobody else will either.
So what is it that should be written across the palm of your hand?
Well, firstly make a cross to divide it up into four sections. That’s because this is the number of things that you’ll need to articulate – no more and no less – for your own benefit and that of everyone your business will come into contact with. Everything else, no matter how important, falls within this core proposition.
1. STAND FOR SOMETHING.
In the top left hand quadrant you should write the words “The Big Idea” or “Vision”, whichever you prefer. This first quadrant deals with where your business is going. It’s the big goal on the distant horizon that you are aiming for. It’s what you are going to be famous for. It’ll also be the basis of the ‘notes for editors’ on future press releases.
You’ll need one simple statement of intent that everyone can get behind – your staff, your investors, the media and, most importantly, your customers. And it should not be an uncomfortable amalgam of two or three sentences American-styli, nor should it ever use words like “exceed” or “expectations”!
Needs a bit of thinking about, yes. But it’s worth considering that at this early stage in your business you are in a far better place than most big corporates– because you know what you stand for already. You are fresh, have no baggage, no history and therefore no nasty credibility gaps to bridge. All you’ll need is a good independent person, or small team, to help guide your thinking and to help you to package the balloon of ideas that comes out of it into a proposition that means something to the outside world.
There you have it. Simple? Well, no, actually. But then it isn’t that difficult either.
2. LIVE WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN.
In the second quadrant you should write “Values”. You’ll need three or four key words or statements that define how your business is going to act as you aim towards your business’ “Vision”. This’ll set the culture of the business, or to put it another way, you could say it’s “how we do things around here”.
You’ll then be able to apply this as a template to everything that you do – both operationally and from a communications perspective. It’ll help to ensure the money you are spending on communications is not funding a black hole of disparate activity, but instead is all aiming towards one vision-and thus building long-term value in the business.
Equally, it’ll mean that you’ll also be able to apply the same rationale to things like choosing outlets, suppliers, future products and employing staff and training them – because it’ll be easier to ask the question: “does this person fit the way we do things?”
Having defined these first two slightly more intangible elements we can now work on the two aspects that everyone can see: “Identity” – which is perhaps the most tangible, and “Language” – which is the most pervasive.
3. MAKE SURE THAT YOU COME ACROSS CONSISTENTLY.
So, in the third quadrant write “Personality and Language”. This deals with the way your business comes across in written and verbal communications.
Look around you. We are bombarded with advertising messages every moment of every day – and we are becoming ever more adept at filtering them out. The brands that are cutting through are the ones with a believable story, the ones that use engaging language to win their audience. Nobody can have failed to have noticed (and smile at) the messaging on the back of an Innocent drinks bottle.
Win people over this way and they become evangelists on your behalf – and good PR is vital when you don’t have a big budget for other activity. Just ask the guys at Serious**.
In fact, Serious** is a great example. A waste management company – its issue was that it couldn’t get onto tender lists for large businesses and local authorities. It could have rebranded as something inane like “Alpha Waste Management Solutions” but instead they used self effacing humour to front up to what they do for a living – which is basically shovelling s**t. Hence the name Serious** and a thousand audience-smile- inducing puns were born. Self deprecating humour has a direct link to wit and intelligence. It also suggests that the people behind it are the sort of people that you’d actually like to deal with. The result was that they went from being very much a tertiary choice to going to right the top of many tenders.
4. PRESENT YOURSELF CORRECTLY
The final quadrant is all about what the man in the street thinks of when thinking of Brand. That’s how your business looks – “Identity”. This is all about appropriating powerful visual elements such as colours and icons that become synonymous with you – much as in the original sense of branding cattle. It’s about creating something magical that energises every touchpoint.
Well there you have it.
Clearly great brands are not just built on powerful and inspiring brand stories – they have to be backed up by equally powerful delivery of the product. There’s nothing new there and forgive me if I’ve appeared to state the obvious. But that’s all branding should be… simple… and to an extent, obvious. And the more effective it’ll be for it.