Monday, 30 July 2012

Branding Excellence

Holistic branding, Conscious Capitalism, Branding 360; are these simply a collection of phrases to define Branding Excellence? If so, what is branding excellence and how do we pursue it?

According to branding expert Ron Strauss, 83% of a company’s market value today is represented by their intangible assets (brands, quality processes, relationships, etc.) Most think of brands in the context of communications. But building a strong, credible brand starts with building the right foundation across the entire company. Using the acronym developed by marketing Guru, Raj Sisodia, it is thought leadership built on embracing and collaborating with SPICE; Society, Partners, Investors, Customers, Employees.

It is evident that the pursuit of excellence within branding has to be thought of as a holistic system in which there are a number of elements present. It moves beyond simply being about making profits, to embracing the very raison d'etre to create something of intrinsic value that resonates with the needs of customers and with society at large, whilst embracing the needs of varying stakeholders.

From the outset, it is clear that senior leadership support is essential in creating and driving the sustainable brand journey. It has to be approached in a purposeful and meaningful way. Such credibility is all about trust, setting and delivering expectations consistently over a prolonged period of time. True brand excellence merges both the external facing products, services and experiences with operational credibility across supply chain, culture, recruitment and processes.

The key to keeping this real is to keep things fresh; not allowing the brand to be ladened down by actioning of the strategy, but creating strong differentiated brands which deliver real benefits, in a fresh consistent way allowing them to evolve and mature, in a similar way to that of one's personality and character which grows and develops through experience.

There is much to be said with personification of a brand; for a true brand should be able to stand such a test. What values does it uphold? What is its character? How and with whom does it engage? What benefit does it bring to society? Essentially, (in the words of P&G) every brand must define its purpose of how it uniquely touches and improves lives with its superior benefit.

To do that, we need to embrace and acknowledge the role of every communication channel, not purely digital, design, PR, sponsorship, partnerships (the list goes on), but every applicable tool that is going to actively connect with people in your world.

To close, I would like to leave you with three challenges:
  1. Understand what drives you and how you can make a difference in your sphere of influence.
  2. Find new ways to broaden your horizons, educate yourself and learn.
  3. Get creative – listen to a new radio station, take a different route to work, go to a different performance genre, read a difference newspaper, step out of your comfort zone.

In challenging yourself, maybe you will bring something different and more insightful to your next brand session, planning meeting or pitch.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Building the Foundations

I have always had aspirations to write, to share thoughts and inspirations and perhaps one day, even write a book. However, until today most of what I have written has remained under wraps or for project related eyes only. The tipping point from thoughts to action came recently, in a series of well meaning comments from friends and colleagues; 'You should write and share your insights', 'Can you write for my magazine', to the most honest 'you should write, get focussed on you and not others!'.

So as way of introduction; I am passionate about brands, creating, building and nurturing them. However I believe that brands are more than an identity or compelling customer proposition, brands should be like an iceberg. The visible element should be the smallest part, brands should run through the deepest parts of a company; people, processes, actions, thoughts and mindsets. In this way, brands like icebergs are beautiful. 

Aside from brands, I am passionate about culture, business excellence, integrity, start-ups and poverty alleviation. I have lived in three different continents and love the experience and understanding that each of these experiences have given me. 

Now located in Scotland I am a brand and business strategist working with fabulous clients across lots of different industries. I am also a mentor at Entrepreneurial-Spark, a non-profit social enterprise, with one thing at its heart; helping and nurturing early stage businesses to succeed, so they can make it to their first and second birthdays and potentially get investment or an exit. Finally I am a board member of a charity working in Africa helping to equip through education, support through work initiatives and bring relief to those in extreme poverty through food, accommodation and medical assistance.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you, adding value and food for thought.