Updated: Oct 17, 2019
I'm often called into businesses to help breathe new life into a brand.
The first stage of any project like this requires listening. It requires proper discovery. I need to get to grips with the way customers currently see the brand, how staff feel about it, the business culture and the vision of the leadership team. I need to get my teeth into it.
Without a detailed understanding, it is impossible to create meaningful change or see where opportunities might lie.
I call this the "discovery" phase. It's the hardest but most rewarding phase of any branding process. It's hard because you have to resist coming to conclusions too soon. You have to be patient with it.
So how do you go about getting the right information to begin to see what you have to work with? Here are some key tips which will help anyone take stock of their brand and begin to frame the opportunity before them.
Heritage Research - The main principle is that for any future strategy to be authentic, we will need to understand the past. The principles of the past help to unlock the possible futures for the brand. So what is the history of the brand or business? In what context was it born? What was the original ambition? Ideally, it would be good to see if you can meet up with the founders. Why did they start the business in the first place?
Location Visits - Where did the business begin? It's important to visits those places if you can. The atmosphere smells and ambience all give a mood you will not get from sitting at a desk. Try and find the original office, house, or room where it all began. Also, visit as many locations as possible as to where the business is now. Not just HQ but a representation of the stores, offices or distribution units globally.
Customer Research - Find loyal and happy customers who love the brand. Speak with as many as you can face to face. Why do they love it? Rarely does this not give me the answer as to what makes this brand special. Once you know, ask them how you could get more people like them to buy into the brand. Focus groups with loyal customers can be the best way to not only get an idea for any special attributes of the brand but also to test new tactical ideas quickly. Use them to fail fast - but fail cheaply. Get as much qualitative research from actually speaking to customers as you can.
Market Survey - This is more qualitative research. Helpful for making solid business cases they allow you to check the mood of potential customers. Send a survey to all your customers or get a research agency to get a sense of a sample of a wide range of potential customers.
Team Research - Conduct some discovery workshops with Business Development / Account Management / Retail teams - asking people within the business who are on the front lines is super helpful. Not only will you get really helpful information around customer drivers and how the brand is presenting itself now it will also get you potential buying from people on the coal face. Some of the information you can glean from the front lines can be very helpful to uncover challenges and even seek for simple solutions.
Touch point reviews - mapping out the end to end customer journey and then reviewing all touchpoints for any given route is helpful to put yourself in the shoes of a customer. See the brand how the customer sees the brand. Experience it as they experience it. Walk through the shop. Click through the website.
Leadership - spend time with the leadership team, both individually and as a collective. Why do they do what they do. What is their ambition for the brand? Where do they see it going? Ultimately aligning the leaders around a clear strategy will be the key to make a meaningful brand of the future.
So - there we have it. Seven activities to do to ensure you can discover where your brand is at. Once you know you can begin to make a business case for change and develop an authentic brand strategy and plan which has the full support of stakeholders. You'll be coming from a place of knowledge, not assumption.
Go get em.