All I want for Christmas is to spend time with my family, to be truthful.
But since, in the UK, Boris has allowed us only 5 days, I’m also thinking about the books on my Christmas wishlist.
I LOVE a new branding or business book.
(I warned you before – I truly am a Brand Strategy Geek).
If you’re the same, find my top 3 recommendations below.
1. GROW: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit At The World’s 50 Greatest Companies – Jim Stengel.
Puts stats behind the importance of brand strategy, includes big brand case studies (think Pampers, Discovery, Method) and tells you what it takes to implement a brand strategy successfully.
Here’s a few gems from this one:
“Maximum growth and high ideals are not incompatible. They’re inseparable.”
“The most powerful and profitable tools in business are ideals – ideas for improving people’s lives that speak directly to their instincts,...
"I'm not sure I'm smart enough to do brand strategy."
Do you know how often I hear that?
But what’s really behind this?
Firstly - the jargon and unnecessary complexity that can make the whole area feel inaccessible.
Secondly - a case of brand strategy imposter syndrome that occurs, even among strategists with YEARS of experience, because they feel they don't really know what to do or exactly how to do it.
Here’s two things to solve this:
Let's start with the skills, since if these don't feel like you - or don't feel like things you want to be good at - you won't want to go any further.
From my 20+ years experience, and a ton of interviews with other brand strategists, there are 5 of them...
In my Brand Strategy Academy course this week, we’ve been talking about how to do competitor research, in order to ensure that your brand strategy is sufficiently differentiated.
I choose these words carefully, because despite the old adage of, “DIFFERENTIATE OR DIE!”, the reality is that it’s just not realistic to write a brand strategy where every single idea in it is different from your major competitors’. This is particularly true when you get to writing WHO you are and HOW you do things – what companies often call their values, beliefs or behaviours.
Take Visa, Mastercard and American Express – 3 of the 35 most valuable brands in the world.
If you look at WHO they are and HOW they say they do things, all three talk about integrity:
And they all include the idea of...
I'm in an accountability group with three amazing entrepreneurial women, who are all trying to create their websites. When we chatted last week, they were bemoaning the fact that they'd been given "bad logos" from the designers they'd hired to help them.
I suggested that perhaps it wasn't the designers' fault, and asked them what they'd put in their brief.
There was a shifty silence...
So I wrote them a guide that I shared in my blog last week, then asked for feedback on it from the amazing design talent I know. I wanted both sides of the story.
So here's the ultimate guide - from my perspective, having briefed hundreds of design projects over the years, and from the perspective of talented designers who’ve seen many good and bad briefs in their time.
Are you looking to do your logo, website or brand at the moment?
These are the three words you might be focusing on when you're briefing a designer to help you.
I need a logo, then I need a website. And these are the foundations of my brand.
But this is a surefire way to lead to disappointment and frustration with what you get back.
Partly, success with any brief is down to the skill of the designer, so, firstly, make sure you’re buying from someone who has a lot of references, who can show you a lot of their work, and who can show variety in their work.
You want them to be able to reflect YOU - not impose their style on you.
But the other two significant success factors in briefing a designer and managing the design process are :
We just need to rewind a bit. Everything...
Got 4 minutes?
Then I’ve got 4 questions for you. Questions that every world-class brand knows their answers to.
What am I talking about?
Brand strategy, of course. Because all any business needs to do to create a brand strategy is to answer these four questions.
WHY - you exist
WHO - you are
HOW - you do things, and how you look, feel and sound
WHAT - you do
Now you can call these whatever you want. You can call the answer to WHY you exist your brand purpose or your mission. You can call the ‘WHO', your values, principles, or philosophy. You can call your 'HOW' your behaviours, or mantra, or principles.
Contrary to what you might see elsewhere – what you call these things DOES NOT MATTER!
But what matters very much, is your answers to these questions, and that you answer all of them.
Why do we have to answer each of these questions?
So I've been writing away about branding for a while, but I got a couple of emails this week from people asking me to rewind a bit, and answer, 'What is brand strategy?'
So here's a 5 minute clip from my free 'Brand Strategy in 7 Simple Steps' mini-course that explains it.
I start by rewinding even further - to what is a brand.
Because you've gotta know that, before you know what brand strategy is.
If you're more a reader than a watcher, get the explanation below.
And if you're itching to know what to do next - how to do your brand strategy - then it's all in the free course - get it right here.
Wishing you clear, confident brand-building progress my friend!
All brands really are, are the associations people have about a business in their minds.
And studies and neuroscience have shown that the stronger and more connected these associations are, the more likely a customer is to choose and buy your brand.
So what does this...
This week I had a mildly successful back-to-school shop with the kids. (One pair of football boots down, one to go).
September is in the air, and this year, even more than others, that ‘back-to-school’ feeling is hitting businesses too.
All the questions I’ve got within the last week have been about ‘rebranding’ in September.
Perhaps the lure of new shiny pencil cases is making you feel your brand needs an update too?
If so, then just hold your horses for a moment before you get sign-off on a big September ‘rebrand.’
‘Rebranding’ is a very loaded and misunderstood term – usually interpreted to be all about changing the signals of what you stand for – primarily your visual identity and verbal identity. It’s used as the great panacea – for declining sales and low pricing, lack of customer engagement, or employee motivation.
And, let’s be honest, it’s also kind of exciting...
The world of brand and marketing is full of complex terminology.
But brand strategy, branding and marketing strategy can be explained simply. And once you get this clear in your head you can be more confident with your brand and marketing planning and projects.
Read on for simple descriptions of what brand strategy, branding and marketing strategy are, and what order to address them.
As Julie Andrews sang, "Let's start at the very beginning".
First, you have to understand what a brand is.
"Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind."
All brands really are, are associations in people’s minds. And the stronger and more connected these associations are, the more likely a person is to choose and buy your brand.
More here if you want it, but let's move on...
Brand strategy is your decision on what...
3 is the magic number, or so sang De La Soul. (Anyone else remember that one??)).
Douglas Adams would have you believe it’s 42.
But my magic number is 35.
35 is the number of brands that appear across all 3 global brand valuation studies (BRANDZ, Interbrand and Brand Finance). I’ve been researching the brand strategies of the brands that appear in these studies since 2013. (Yes – I’m a total brand strategy geek, and proud of it). But it’s the ones that appear across all that I do a really deep dive on every year. And this year there are 35 of them.
Now, I hear some of you scoffing. Because it’s easy to take pot shots at these valuation studies, as the inimitable Mark Ritson does here. The figures for the same brand are often widely different. Take Google – who BRANDZ value at $323,601m and Brand Finance have at $159,722m. Just a teeny $163,879m difference. A mere...
Well, here's a secret for you...
There are '7 Simple Steps' to a world-class brand strategy. They work for ANY brand in any industry, and you can get them FOR FREE in my 4-part video mini-course.
This proven formula is based on my 20 years of global brand strategy experience and study of the 181 world's most valuable brands, and it's yours today, for free.