How to write meaningful and memorable company values

Oct 19, 2020

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:

  • We act with integrity and respect – Mastercard
  • Doing well by doing right – VISA

And they all include the idea of...


How to brief a designer - the ultimate guide

Oct 09, 2020

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. 

The summary:

There are four significant success factors in briefing a designer, and managing the design process.

  1. Choosing wisely.
  2. Making sure you tell them the right things about you.
  3. Making...

The 2 Critical Things You Need To Include When You Brief A Designer To Build Your Brand

Sep 30, 2020

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 :

  1. Making sure you tell them the right things about you.
  2. Making sure you ask for the right things.

How to Brief a Designer #1: Tell them the right things about you

We just need to rewind a bit.  Everything...


Got four minutes? Learn the bedrocks of brand strategy

Sep 17, 2020

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.

Brand strategy is the answer to 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? 



Rewind a minute - what is brand strategy??

Sep 08, 2020

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!

What is a brand?

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...


Why rebranding is like home improvement - there are 3 ways to do it, but 2 things you MUST do first

Aug 26, 2020

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...


Brand Strategy, Branding and Marketing Strategy: get clear on what they are and the 1 big mistake you MUST avoid

Aug 11, 2020

I was driving back from Norfolk last week with a friend who was telling me about a difficult experience she’d had trying to get a website up and running for a client.  The client had briefed a logo designer who said he works, “Just when inspiration hits.”

6 weeks later and no logo options had materialised.  But he had taken a sketch pad on holiday with him.  

But the bigger problem was that there was no brief. 
Nothing to judge any logo against. 
No strategy. 

Nor was there a plan to create the other brand signals that need to work with the logo – fonts, colour palette, imagery etc.  And yet she was expected to get this website up and running.

I told her that, sadly, this wasn’t uncommon, and that I was planning to write about this in one of my blogs.

She told me to get on with it.

So here it is.  

Defining Brand Strategy, Branding & Marketing Strategy 

This could go on for pages - but I'm...


Looking for a brand benchmark? These are the top performers

Aug 04, 2020

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.

Strong brands build the bottom line

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...


Create a brand like Apple's by asking these 4 simple questions

Jul 10, 2020

Come on, admit it.

You know you’ve done it.

At least once.

Who hasn’t used Apple as their brand hero at some point?

In a presentation. In a workshop.  On their vision board. As an example of a brand you want yours to be like. 

Apple may no longer have the top spot in all of the world’s most valuable brands rankings (although #1, #2, and #3 is not exactly shabby), but as a brand strategy example, it’s still the boss. Who wouldn’t want to learn from a brand with an estimated average brand value of $242,324m?

Yup – we all still want to know the magic sauce behind its success.

Lots of people write about how Apple thinks different.  And does different.
iPod, iPads, Apple Stores, Genius Bars, iTunes… we all know these ground-breaking examples. 

So, let me share with you what they do that is exactly the sameThe same as all of the other world-leading brands I’ve worked with. Something that can help you strengthen...


Thinking of redesigning your logo and website? Stop! Read this first

Mar 24, 2020

As I sit in the UK on the first day of lockdown, I know that many of you, while feeling unsettled, may also be looking at this as an opportunity to step back and reassess aspects of your brand and businesses. 

One thing you may be considering is whether or not to redesign your logo and website. 

Perhaps you've been considering this for a while, or perhaps you see the recent slow down in business as the perfect opportunity to refresh what your brand looks and feels like.

But I will let you into the secret of how the world's most valuable brands will be approaching this.  

They will not be changing what they look like, or what they say about themselves unless they want to signal that they are doing something radically different - or want to stand for something different - in their customer’s lives.

Redesigning your logo and website is a sign to your customers that something about you has changed. Identifying this change should be your first...

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