Most brands are not planned. You get an idea, start a business, pick a name and URL and off you go. Years later your businesses has grown, you have marketing professionals on board, but no-one seems to be able to agree on what the next advertising campaign looks like. Yes, there is a great brand guidelines with logos, colours and print layouts prescribed, but when it comes to creating the next advertising campaign or event it all feels like a shot in the dark with a room full of subjective different ideas about what ‘idea’ is ‘us’.
Familiar? I’ve seen it dozens of times and it’s always because of one reason – no-one has defined the personality of the brand.
Your brand is not your logo – it’s your heart and personality
When a prospective customers meets your brand it’s like they’re meeting a person for the first time. They want to understand your attitude and personality, what drives and inspires you – not just the colour of your clothes.
If you want to really guide your future creative direction as an organisation you need more than a brand guidelines fonts and logo sizes, you need to convey the personality and heart of your brand. For this you need a brand pyramid, or our superior version 😉 – a ‘brand coffee pot’. Having this one page document will help everyone quickly understand your brand’s attitude, what motivates it, how it talks and sounds, and not just how it ‘looks’ from the outside.
Why it matters to your business
It may seem like a small thing, but having your brand pyramid nailed will benefit your business in 5 important ways:
- Creating it will force your senior management to make a stand on what makes your organisation different.
- It will save your marketing teams time and energy by injecting clarity in the briefing process. How often has a proposed campaign been shot down by the CEO for not ‘feeling like our brand’?
- It will become a springboard for exciting and effective creative work from your agencies, because they now have a clear understanding of your organisation and what drives it.
- It will act as a litmus test for all creative work, removing subjectivity from the review and development process.
- It will motivate and guide your internal staff in how they go about their day-to-day work and interactions with customers and colleagues.
This last benefit has the potential to transform your business. Your best ambassadors should be your own people. Every day they influence your customers and affect your company profits and future potential. Employees as the ‘face’ of your brand is not new – but few companies are able to harness the power of a ‘employee-driven brand’. Why? Because they don’t know what the brand they work for stands for.
Failing to understand and clearly convey the unique personality of your brand is costly.
- Opportunities will continue to be lost due to unmotivated staff.
- Marketing spend will be wasted with creative that just doesn’t engage.
- Board decisions will continue to be made based on gut instinct instead of being directed and by a unified brand purpose.
Most organisations don’t do this groundwork for two main reasons:
- Misunderstanding: ‘Brand’ is still seen internally as your logo and what colours and font you use
- Cost: The process is perceived as being expensive and painful. We have all heard the stories of big companies spending millions on rebrands with expensive strategists and endless workshops.
Getting started is easy – get the coffee on
Our single-page brand ‘coffee-pot’ is an alternative to the ‘brand pyramid’. It’s a simple way for anyone in your organisation to immediately understand who you are as a brand.
Our ‘brand coffeepot’ as the antidote to the complicated brand book we all know and hate. It simply explains the most important key elements of a brand on a single page. At its heart is the core brand essence, and supporting this are the four brand essentials of internal values and personality, and external functional and emotional benefits.
|Brand essence (or the ‘brand promise’)||The core characteristic that defines and drives your organisation|
|Internal values (or ‘brand pillars’)||The values and the personality your organisation needs to adopt to make these real|
|External benefits||The external functional and emotional benefits people gain from interacting with your brand|
The coffeepot example below is for local co-working space aggregator Phlex. They asked us to create a new campaign for them, but we quickly realised they had no brand framework to work from. They completed our online questionnaire, took part in a follow up Zoom chat, and within a couple of weeks they had important market insights, a cohearant framework, a ‘manifesto’ that expressed their mission as a business and a campaign to attract new workspaces.
Why not a pyramid?
Our issue with the normal brand pyramid format is that it assumes the process of supporting your essence is linear, when in reality it demands effort internally and externally at the same time. Plus we think the term ‘coffee pot’ feels a lot less draconian for users than the negative sounding ‘pyramid’. There are enough unhelpful pyramids in organisations without introducing another one.
How to create your brand coffeepot
- The starting point for your brand coffee pot is an online questionnaire completed by key people across your organisation. Why online? Because experience has shown us that ‘workshopping’ this stage is usually counterproductive. Put 10 people in a room and ask them questions and the discussion will be dominated by one or two whilst the rest will not say what they really think for fear or reprisal. Having this initial stage online means that questions will be answered and honestly away from the influence of others. Our survey includes 15 key question areas and takes no more than around 10 minutes to complete. Questions include a SWOT analysis of your business, competitors and marketplace and a deep dive into the problems your business solves for your customers. It also uses prompts to uncover the perceived personality of your brand.
- Organise a 2 hour workshop for key stakeholders to come together to review and discuss the results. Answers to key questions like ‘describe your business in one sentence’ are usually all over the place, with differing ideas. Our experience is that although they may initially appear inconsistent there are usually always some overlapping themes. During the workshop we tease these out and arrive at a consensus everyone can get excited about and support.
- During this session, using the results of the survey, we will complete your brand coffeepot together. No-one likes a blank sheet of paper, so we start with a helpful draft using the results of the online survey. We will also include with some potential options for the essence – always the contentious one! Using this starting point we work together to refine and agree a final version live in the room.
How to bring your brand to life internally
So you’ve created your brand coffeepot and everyone on the board and in marketing is excited, so how do you get the rest of your organisation on board? The answer really depends on the size of your organisation, but the key is simplicity and creativity. Check out some solutions which worked for businesses such as Bentley Motors and Hitachi.