• Brand Strategy
  • Curious

How can we make our values valuable?

08.03.2024

  • Brand Strategy
  • Curious

Our values create an environment for us to push boundaries, create remarkable work, and build a better world. Read on as MD, Nikki Fraser, outlines why and how we codified our culture here at Curious.

At the end of 2022 we reached a pivotal point. We were delivering fantastic work, delighting our clients and seeing our way out of what was, of course, a very challenging couple of years.

But if we’re really honest, we also had some inconsistencies in our approach that created a strain on how we worked together as a team. So we took a breath. And started to try and ask the same questions of ourselves that we did for our clients:

“What makes us important?”

“How are we any better than the other agencies out there?”

“Why do we show up to work every day?”

These questions were naturally quite tricky to answer by ourselves (it’s the position the majority of our clients find themselves in when they come through our door). What is it we truly value as a team? What is it we need to hold ourselves accountable to? We were determined to put our finger on the answer, and avoid the classic pitfalls we see all too often – words on a page that may or may not be added to a website (we’re holding ourselves accountable for this not to be the case here!)

For the first time it felt glaringly obvious that we needed our own set of company values. Statements that everyone, regardless of who you are on the team, can be held up to. A reminder of how we arrive at our best work and enjoy it as well!

We agreed that our values (funnily enough) had to meet the same requirements as the ones we work on with our clients…

Realistic – We won’t all be good at them right away and some will come more naturally than others but everyone should be capable of achieving them.

Restrictive – At times they should feel difficult and constrictive, even stop us from doing things altogether. If they don’t, what purpose are they really serving?

A choice – If they’re realistic it means we have a choice in every situation whether or not to use them. Frankly, choosing not to just isn’t acceptable.

Here we go…

Be curious

This value is about creativity.
Ideas are the very core of what we do here, and we believe they can be found everywhere, by everyone. We always aim to surprise and delight and we hold ourselves up to that standard. It means we always need to be prepared to question and push ourselves to find the right answer, not just the first one.

Make it happen

This value is about getting stuff done. We’re quick to understand problems and identify opportunities, and we’re proactive in solving things. If we get stuck we ask for help, respecting the promises we make to each other. It means we always deliver what’s needed, and we take pride in doing so.

Solve it together

This value is about communication.  Sharing different views, perspectives, ways of doing things make us better. We believe we can always learn from each other, giving clear and honest feedback in a supportive environment. This means we need to create an environment that welcomes open and honest feedback, as this gets the best results.

Fire in your belly

This value is about ambition. When you join Curious, you understand we’re here to do something. Everyone has a role to play in the success we create for ourselves. It means we truly believe in creating the very best work, and that’s what gets us out of bed every day.

Now the real work has to begin in terms of how we can live up to these pretty big statements. We won’t always get it right – and that’s ok. Because we genuinely believe that these four values will keep guiding us forwards, allowing us to tackle the hard days and enjoy the good days – always pushing to be better than the day before.

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    • Brand Strategy
    • Naming

    A Curious guide to naming

    12.09.2023

    • Brand Strategy
    • Naming

    We love a naming project. It takes a unique type of creativity to come up with a good one. Everyone in the Curious team has their own go-to process (some are closely guarded secrets).

    What Romeo got wrong

    You might think naming is easy or unimportant – and you wouldn’t be alone. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare ponders: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

    Technically, he’s correct. But he’s simplifying. He hasn’t acknowledged the subconscious perceptions that names stir in customers’ minds. If roses were called average red weeds, we predicted a lot fewer of them would be sold – no matter how sweet they smelt.

    A smart seller of average red weeds would probably recognise they needed to change something to make their flower shop a success.

    When is a new name necessary?

    Naming briefs come in all shapes and sizes: from new businesses, mergers, and new product ranges to good, old-fashioned rebrands (more on that here) we’ve worked on them all.

    A key part of a brand, a strong name can solve a problem. It’s an anchoring point that gives context to the rest of the brand. It’s part of a good brand strategy – and an introduction to your business.

    You could have the best product out there, but if it has a name that isn’t easy to pronounce or jars with the sentiment of what you’re offering, it can be a big blocker to business.

    Aeria Apartments: A business change means a name change

    When serviced apartment brand Q Apartments first came to us, they were in a period of transition: evolving and simplifying their offering. Creating a holding company, QIG, to sit above their other brands allowed Q Apartments to carve out its own place in the service apartment sector.

    Their industry is crowded. So, it was imperative that their name could act as a clear differentiator in the cluttered space they operate in. What made Q Apartments unique was they really understood what it was like to be somewhere. To feel comfortable. To know what’s what. That’s what our name needed to convey.

    For Q Apartments, the (award-winning) name was Aeria. It’s warm and inviting, has a tangible link to their business and, most importantly, connects to our brand idea: Join the neighbourhood.

    Where does the inspiration come from?

    You can’t look for names in a random fashion. It’s a waste of time and money and will more than likely result in a name that doesn’t resonate with the brand or the audience you are trying to attract.

    Do you need an emotive name to tell a story or a descriptive name that explains your benefit? If you’re struggling to make a mark in your industry, a new word might stick in your customers’ minds – or, if your customers find it hard to understand what you do, a new name could be key to onboarding new customers.

    As with all our branding work, we start with a period of discovery. Putting our curious minds to work, we aim to uncover:

    1. Business challenges – What does the name need to achieve for the business?
    2. Industry context – Are there any trends in competitor names, and what kind of names do customers respond to?
    3. Brand personality – Are they serious, confident, playful? How far will they want to challenge industry conventions?

    All these factors influence the sorts of names that will make it onto our shortlist. The three types of names we then consider are:

    1. Descriptive – These are straightforward names that describe what the company does.
    2. Associative – These are linked, loosely, to what the company does – enough that they will create subconscious connections in the consumers’ minds.
    3. Abstract – These are unique, often made-up words that don’t directly relate to the company’s work.

    The last stage in our preparation is developing thought starters. These are creative jumping-off points taken from our discovery and strategy that we use as a starting point to begin thinking of names. From there, we let our creativity flow.

    Evero: A strategic starting point

    From their name, you’d never be able to tell that the Bioenergy Infrastructure Group (or BIG for short) were pioneering, innovative and creative – but they are. They’re at the fore of new waste management techniques, devising ways to turn what we throw away back into something useful.

    Discovering more about their work confirmed they needed a new name to change perceptions and elevate them to more than a waste company. It had to encompass the brand purpose we had uncovered: powering the potential.

    Using clues from the discovery, we developed three creative starting points:

    1. Transformation: changing something to be better
    2. Propelling forwards: an exciting step into the future
    3. Making connections: seeing the hidden opportunities. Working collaboratively to figure it out

    From these, a clear winner emerged: Evero. It captures their determination to transform perceptions and practices around waste as well as their commitment to never stop evolving.

    The complete case study is available to read here.

    Naming is a collaborative process

    We apply the creativity of the whole agency to naming. In our kick-off meetings, thought starters are briefed, and initial ideas are sparked. And then, after some initial thinking, we come back together as a team to share our initial thoughts. Hearing others’ ideas gives everyone new avenues to explore.

    After a few rounds of suggestions and some light copyright checks (no lawyers involved yet), we put together a shortlist of names we feel best fulfil our brief.

    This always involves a bit of debate in the studio. Though there are often a few clear favourites, everyone has different opinions on which names should make it through (usually their own).

    How do we know if a name is any good?

    There are a few rules that we always have in mind when it comes to naming. Keep it simple, pronounceable, translatable, and trademarkable. And remember, naming is subjective – there is no one perfect name for every business.

    When we present our shortlist, we show the origin of every name, how it relates to their business and give examples of how it might be used in headlines and social media handles – this helps bring each option to life.

    We genuinely believe that every name on our list would make an excellent name for the brand. But it’s up to the client to choose their favourite. And it’s personal taste that ultimately influences which name is chosen.

    What a name can’t do

    It’s vital to bear in mind that a name can’t do everything by itself. It needs to work in tandem with the rest of the brand to create a coherent and authentic impression of a company.

    Often, we use creative hints hidden in the name in other parts of the brand. It’s great when this happens because it means we can create a consistent message throughout every brand aspect.

    TKF, Naming, design

    The Kite Factory: How name and design work together

    MC&C were a media company with a difference. Unlike their competition, they put equal importance on creativity and data to drive their work, which meant they produced was not only visually very cool but also had clear targets and results.

    When we re-named MC&C to The Kite Factory, our strategy focused on their ability to take ideas, grounded in data, and make them take flight.

    The Kite Factory is a gift of a name, and we had a lot of fun thinking of creative ways we could bring it to life. The charming twist in the design is that although it’s alluded to throughout the new brand, you never see the kite. See how we transformed the name into a brand here.

    Don’t underestimate the power of naming

    Your name is your first chance to make an impression and a connection with a customer. As naming veterans, we know that whilst naming can be a fun and creative exercise, it can also be frustrating. There’s a lot of pressure to find one (or a few) words that sum up your business.

    If you’re struggling to make the connection, we can help. Get in touch to start your journey to a new name.

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      • Brand Strategy
      • Sustainability

      A lesson in living brand purpose

      05.01.2023

      • Brand Strategy
      • Sustainability

      Curious MD Nikki Cunningham recently wrote an article praising Patagonia’s decision to donate itself to charity. Their dedication to their brand values is admirable, and it got us thinking, which other companies put their money where their mouth is when it comes to purpose? And what happens when brands miss the mark?

      School’s in session

      The model student: Patagonia

      Perhaps the ultimate example. We recently wrote about Patagonia’s decision to donate the majority of their shares to charity is only the latest in a long history of actions that aid their purpose. Patagonia proudly proclaim their purpose and because they consistently perform actions that support their pledge to save the planet, consumers with a strong environmental conscious chose to support them.

      Still learning: boohoo

      At the same time as Patagonia made their big announcement, Kourtney Kardashian Barker unveiled her new position as ‘sustainability ambassador’ at boohoo. In her own words, she admits that she ‘doesn’t have all the answers’ but believes any progress towards sustainability is ‘a step in the right direction’.

      This is a nice sentiment, but it is hard to believe boohoo are genuinely committed to a more sustainable agenda. They add 700 new styles to their site every week (Source) and have a reputation for treating staff poorly. Even within the capsule collection that they have released to celebrate the partnership, not all the clothes are made from recycled materials. Less talk, more action needed.

      Star pupil: Bodyform

      Period product seller Bodyform are on a mission to dismantle taboos and shame around women’s bodies. They have a clear image of their audience and know what makes them tick: their bold brand communications speak directly to them and speak about issues they care about.

      Bodyform will be well aware that acknowledging the complicated relationship women have with their bodies will offend and displease some who see their marketing material, but for their target audience, this frank approach is what might ultimately convert them to becoming customers.

       

      Class clown: McDonald’s

      In 2019, McDonald’s swapped their plastic straws for paper. On the surface, this seemed like a great idea; single use plastic was a big issue at the time. But, when it was revealed that the new paper straws couldn’t be recycled, whereas the plastic ones could, McDonald’s was left looking foolish.

      The unfortunate (and let’s be honest slightly comedic) incident made appear to consumers that McDonald’s cared more about having green associations than reducing their environmental impact.

      A dedicated student: Who Gives a Crap…

      Do one thing really well. That’s what we can learn from toilet paper brand Who Gives a Crap. Purpose has clearly driven the creation of their brand. Their way of generating income (loo roll subscriptions) is undoubtedly related to their core purpose of ending toilet poverty. It’s easy for their consumers to understand and link them in their minds.

      They experienced exponential growth in popularity over lockdown but kept their activities simple. This has meant their purpose has not been diluted.

      Could try harder: Knorr (H3)

      Knorr proclaim that wholesome, nutritious food should be accessible to all – an admirable goal. But when you look at their range which contains products like ‘Butter flavour’ pasta you have to wonder if their taste team might have let purpose slip their mind.


      Lessons learnt

      Looking at the examples above, there’s a lot we can learn from the way they approach purpose – both good and bad.

      Keep purpose front of mind (H3)

      Purpose is your brand’s reason for existing. For it to be authentic, purpose can’t be something you arbitrarily decide on when starting your business. It needs to be true to you, and you need to be able to demonstrate continually.

      To grow your reputation as a purpose-led brand may take time and will require commitment. One reason Patagonia has succeeded where Knorr has failed is that they have consistently completed actions that further their aim of helping the planet. Purpose comes through all aspects of their business, including how and what they make – not just in their marketing.

      Mass appeal isn’t everything

      When considering purpose, it can be tempting to pick a popular issue, but you need to be honest about what motivates you and go from there. Not everyone will buy into your brand, and that’s okay. If you resonate with your target audience, that’s all that matters.

      Bodyform’s success comes down to how well they know their audience. They know they might offend or put off some consumers, but they don’t care: if you’re offended, then you’re not who they’re talking to.

      Stay in your lane

      You don’t need to comment on every issue. If a topic something isn’t related to your product, purpose or business, you might appear inauthentic if you try to claim it’s important to you.

      boohoo make fashionable products that are up-to-date and affordable. They are a fashion brand for a social generation and have their finger on the pulse of popular culture. However, their production model and attitude towards fast fashion makes them seeminsinsere when they comment on sustainability.

      Want to enrol?

      Building brand purpose is Curious’ bread and butter – we work with all kinds of brands to discover, verbalise and visualise their purpose. We’ve put together a guide on how to do it. But the SparkNotes version is, you need to start by asking yourself why. Why does your business do what you do? Not how you do it, or what you do, but why. If you can answer that question, that’s your purpose.

      It can take a lot of thought and head-scratching, but if you can find your purpose (and stick to it), it can bring your business lots of benefits. Purposeful brands have credibility and respect from consumers and increased loyalty from consumers who share the values they represent. They also tend to have good brand recognition and high public opinion. So, what are you waiting for? Time to get to work.

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        • Brand Strategy

        How do you approach a Cost of Living Christmas?

        20.12.2022

        • Brand Strategy

        For most of us, the run-up to Christmas is full of excitement, mince pies and cheer. But, this year, it’s hard to hard to ignore that things feel a little different. Worries about rising costs and an advent of strikes have made it harder to relax into the Christmas spirit.

        For a Christmas like this, where spend spend spend is less likely to land than usual, we were curious to see how brands would respond.

        This year’s Christmas adverts reviewed

        Last year the focus was on kindness and optimism following another year of Covid troubles. Brands have had to walk a fine line this year. They want us to spend money, but times are tough, and anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that in at least a subtle way risks damaging any brand loyalty they’ve built up.

        As we conducted our extensive research, a few strategies kept coming up.

        No change

        For some brands, it was business as usual. No pause to reflect on the situation surrounding the festivities: these adverts could come from any year.

        Asda: Have your ‘elf in Merry Christmas

        One of life’s biggest what if’s – would Buddy the elf thrive in an Asda store? This advert is so skillfully edited it’s hard to believe it wasn’t purpose-made. Fair play to the creative team. By harnessing the appeal of one of the most loved Christmas films, they skillfully sidestep having to address the cost of living at all.

        Morrisons: Farmer Christmas Returns

        Focusing on the quality of its food feels like another sidestep from Morrisons. But, unlike Asda, their advert isn’t innovative and impressive, which makes it harder to forgive.

        A gentle nod

        It’s a tough line to tread, acknowledging times are harder whilst still encouraging consumers to part with their hard-earned cash, but these brands trod the tightrope.

        TK Maxx: Christmas Nailed

        TK Maxx’s USP is surprising finds at low prices, which made it easier for them (compared to luxury brands) when thinking about this year’s advert.

        The protagonist, Sam, is congratulated by her whole town for finding such marvellous gifts at excellent value. The positive reaction to the bargain-finding prowess tells viewers no one will look down on you for finding a great day. It’s silly, indulgent, and over the top in a way that contrasts with the more earnest tone taken by many this year. But, for TK Maxx, that feels right.

        Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference: Once Upon a Pud

        There was a subtle re-direct from Sainsbury’s. Instead of emphasizing the luxurious (expensive) nature of their Taste the Difference range, this year they’ve placed the emphasis on Difference.

        In their advert, a chef is challenged to create a new dessert for a demanding Alison Hammond who announces she’s never really liked Christmas pudding (relatable). The result is a caramelised biscuit twist on the classic, which goes down a treat.

        Whilst the cost of living isn’t hinted at in the advert itself, which has a royal backdrop, the change in tactic means this advert belongs in the ‘gentle nod’ category. A sensible decision from Sainsbury’s marketing team.

        A complete rethink

        The third tactic we saw was going back to what Christmas is all about. By demonstrating a commitment to charity, family or quality time, these businesses took the focus off spending and promoted togetherness, kindness and compassion Ironically, doing this well will probably result in more sales for them.

        Amazon: Joy is made

        As the title suggests, Amazon’s Christmas tale shows us happiness is found in the moments we spend together and the actions we take to make our loved ones happy. It’s heartwarming to see the dad in the advert go to so much effort to make his daughter smile – though he did order a few supplies on Amazon to make that happen!

        Lidl: Lidl Bear

        Lidl’s new Christmas character is a no-nonsense, no-named bear that finds unexpected fame when it rocks one of their Christmas jumpers. After getting caught up in the lifestyle of the rich and famous, the bear ultimately realises what matters to him most is being with his family.

        The plot of this advert might not be groundbreaking, but the actions that go along with it show Lidl’s good intentions. You can’t buy the bear in any of their stores. Instead of monetizing it, they’ve used it as a call to action for their customers to contribute to a toy drive instead. Which they are also donating to.

        John Lewis: The Beginner

        Every year the opening chords of a reworked classic song tell us John Lewis are about to pull on our heartstrings. So, this year, as the opening notes of All the Small Things played, we were ready. But, it was not a traditional John Lewis advert that followed.

        Instead, we see the trials and tribulations of a man learning to skateboard, which we discover at the end of the advert he has done to bond with his new foster daughter. The advert was stripped back and understated, which makes sense in the current social and political context and highlights the work of John Lewis’s Building Happier Futures Programme that supports children living in care.

        Tesco: The Christmas Party

        Tesco has not shied away from addressing the issues facing the UK this Christmas. In fact, they’ve formed their own political party to solve them – or some of them, anyway. It’s positive and fun. Tesco has sensed the current mood, and it’s refreshing they’ve gone down a less melancholy route than some of their competitors.

        Being a supermarket with lower prices gives Tesco permission to take this path. They can promise the lower prices consumers need. Waitrose and Marks and Spencers could never make this advert – it wouldn’t match their brand.

        Is there a right answer?

        When it comes to brand, it’s never as simple as a one size fits all answer. Despite a myriad of different approaches, almost every ad on this list is effective in its own way. As usual, it all comes back to strategy. The brands on our list have different audiences, purposes and personalities, which influence how they can best express themselves.

        Brands that consistently have great marketing campaigns are the ones that know themselves well. Because ultimately, it’s not about finding the one approach that works but finding the approach that works for your brand.

         

         

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          From the team: An excellent example of living your truth

          27.09.2022

          • Brand Strategy
          • Sustainability

          Curious MD Nikki Cunningham talks about how Patagonia lives and breathes its brand purpose and how other brands should take note. (Warning: it’s not easy to achieve).

          In business to save the planet

          Last week, Yvon Chouinard, founder of outdoor clothing and equipment retailer Patagonia, made a surprise announcement that he had donated the company. The entire company. A move that means, after reinvestment, all of Patagonia’s profits will be donated to charities that will fight the environmental crisis, protect nature and biodiversity, and support thriving communities.

          At a time when trust in many forms is low, it’s refreshing to see a brand following through on what it says it believes in. Though that in itself is a problem – why is it we don’t trust what brands say, and what can they do to restore our faith?

          The overcommunication issue

          Brand purpose is regarded with scepticism. Almost all businesses make grand acclimations about their purpose, and only a few live up to their promise. Too often, companies think they can fulfil their purpose by putting out official statements in response to current events. In other words, be lazy.

          In normal circumstances, we’re big fans of communication; it’s vital for healthy, happy relationships. But, when you’re speaking for the sake of speaking, you do your brand more harm than good. Not backing up what you say with actions will make consumers doubt you mean what you say. Inauthenticity is far worse than if you said nothing.

          Patagonia founder Yvon Choinard. Image Tom Frost

           

          Why does purpose work for Patagonia?

          ‘We appreciate that all life on earth is under threat of extinction. We’re using the resources we have – our business our investments, our voice and our imaginations – to do something about it.’

          From any other company this might sound like empty words, but for Patagonia, this sentiment guides everything they do. They don’t just talk about caring for the environment – they do something about it. They live their purpose.

          A timeline of action

          1985: 1% for the planet was launched. Patagonia began to donate 1% of every sale to climate charities.
          2007: The Footprint Chronicles is launched. It traces the social and environmental impact of Patagonia’s products.
          2012: Patagonia became a certified B Corporation and registered as a benefit corporation in the State of California.
          2017: Merchandise in good condition can be returned for new merchandise credits. The used merchandise is cleaned, repaired and sold on its “Worn Wear” website.
          2019: ReCrafted was launched. It creates and sells clothing made from scraps of fabric from used Patagonia gear.
          2020: Patagonia suspended its advertising on Facebook and Instagram as part of the “stop Hate for Profit” campaign.
          2022. Patagonia is donated to charity.

          And this timeline doesn’t account for all of the indirect effects Patagonia has had. From funding charities, helping grassroots groups, and the actions of individuals inspired by their films, books and articles.

          Throughout its almost 50 years of trading, Patagonia has always been committed to producing good quality, long-lasting products that don’t cost the earth. They’ve used actions to back up their words. They’ve lived their purpose.

          Will others follow?

          For Patagonia, donating themselves to charity wasn’t as rash a move as it might have initially appeared; they have a long history of action. It would undoubtedly be difficult for other companies to do the same as Patagonia. Their history, structure and employees who share the company’s vision all mean they can enact change much more quickly than a standard business. But, we hope that it encourages others to consider how to go beyond words and act on their purpose. What they actually believe in. Wouldn’t that be something.

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            • Brand Strategy
            • Branding

            A Curious guide to conducting a competitor brand audit

            08.06.2021

            • Brand Strategy
            • Branding

            When it comes to building a strong business you won’t be able to position yourself without conducting thorough research into the competition. Your brand strategy needs to be stress-tested against rivals in order to confirm it is unique. You need to establish what’s in the market, what’s working and what isn’t and understand how your audience is responding in order to set yourself apart.

            So, here is our five step guide to carrying out a successful competitor audit.

            1. Start close to home

            If you don’t carefully analyse your own brand you won’t have the full scope of what others are doing differently. Examine the core elements of your brand – your website, sales collateral, presentations – and work out what should stay and what can go. That way you’ll know what you’ve got to work with.

            2. Look to the future

            Consider where your company is heading in the next few years. Are you planning to launch new services? Develop any new products? Open an office overseas? The competitors you face today will change tomorrow. Keep these questions top of mind to ensure you capture everyone in your net.

            3. Break it all down

            When it comes to breaking down a rival brand, separate out all of the assets to analyse them more closely.

            • Which touchpoint demonstrates their brand best?
            • Which asset best illustrates their visual identity?
            • Where do they best demonstrate their verbal language?

            There are countless places a brand can show up, from logo and tagline to packaging, products and brochure via sales literature, ad campaigns, websites and apps. Ensure you are covering them all in your analysis.

            4. Go both verbal and visual

            Consider the brand from both verbal and visual angles: a brand may appear on the surface to lack good visual design, but their tone of voice can be quite powerful and hit the mark with audiences.

            Brand language

            Examine both the top line messaging across a brand as well as the overall style.

            • Is it consistent, relatable or ownable?
            • Is it passive or proactive?
            • Who is the primary target audience?
            • If their brand was a person, what sort of personality do they have?

            Visual identity

            This refers to everything from logos, colours and typography to iconography, imagery and video.

            • What grabs your attention?
            • What feeling does it give off?
            • Is it consistent?
            • Is it unique?

            5. Examine the final picture

            Once you’ve interrogated all the assets, match them up against each other and add yourself into the mix to see where you sit and where the white space is. This process is called brand segmentation.

            A few things to think about as you do this final step…

            • What area/s is each competitor trying to own?
            • How much does their brand tie into this?
            • Does their messaging convey their positioning consistently?
            • How does the overall experience of their brand support this?

            In summary

            Once you’ve got this down on paper, you’ll have a clear and objective understanding of not just the competition, but also your own strengths and weaknesses. You can then use this to create a unique brand positioning. Because the truth is if you don’t know what your competition is doing today, how are you supposed to know what to do tomorrow?

             

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              • Branding

              When brands fight back: How to counter a rival brand attack in style

              07.05.2021

              • Brand Strategy
              • Branding

              Whatever your business, whether it’s consumer-facing brands or b2b client work, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and getting an edge over the competition is essential. But what happens when the competition plays dirty?

               

              We were recently approached by a business whose nearest rival had started a digital campaign against them, ensuring anyone who searched for the business online would find derogatory results, detailing why the rival company was apparently better. Borderline illegal? Perhaps. Immediate action required? Definitely.

              While not a million miles away from the M&S and Aldi Colin vs Cuthbert conundrum, we thought it was time to put together a 101 on how to fight back when a rival isn’t playing fair.

              When you’re in a position like this the temptation is to lie low, keep quiet and essentially hope it all goes away. But is that the right thing to do? Absolutely not. Doing nothing shows weakness – or at least vulnerability – and implies to customers and staff that you don’t care. It delays any action that’s needed to get back your edge, and quite aside from being bad for team morale it could seriously jeopardise your reputation long term.

              We hope you won’t need this but, in the event, you need to fight back in style, here is Curious’s five-step guide to combating rival brand attacks

              1. Change the conversation

              If the competition goes for your ‘weak spot’, flip the conversation and redirect people’s attention to your areas of strength. Laying down the gauntlet on your terms will give you the power. Pursue the competitor on these points single-mindedly and call out any diversion tactics as an inability to respond. You can do this with humour, you can do it with humility or you can do it with candour. The key thing is that it gets done.

              2. Fight fire with the facts

              If the competition attacks with supposed “proof”, then you’d be wise to put it under a magnifying glass. Now is the time to bring in your own specialists and create a counter-attack. Pick holes in their points, uncover their mistruths and exhibit their naivety. It’s important to stay calm and take them apart in an ice cold fashion.

              3. Listen and learn

              Take note and acknowledge that the area of the business that’s under fire is potentially falling short. This is in fact the perfect moment to take a step back, re-evaluate the business’ offering/position in the market and regroup. From here it’s about developing these problem areas and turning them into strengths that can be publicised and offered to consumers.

              4. Remind the world

              To be in a position where rival brands need to take a swipe means you must have been doing something right. Remember what makes your brand great and remind the world about it. Communicate with potential customers why you’re such an important asset, whilst reaching out to your current customers to remind them about what you’ve done for them and the industry so far.

              5. Prioritise digital

              The world is digital at its core. And as consumers increasingly spend more of their lives online, it will become a key battleground for brands. There are two key opportunities to enhance your brand on digital. The first is to embrace social media and form a content strategy to help educate, entertain and engage consumers. The second is to improve UX design to create a truly seamless online experience for users; making them fall in love with your platform and keep coming back for more.

              Even the most basic psychology will tell you that if you come under fire from a competitor then they feel threatened by you. Keep this in mind at all times and while it’s crucial you don’t sink to their level, your response will shape how strongly you come out of the encounter.

               

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                How can charities rise from the ashes of Coronavirus?

                03.03.2021

                • Brand Strategy
                • Digital
                • Branding

                From the ashes, a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring’ –  J.R.R. Tolkien

                The pandemic has changed the world as we know it. Industries, from travel all the way through to entertainment, have been severely affected by Coronavirus. But none of these have been tougher to witness than the impact on the charity sector.

                What has been so concerning is that as the pandemic has worsened, demand for charity services has increased but overall income has fallen. A vicious loop which has led to charities in the UK losing an estimated £4.3 billion (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) already, whilst 60% more people are now dependent on essential charity donations (Charity Today). In short, charities have never been so needed and yet they have never been so vulnerable themselves.

                However, sometimes out of the darkest moments comes the brightest of lights. The British public never fails to support a good cause and donated a staggering total of £5.4 billion to charity between January and June 2020 – an increase of £800 million compared to the same period in 2019 (CAF). There was a surge in volunteering and inspirational figures such as Captain Sir Tom Moore stepped up to raise money for NHS charities.

                In spite of these heroics and the kindness of the nation, the situation has unfortunately remained bleak with analysis by independent charity Pro Bono Economics predicting that out of the UK’s 170,000 charities, one in 10 could face bankruptcy, with smaller charities being most at risk. Even high-profile names such as Children In Need and Royal British Legion’s annual poppy appeal have been hit, with both experiencing declines in overall donations.

                In uncertain times like these, dramatic action is needed. Charities must be hard on themselves and identify even the smallest of weaknesses that could be holding them back. Weaknesses must be turned into strengths and used to help them grow. If a charity can rise out of the pandemic, it will never stop.

                Rising from the ashes: 4 focus areas

                Strengthen the brand

                The way a charity represents itself to the public is crucial. A strong brand positioning creates differentiation in the market, enables a connection with consumers and ultimately helps build trust. It also helps increase income as consistent branding across all channels increases revenue by 23% (Forbes). A brand DNA consists of everything, from the personality and tone of voice, through to distinctive assets such as a logo, typeface and sound design that will build mental recall with consumers. By re-evaluating their brand make up and ensuring consistency across communication platforms, charities will have a strong foundation to build upon moving forward.

                Utilise the power of data

                According to a recent survey carried out by Loqate and Acevo, a shocking 66% of charities aren’t confident in their own data. Areas such as analytics, consumer experience, campaign management and reporting all risk being damaged, which can directly impact an organisation’s efficiency and reputation. With data decaying by 20% year on year, it is integral that charities implement a data driven culture to ensure they don’t damage their brand, infringe on GDPR regulations and lose out on revenue. The key is to identify what data you need, then establish how to collect it and ultimately how to use it effectively.

                Engage new audiences

                For brands, targeting the correct consumers is fundamental to success both in terms of engagement, but also profit. One tactic to increase profits is to diversify when it comes to audience and look outside the box for future donators. Charity target audiences have traditionally been made up of older demographics. However, a report published by Blackbaud revealed UK Generation Zers and Millennials are in fact the most generous givers. Charities would be wise to open their arms to younger potential donators and explore how to appeal to them moving forwards.

                Harness digital channels

                The world is digital, and for that reason, it is crucial that charities utilise key touchpoints to engage with their audiences. The website is an important place to start as it’s seen as the hub. Simplicity wins in this domain particularly when it comes to the donation page, with over a quarter of web users (26%) dropping out if there are too many fields to complete (Loqate). Email is also a key channel and still ranks best for ROI. Emphasis should be put on email engagement journeys, using compelling imagery and the power of personalisation. Social media, on the other hand, offers charities the chance to experiment with content such as Instagram stories to communicate a narrative and drive donations.

                Embracing these areas will allow charities the chance to strengthen their brand for the future and rise once and for all.

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                  You can’t shake hands through Skype: How can you build trust online?

                  22.02.2021

                  • Brand Strategy
                  • Branding

                  Our favourite Brand philosopher, Simon Sinek, has suggested that trust requires a uniquely personal touch that cannot be replicated through technology. His firmly held belief in the need for in-person interactions led Sinek to assert that the video call would never replace the business trip.

                  In 2021 this is not our reality. With all travel more or less cancelled, not only has the video call replaced the business trip but also the 9 am office meeting.  Which makes now the perfect time to revisit his argument and ask ourselves some difficult questions about trust:

                  • What do we need to know about someone to trust them?
                  • Can you trust someone you’ve never met?
                  • Do we have the same trust with people as with businesses?
                  • Is Sinek right to suggest that as a society we trust less than we used to?

                  What is ‘trust’?

                  For the sake of simplicity, we will use Sinek’s own definition of trust: a feeling that comes from a set of mutual values and beliefs which allows us to be able to be vulnerable and take risks.

                  From a branding perspective, trusting a brand often means choosing to spend your money with them over the competition. The risk you take is financial, and you are vulnerable until the company has completed their part of the transaction, hopefully to the standard you expected.

                  Is it like Simon says?

                  Sinek’s definition is built on the idea that shared values bring about trust. He talks about trust as if it is simple. Something that, if all the conditions are correct, almost naturally occurs. However, the truth is that trust is not as rational as he makes it sound. 

                  People make subconscious decisions about whether to trust others based on irrational signals. Psychology experiments have shown that people tend to agree on whether others look trustworthy. But there is no evidence to suggest that those who ‘look trustworthy’ are more trustworthy than average. Read more here

                  Source: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00160/full

                   

                  And, Sinek underestimates the amount of underlying trust people have in the world around them. Without even thinking about it, we trust pilots to be sober and alert, drivers to stay in their lanes, and your alarm to wake you up in the morning. It is often not until this trust is broken that we start to question what, why, and who we trust.

                  Think about it, when you were a child trusted implicitly; you had no reason not to – and it suited your parents and teachers if you believed everything they said! It’s not until people begin to let you down or betray your trust you became wary and sceptical about where to place your trust.

                  Can we influence trust?

                  Even if trust is illogical, there are still ways to influence it. The psychology behind trust is evolving, but one theory suggests that possessing particular attributes make it more likely that others will trust you, such as:

                  Ability; can you do what you are promising? This is situation-specific; you might trust your accountant to do your tax return but not to babysit. 

                  Benevolence; do you have our best interests at heart? This attribute might explain why you keep trusting unreliable friends.

                  Integrity; do you have a set of values you live by? And do we share these values with you? 

                  We don’t explicitly ask ourselves these questions when deciding whether to trust someone. We do not often consciously consider trust at all. Instead, we pick up subconscious signals that result in the gut feeling we can choose to act on.

                  You can’t shake hands through Skype

                  If we accept that these attributes can encourage trust, then we need to look at the situations in which they can arise. For example, can you get a sense of someone’s integrity through a video call, and can we sense them in non-human things such as businesses?

                  There will always be some element of human interaction that doesn’t come across online. Although, as we get more used to online calls, we will improve our ability to be authentic online. This will help us to read the people we are talking to and build relationships with them.

                  Besides, you don’t need in-person interactions to pick up on attributes that influence trust. Ability, benevolence and integrity can come through in actions as well as conversations.

                  In brands, we trust

                  Just as with people, we get a feeling from brands about whether we can trust them.  Strong brands, guided by purpose, have distinctive personalities, tone of voice and values. If their marketing and communications teams are doing a good job, their audiences will pick up on these and build closer relationships with them. 

                  Patagonia is an excellent example of a strong brand. Visit their website or scroll through their Instagram and it’s immediately clear, sustainability is at the heart of what they do. Their whole brand is built around letting people enjoy natural environments in a way that doesn’t hurt them. They talk about this more than they do their clothes and, importantly, sustainability is something that they practice as well as preach. 

                  Source: https://eu.patagonia.com/gb/en/home/

                   

                  The importance of following through

                  Both brands’ rhetoric and their actions contribute to trusting relationships with their customers. Saying ‘you can trust us’ is not enough. Companies need to demonstrate their values and allow them to guide their decisions. If their actions do not match up with what they say, it can damage their reputation and the level of trust their customers have in them

                  Take McDonald’s as an example of this not going to plan – when people learned that their recyclable straws weren’t in fact recyclable, they lost that trust from their audience that they were trying to ‘do good’. Though they talked about reducing their environmental impact, McDonald’s’ actions showed this was not something they truly cared about, which damaged their integrity. However, other brands have been more successful in demonstrating the characteristics required to encourage trust.

                  Who does this well?

                  The finance sector is reliant on trust. Unless you’ve channelled your inner pirate, and have buried your valuables, your money is looked after by financial institutions. This is a risk because the decisions they make could cause you to lose a lot of money: you are extremely vulnerable to them. The level of trust required to deposit your life savings with a bank is much higher than that needed to try a new restaurant or buy a new TV. This means that businesses in this sector need to put more work into being trustworthy.

                  When Cashflows’, the payment solution company, asked us to develop their new identity, we knew that we had to build a brand that their customers would trust. A brand that shows they can deliver the simplified solutions they advertise. And that clearly explains the benefits of their services to their customers. The visual identity we created, focused around creating business flow, helps to develop this. Read the full case study here.

                  It’s up to Cashflows to maintain their brands’ integrity. They can do this by being consistent in their offering, putting their customers first, and continuing to let their purpose guide their actions.

                  Our verdict 

                  It’s not as simple as Simon says. Trust is a complicated concept, many factors influence it, some of which are out of our control. Having said that there are things you can do to make it more likely that others will trust you. 

                  Sinek’s suggestion that business will never move online has been disproved – in a way none of us predicted. But decreased human interaction doesn’t have to result in a decrease in trust. People, and brands, who continue to demonstrate ability, benevolence and integrity in a manner that is authentic to them can maintain trust without in-person communication.

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                    From the team: Is resensitising a word? Because it should be.

                    16.02.2021

                    • Brand Strategy
                    • Branding

                    MD Nikki Cunningham shares her thoughts on some of the extraordinary work that’s come out of this unusual time.

                     

                    Google: Did you mean desensitising? 

                    The other week I shared the stunning masterpiece that was the new Macmillan advert and as I searched for a way to express the reason why everyone needed to watch it immediately, I found myself googling whether ‘resensitising’ was a word or not. 

                    Turns out, it technically is (you’ll get 14 points on Scrabble) but given the little red underline as I type it out, and Google’s insistence that  I mean desensitising, I guess it is a word but not one that’s regularly in use.  

                    Here’s the thing: it definitely should be. In fact, it should be up there with the very best words. You know the really good ones that are just lovely to use. Like sumptuous or miraculous. Something that immediately captures what you feel in that particular moment.  

                    But it’s not, and that’s probably because its older sibling is too busy throwing itself around. 

                    Desensitisation isn’t a difficult concept to understand. In a similar way to tuning out your mother remonstrating against your untidy teenage bedroom, anything repeated too often without adding any value – i.e. an interesting thought or a different opinion – the inevitable effect will be that it no longer holds attention. It becomes unimportant. Uninteresting. And just all round ineffective.

                    In the worst cases, it actively works against you. A good example is the plinky plonk piano soundtrack that must have been purchased by every major corporate brand back in March who just weren’t quite sure what on earth to do. The Zoom mosaic was also a personal favourite, as was, of course, the ‘now, more than ever’ rhetoric we all know and love so much. 

                    With every appearance of one of those elements, our minds switch off. Why? Because we’d had enough of it. And that was just two weeks into it. Enough of the disingenuous claims of care. Enough of the lacklustre efforts to pull at our heartstrings. Enough of seeing brands pop up who hadn’t spoken to us in years and suddenly exclaim their love and support of ‘us’. It sort of felt like an ex-best friend sliding into your inbox to ask how you were doing, only to follow with the usual request to stay at your flat for their long weekend in London that they didn’t tell you about. It was lazy. And above all else, fake. And that’s a curse I wouldn’t wish upon any brand. 

                    So how do you combat that? How can you keep your message of the moment…interesting…fresh? How do you stop the desensitised state of the world post-pandemic?  

                    It’s simple – do what MacMillan did. Resensitise. Breathe life into the screen. In that advert, every moment counted. Every note of the soundtrack was thought about. For goodness sake, even the microwave ‘bing’ gave me chills because it was so accurate. So horrifyingly true. And so effortlessly simple to convey. 

                    Brands need to think about something that for some reason felt alien to a lot of them up until very recently. Be a little braver. A little more honest. Maybe a touch more human.   

                    Remember who you’re talking to, and most importantly, remember what you’re selling. This isn’t about going for Braveheart emotion if you’re selling sofas. There are other ways to engage on a more human level. Don’t insult audiences with false messages if you don’t mean them. We’re more sophisticated than that. Give credit to them and be a bit bolder in a way that makes the most sense. 

                    Try to make resensitising a thing. 

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                      The kids are online: The importance of brand in the digital space

                      11.03.2021

                      • Brand Strategy
                      • Digital

                      Through the lens of retail, we take a look at how advancements in technology have shifted business online and what this means for brands going forward.

                      What’s been going on with retail?

                      We’ve been hearing about the declining footfall for years. It’s on the news, and it’s in the boarded-up shops of our local high street. Improvements in technology have meant it’s now so much easier to buy something online than to go to a shop to find it. Even before Coronavirus forced us all indoors, many of us were choosing online shopping over popping to the shops.

                      Will Covid be the nail in the high street’s coffin?

                      Non-essential shops have been closed for much of the last year. Any items that can’t be found in supermarkets, garden centres or hardware stores had to be bought online. This has forced people who wouldn’t normally consider online shopping to rely on it. And, now that they’ve tried it, many people will continue to shop online. According to BrandWatch, 73% of people who bought clothes online during lockdown will continue to do so in the future.

                      But before we condemn in-person shopping to the past, we should consider why it has survived up to now. There are two main reasons people still visit stores.

                      The first reason people might prefer shopping in person is if they don’t feel comfortable shopping online. Those of us who didn’t grow up with the technology for online shopping might not feel confident using it.

                      The second reason is simply that people enjoy going shopping. It’s fun. And sometimes we want to see the items we’re considering in real life before we buy them. Even though Gen-Zers are twice as likely as millennials to shop on their phones, two-thirds of them still prefer to shop in person (BelVG).

                      What will shopping look like in the post-pandemic world?

                      We predict that, when they can, most people will go back to physical shopping (always or occasionally). After all, we saw how busy the shops were before Christmas.

                      But, online shopping will have won new converts as more people than ever have tried it. After the initial wave of excitement of the relaxation of Covid restrictions dies down, highstreets will once again see a decline in footfall as the convenience of online shopping wins beats the excitement of shopping in person.

                      In the medium to long term, we predict more closures. The casualties will be shops that can’t turn shopping into the experience that consumers crave. Retail parks and shopping centres that offer other activities alongside shopping are better placed to do this. Even pre-pandemic, they had a higher footfall than high street shops (British Retail Consortium).

                      What’s it to us?

                      So, the internet is going nowhere – that shouldn’t be news to anyone. The increasing reliance on the digital sphere in business will affect all industries, not just retail. To be competitive, companies are going to have to grow their digital offering. But it’s important to remember that technology won’t be what sets them apart. Everyone will be able to offer similar things. What will make companies stand out is how well their online experience encapsulates their brand. This is where we come in.

                      What do you need to consider when looking at your digital presence?

                      On top of a seamless UX/UI experience, companies need to make sure their brand is consistent and optimised to every platform the consumer interacts with. There should be no disconnect between how a brand feels and presents itself online and in person. A bad experience with either could mean a consumer completes their purchase journey elsewhere.

                      Interested in finding out more about what makes a great digital experience? Read our interview with Curious’ Digital Creative Director.

                      To deliver a consistent experience, businesses will need to know themselves and their customers. Understanding their purpose and personality will influence how they use technology and present themselves in the digital space. Doing this well will set them apart from the competition. Learn how to uncover your brand purpose here.

                      The receipts

                      Tech is already changing retail. If the trends we’re seeing continue, retailers will rely more on online sales and have fewer physical stores. There will be less opportunity for in-person interaction which means digital touchpoints will need to work harder and embody the brand in a more meaningful way.

                      As companies continue to explore what technology can do for them, they must not lose sight of who they are. Not all companies will use tech in the same way – and that’s a good thing – differences create interest. The companies who understand their purpose and harness technology in a way that amplifies their brand will be those who benefit most from the opportunities technological advancements provide.

                      With this in mind, now is the perfect time for companies to reflect. Ask fundamental questions about their business and consumers. Go back to basics and consider why they do what they do. With a strong sense of identity and purpose to guide them, businesses can harness technology in a way that is authentic to their brand and feels natural to their customers.

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                        Covid-19: How to plot the right course for your brand

                        09.09.2020

                        • Brand Strategy

                        Ever wondered what life would be like if you had a crystal ball? Or what about just a simple genie in a lamp Aladdin style? Us too. But alas, despite staring into our snow globes over these past few months we haven’t had much luck predicting what might happen now things are opening up again. That’s ok though – if we’ve learned anything in 2020 it’s that nobody can really know what will happen.

                        But there’s something else we’ve learned. And that is, despite a reasonably murky time ahead, it always, always helps to be prepared…

                        Things are ch-ch-ch-changing

                        We’ve all had to do a lot of adjusting. From the days of not being able to buy toilet roll ANYWHERE to having to set a reminder on your phone to take your handy face mask with you every time you leave the house, it seems to be a continual rollercoaster.

                        And while the general public has had to cope with a great deal of change, businesses have had to try and do their best to keep up as well.

                        Source: Uber

                        From Uber thanking people for not using their service to gyms launching online workout platforms, it’s safe to say this year has tested brands to their limits. But the reality is, we’re very far from being out of the woods yet. Although life has adjusted and will continue to adjust, unfortunately brands will need to constantly play catch up for the foreseeable future. And even though people might be slightly more forgiving given the circumstances, the truth is consumers will still expect the same level of experience from the brands they use.

                        Even though the game has changed, the crowd still expect to be entertained.

                        How on earth do you keep up then?

                        Ok, we know technically we just said we don’t know what will happen, but we’d like to circle back to our favourite Scout motto – Always Be Prepared.

                        Even though there is very little we can control in terms of the ongoing situation, we still need to work out what we can influence. After all, the businesses that stand still will fall over eventually. In order to keep your brand front of mind for your consumers, companies need to keep moving and working out how to pivot their onward strategy to get ahead.

                        When we’re faced with uncertainty, the best idea is to look at what you can control. And when it comes to branding, that means this:

                        • Consumer research
                        • Competitor audits
                        • Brand purpose
                        • Brand architecture
                        • Tone of voice
                        • Brand messaging
                        • Content planning
                        • Scenario planning

                        Taking the time to invest in the above areas will only make your brand stronger. It will give you a solid platform from which you can build your next course of action. By focussing on these aspects of your brand, you’ll be able to start pinpointing what is right for your business – and also what your customers will be motivated and excited by.

                        You can then ask the questions that will naturally come to mind as you start to work out how to keep moving things forward:

                        • What was working before?
                        • How does this need to change now?
                        • What opportunities can we see emerging?
                        • How do we use this situation to our advantage?

                        Turning a negative into a positive is one of the most valuable skills a company can have. But you need to have a solid brand to achieve this. It requires a deep knowledge of not just your sector, but also your audience and what permissions your brand has to capitalise on whatever opportunity is out there.

                         

                        So, what next?

                        We’re so very glad you asked. We’ve been helping brands find their purpose and bring that to life for over 18 years, so you could say we know what we’re talking about. We’ve been thinking about how we could share our curiosity, and, after quite a few Zooms and the odd Hangout, we’re ready to launch something we’ve called The What’s Next Workshops.

                        Read more about the What’s Next Workshops here

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                          Navigating a rebrand? How to build something that will last

                          02.08.2020

                          • Brand Strategy
                          • Branding

                          “Change is inevitable, growth is optional”

                          Nobody likes change. It makes most of us feel uncomfortable. But it’s not the word itself that troubles us – it’s the idea of the unknown. We’re creatures of habit. It’s a universal trait that we all share. Imagine if, for example you suddenly switched to a new brand of toothpaste with no prior warning, or someone sat in your seat at the kitchen table? Or, even worse, you were asked to add the milk in before the hot water to your cup of tea (yikes). The world would simply end, wouldn’t it?

                          And yet, as the well-used saying goes, change is the only constant in life. It’s unescapable and it will always, always happen. There’s no doubt about it – like it or not, we all have to embrace change.

                          When we apply the subject of change to branding, it’s no surprise that at one point sooner or later, the question around whether or not your brand might need to change will come up… Is it still fit for purpose? Will this new offer change how we need to speak about ourselves? Or the one we all tend to dread…how do we compete with these new competitors that have suddenly appeared? The list goes on.

                          So, how on earth do you go about answering these questions?

                          Here at Curious we spend our days doing just that – answering the questions that surround the changing world of brands. And interestingly enough, there tends to be a pretty robust approach to dealing with these upfront questions.

                          Written below are the key questions and top tips we’ve gathered over the years to help ease you into the process…

                          It all starts with why

                          Do we really need to change?

                          Acceptance is the first step toward change. But it’s also often the hardest step to make. Unless there is a clear and urgent need, it’s far easier to sweep things under the carpet. We always know when something isn’t quite right, but if we can’t easily fix it, it’s forgivable to admit to crossing your fingers and hoping everything magically becomes ok.

                          Businesses experience the same issues with their brand. The first question people will ask is “why change?” if they are comfortable and things are going smoothy. So spending time understanding the reasons behind needing to rebrand is without a doubt the first hurdle to overcome in the process. But sometimes it can be hard to pin it down to one thing – often companies sense a change is needed, and sometimes that’s steered by a very obvious shift, but other times it can be a whole host of small updates that add up to something needing to happen.

                          Source: Bulletproof via Brand New – Under Consideration

                          The main reasons to rebrand:

                          • Your business has changed its offer
                          • Your existing identity is out of date
                          • An increase in competition
                          • A shift in audience behaviour
                          • You are entering a new stage of growth
                          • You need to better reflect the values within your business
                          • There is a market opportunity to take advantage of

                          Although the above list isn’t exhaustive, it certainly covers the majority of issues a brand needs to address. You can read more about these reasons here. From the above however, it’s possible to group the reasons to rebrand into two categories: proactive and reactive.  It doesn’t take a genius to work out what separates the two, but it’s worth clarifying in order to understand the initial motivations behind undertaking a rebranding project.

                          Proactive branding is driven by opportunity. It happens when a company realises a gap in the market that a new brand will help to fill.

                          Reactive branding occurs through necessity. Either because of a merger or acquisition, a shift in offer or a need to rebuild a reputation.

                          Both are valid initiations of change, but they take the form of different degrees of change.

                          Working out your appetite for change

                          How much do we want to change?

                          So, you’ve identified that your brand needs to change. That’s a big step in itself. If we’ve guessed right, chances are it’s likely because of one (or more) of the reasons listed above, and it’s either a proactive change or a reactive change. Either way, the next question to ask is “How much?”

                          Picture this. You’re in your local hairdresser. They’ve offered you a tea or coffee and you’ve even lucked out with a nice biscuit. Hooray. Next up is the classic question: “So, what are we doing today?” You take a sip and contemplate.

                          Will it be just a tidy up? Or are you feeling more adventurous?

                          Switch back to the world of branding and it’s a similar scenario. A full rebrand or just a refresh? Working this out might be very straightforward, depending on how you answered the previous question of why you need to rebrand. But getting an agreement on how far you want to change from all stakeholders of the brand is imperative. After all, nobody walks around with just half their head shaved off. Unless you rock a mullet. In which case, we salute you.

                          Always be prepared

                          Where do we begin?

                          When it comes to carrying out a rebrand, your level of success will be dictated by how robust your planning is. Diving straight in and cutting corners without taking stock of what it ultimately needs to achieve won’t do anyone any favours. Think about it in the same way as going on holiday. In order to enjoy that cocktail on the sun lounger, you’ll need to spend a bit of time sorting everything out before you take that first sip. Unless you like to plan your holidays similar to Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach that is.

                          Here are a few steps that cover the basics…

                          1. Brand audit – This is needed in order to understand everything you’ve currently got going for you and address any non-negotiables upfront.
                          2. Research – Understanding the landscape in which you operate is essential. This should cover both competitors and audiences.
                          3. Strategy – A fundamental step to working out how the brand should be positioned, this stage involves translating your business objectives and company culture into a creative brief for the brand.
                          4. Creative –Sometimes referred to as ‘the exciting part’, this can only happen after the previous steps have been carried out. It involves exploring a number of possibilities in order to answer the creative brief in just the right way.
                          5. Guidelines – We all need to abide by some form of ‘rules’ to make sure we don’t go crazy. The same applies to brands. The guidelines should be looked at as the most sacred handbook for your brand, mess with them and beware. (In fact, we think these are so important, we wrote a little more about them here)
                          6. Implementation – At the end of every branding project, the question ‘what’s next?’ often gets asked. This is where every element of the brand toolkit gets brought to life and applied across the brand in any number of assets including website, brand videos, literature and other communication materials.

                          Doing your homework

                          What do we need to know?

                          Turns out your teachers from school had a point. As with any investment, undertaking solid research before ploughing ahead is essential to know what lies in store…

                          What’s already out there? What’s performing well? Change to ‘Which of our competitors are we envious of and why? How are our customers behaving? Is this likely to change in the next few years? What is driving that change? How can we get ahead?

                          These are just a few questions we hear from clients on a regular basis. They naturally come up at the beginning of projects and if they aren’t fully investigated then, when it comes to further down the line, issues will likely arise. If you spend the time to carry out consumer research, you’ll ensure the new brand speaks directly to the intended audiences.

                          But above this, keeping an eye on the competition is just as important. Beyond the obvious need to avoid anything that could be considered ‘too close for comfort’ from a visual perspective, identifying what the opposition does well can be just as beneficial. Instead of letting this annoy you, why not work out what it is that they have going for them and find a way to use this to your own brand’s advantage?  After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, hey?

                          Getting to the heart of the matter

                          What’s the big idea, anyway?

                          We’ve touched on how important getting the right approach and doing the research is for a successful rebrand, but what needs to happen between that and doing excellent design work?

                          The answer to that is simple. We need to work out why you exist in the first place.

                          …ok, so perhaps it’s not so simple to answer immediately – it is a pretty big question. But while most companies wrestle with the latest way to describe ‘what’ they do, it’s the businesses that can articulate ‘why’ they do it that ultimately win.

                          The reality is, until you can answer this, you won’t have a meaningful brand. Because that is fundamentally what your clients will be asking of you. They need to know why they should buy into your offer, instead of the countless other companies they could choose from. And they need to get this message translated to them fast – unfortunately we as a collective aren’t naturally blessed with patience. So, the brand proposition needs to be sharp enough to get their attention.

                          The good news is, it can be relatively easy to reach the answer. By working through the overall goals of the business, assessing the research, understanding where you’ve come from and most importantly where you need to get to, it’s possible to define an incredibly strong brand positioning.

                          Reaching this does require a level of open mindedness and ensuring you involve the right people in the company, but with the correct approach it will become a very effective piece of work which can then be used to guide the creative process.

                          Bringing it all to life

                          How do we know what’s right?

                          The question on everyone’s lips. Knowing what the finished brand will look like is always the thing you will be most anxious to find out. But the truth is this won’t be revealed until the creative stages start to shape it. However, so long as the previous steps have been followed and we have a strong brand positioning, the creative will fall out of this. All of the work that will have been carried out leads to this point so that your business objectives, client messages, company culture and future ambitions are translated into a visually compelling and strategically sound brand.

                          Two Brand Guidelines

                          However, there’s never one approach for the visual identity. When you enter the creative stages of a rebrand, the aim should be that you’re spoilt for choice. Multiple ‘levers’ need to be pushed and pulled in order to test and examine the right tone and direction of the brand. As well as taking guidance from the previous strategic stages, the visual style will also have a lot to do with those closest to the brand – the internal audience. So, cultivating a close relationship between branding agency and client is crucial. After all, how can you expect to get a brand that taps directly into the heart of your company if you don’t believe the people attempting to do so ‘get you’? Like walking into a new home, it has to feel ‘just right’.

                          Rome wasn’t built in a day

                          As much as the creative output is the main deliverable of a rebrand, it’s merely the result of a long stream of steps leading up to launching it – get these wrong and risk having a brand that just doesn’t hit the mark. But, get it right and you should have a brand built to last.

                          If you’re thinking of taking another look at your brand, why not get in touch. We’d be curious to learn more.

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                            • Brand Strategy

                            What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: The benefits of a competitive audit

                            11.05.2020

                            • Brand Strategy

                            How do you learn from those around you?

                            We all love some retro Kelly Clarkson, but probe a bit deeper and there’s much more to learn from the pop ballad classic when it comes to your brand. Read on to find out more…

                            Like it or not, competition is all around us. Whether it’s landing that dream job or getting the last seat on the tube, we all have to deal with it at some point. And when it comes to businesses, with constant advancements in technology and changing buying behaviours, the reality is we’re going to have to live with the fact there will always be someone competing for a piece of the pie. So, besides ensuring you have the best product or service out there, how can your brand help you stay ahead of the game?

                            Channel your inner Nadal

                            Well for starters you’ll need to make sure it’s unique and own-able. Having a clear brand purpose is key to achieving this (don’t worry, we’ve written more about this here). But besides that, there’s actually a lot to learn from your competition. Think about it in the same way professional athletes study their opponents – they do this to understand their strengths and weaknesses in order to beat them. And while we aren’t suggesting you need to start training like a pro tennis player anytime soon, you still should be reading this and wondering what else is out there.

                            Source: Alberto Carrasco Casado via Wikimedia Commons

                            So, where else are your customers going?

                            This question should be asked not only at the start of your company’s journey, but on a continual basis. If you aren’t aware of the latest businesses operating in a similar space as you, this will need to change. To put it bluntly, inward looking companies will never move as far forwards as those who look beyond just themselves. And when it comes to branding, there is a lot we can learn from those who we tend to come up against the most…

                            What message are they communicating? Are they focusing on a particular audience? How does their brand translate onto their website? Are they consistent?

                            Any of these questions ring a bell? Congrats if they do. By asking any of the above, you’ll start to look at yourselves differently. But it doesn’t stop here, the real way to learn from the competition is to dive deeper, and get to the core of what they’re about. Remember what we said about Kelly Clarkson? Time to get a little more scientific about how you start assessing who you’re up against…

                            Do your homework

                            As much as you might’ve hated this at school, without putting in the time to plot out where your key competition operates, you simply won’t be able to position yourself. And the way to do this is by carrying out the proper research. Your brand strategy needs to be stress tested against what your competition is saying in order to confirm it is completely yours to own. Without doing this, you’ll be making decisions with no real way to judge whether it is unique or not. Launching a brand without checking what’s already out there is kind of like telling the same joke your friend said ten minutes earlier – and nobody wants to be caught doing that. You need to establish what’s in the market, what’s working and what isn’t and understand how your audience is responding in order to set yourself apart (and make sure to tell better jokes).

                            Sound simple enough? Let’s make it even simpler for you with a few areas to focus on…

                             

                            How to conduct a competitor brand audit

                             1. Clean out your closet
                            Every research project should start close to home. If you don’t carefully analyse what you store in your own brand you won’t have the full scope of what others are doing differently. Spending time unpicking the resources you have to hand will allow you to paint a good picture of where you’re starting from. So, now is the time to look at the core elements of your brand – your website, sales collateral, presentations – and work out what should stay and what can go. That way you’ll know what you’ve got to work with.

                             2. Create your ‘hitlist’
                            Everyone will know a handful of competitors who continue to crop up and generally get in the way of you ruling the world – if you don’t, well lucky you (we don’t believe you though). The world is getting smaller and smaller and with so many different companies out there ‘changing the game’ it would be fairly naive to think you were the only ones. (Sorry.) But creating a robust list of competitors often requires a bit more thinking. There will be the usual suspects of course, but in order to have a truly representative landscape, you’ll need to consider where your company is heading in the next few years.

                            Are you planning to launch new services? Developing any new products? How about opening an office abroad?  Has there been a big shift in the way you deal with customers? Have you upgraded the technology you use?

                            All of these questions should help you realise that the competitors you face today will most likely change tomorrow. Keeping these questions top of mind as you map everything out is important to ensure you capture everyone in your net. At the same time, you can’t possibly deal with everyone. So, once you’ve covered all the bases, you’ll need to do some prioritising. We’d recommend 5-10 key competitors as a good range to stick to with a mix of locations and sizes. That way you can get a broad understanding of who you’re really up against.

                            3. Break it all down
                            Once you’ve got your list of competitors, it’s then time to start analysing how their brands actually work. This isn’t as straightforward as saying you like the shade of purple they’ve used on their website – it needs to be a structured process. Think about approaching it in the same way you’d approach tackling a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Only a maniac would start trying to fit together the first pieces they pick up – you need to sort through the whole box, find those trusted corners, get all the blue pieces for the sky and only then do you tear your hair out trying to find the right piece to finish off that pesky tree. When it comes to breaking down a brand, it’s all about separating out all of the assets and putting them into buckets to analyse more closely.

                            A few questions to help you compartmentalise:

                            • Which touchpoint demonstrates their brand best? Is it their website? Or maybe they have an excellent customer service process?
                            • Which asset best illustrates their visual identity?
                            • Where do they best demonstrate their verbal language?

                            There are countless places a brand can show up. Here’s a list of some of the assets we’d recommend including in your list:

                            • Logos
                            • Products and services
                            • Taglines/slogans
                            • Brand guidelines
                            • Sales and product literature
                            • Brochures
                            • Advertising campaigns
                            • Websites
                            • Apps
                            • Blogs
                            • Videos
                            • Events and awards
                            • Packaging (if applicable)
                            • Retail store visits (if applicable)

                            4. Diving deep into enemy territory
                            Now is the time to pore over websites, scroll through social media pages, read the latest articles on Google – we don’t have to tell you that the more thorough you are, the better results you’ll get. This will all build towards getting an accurate picture of what the landscape looks like. It’s a good idea to consider the brand from both verbal and visual angles. This is because quite often a brand may appear on the surface to lack good visual design, but their tone of voice can be quite powerful and hit the mark with audiences.

                            Analysing verbal language

                            When you look at the verbal language a brand adopts, it’s all about tone. Not just what is said but how it comes across.

                            You’ll need to consider both the top line messaging across a brand including headline copy and taglines (if they have them), as well as the overall style – is it consistent? Is it relatable to audiences? Is it ownable?

                            When you analyse the materials you gathered in Step 3, you’re looking for how they convey their overarching strategy. And because we do like a good question, here’s some to start you off when you look at brand language:

                            • What position is it taking? Is it passive or proactive?
                            • Who is the primary audience they’re targeting?
                            • If their brand was a person, what sort of personality do they have?
                            • What words would you use to sum up their style and tone of voice?

                            Analysing visual identity

                            Ok so the title gives it away, but when it comes to the visual identity, we’re thinking about anything eh…visual. Logos, colours, typography, iconography, imagery…that sort of thing.

                            Again, it’s worth asking a few questions for each of your competitors…

                            • What grabs your attention?
                            • What feeling does it give off?
                            • Is it consistent?
                            • Does it embody an overarching idea?
                            • Is it unique?

                            5. ‘X’ marks the spot
                            Ah hoy there matey! Time to put everything you’ve learned down on paper and map everything out. Once you’ve collected all of the assets you possibly can and interrogated them to work out how their brands work, you’ll need to match them up against each other and add yourself into the mix. This process is technically called brand segmentation. But we prefer our pirate metaphor.

                            This step is about bringing everything together so you can see quite clearly where you sit and where the white space (opportunity) is. And while some competitors might be bolder and more confident, others might be slightly more reserved and cautious. Some might be positioned as high end; others may take a mass-appeal approach. Although these are general buckets, you can tailor them to your sector with different signals on the axis and see how things pan out.

                            A few things to think about as you do this final step…

                            • What area is each competitor trying to own? Price? Capabilities? Process?
                            • How much does their brand tie into this? Do they try to own multiple areas?
                            • Does their messaging convey their positioning consistently?
                            • How does the overall experience of their brand support this? 

                            Summary

                            Once you’ve got this down on paper, you’ll have a clear and objective understanding of not just the competition, but also your own strengths and weaknesses. You can then use this to create a unique brand positioning. Because the truth is, regardless of whether you work in retail or finance (or even hot yoga…we’ve dabbled in that sector before), if you don’t know what your competition is doing today, how are you supposed to know what to do tomorrow?

                            (Cue Kelly dropping the mic)

                             

                             

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                              • Brand Strategy

                              Creating a strong brand purpose: Don’t beat around the bush

                              02.05.2020

                              • Brand Strategy

                              Hey, you. Ever wondered where the phrase “beat around the bush” actually came from?

                              Ok, perhaps you haven’t, but we have. And it turns out there’s an entirely logical reason behind it. Originally a hunting term, it was used to describe the act of hitting the undergrowth to flush out birds. However, beating a bush directly could prove risky because of the unknown dangerous hidden within (a nasty bees nest for example), so people did their best to avoid it.

                              Source: Henry Thomas Alken / Public domain

                              So, a pretty straight forward, slightly interesting fact. But the reason it’s more interesting for us is how it has changed over time to mean something entirely different. Nowadays we use the phrase to describe avoiding a question, or stalling. Not getting to the point. And when we consider the application this phrase has in branding, things get more interesting.

                              The truth is, we only have a matter of seconds to get a message across. And it’s only when the message is articulated effectively that it inspires action – whether that’s buying a product or signing up to a service. Communicating complex information to potential customers is difficult enough, but try doing it when you only have a matter of seconds to grab their attention? Even harder. So, if you focus on messaging that doesn’t get to the heart of what you’re about, or you create a visual identity that is lacklustre in grabbing people’s attention, chances are you’ll be wasting precious time.

                              How do you avoid beating around the bush with your brand?

                              In the simplest terms, the way to focus on what will grab the attention of your audiences has to come from the brand itself – this is the mouthpiece of the business. What you’re selling, why you’re better, how you’re different, what makes you special… all need to be communicated within the brand framework. Not only does this dictate how you speak to your audiences, but it also clearly lays out who your audiences are in the first place.

                              Working out the core idea

                              When it comes to the work we do, half the battle is figuring out what the core idea of a brand could (or should) be. Once we have this, we then use our creativity to bring it to life. Sounds simple, right? But just as it was more appealing for the hunters to avoid hitting the bush directly, so too is it for businesses avoid tackling the big questions head on – what is it that needs to be the focus? What should stay? And the hardest…what needs to go?

                              All of these questions are important (and we do enjoy a few well-thought-out questions), but if you were to choose one question for your brand to answer, one that captures it all is summed up here: Why is it that you exist?

                              Simon says

                              Working this out isn’t as straight forward as you might immediately think. Sure, you can say what you do and how you do it, but explaining why you do it is fairly challenging – thank you Simon Sinek. This is where the hard work comes in. Looking deeply at the competition, brands you like, brands you hate, brands you don’t think much about, understanding your audience, understanding your people… It’s all about identifying the gaps and then creating space between you and them. Having a purpose that sets you apart from the rest is ultimately what a brand needs in order to be successful. After all, great design only gets you so far without a compelling reason to be.

                              Source: thedigestiblebrand.com

                              If you can get the answer to this question correct, you’ll very quickly unlock what the brand needs to become, because it forms your brand purpose. And remember, not everyone needs to buy into your purpose. It just needs to attract those who have a real connection with what your brand stands for. These are the people who will come back time and again to get the experience they’re looking for. And that’s called brand loyalty.

                              “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe”
                              – Simon Sinek

                              What happens next?

                               With your purpose as the starting point, defining how the brand needs to work becomes a lot easier (and enjoyable) to figure out. Things like brand values and tone of voice all stem from this central core idea, communicating everything that you need to say. The visual identity then brings everything to life.

                              So, when it comes to your brand, remember that beating around the bush is never a good idea. Get to the point, get to the heart of it all, and watch it grow.

                               

                               

                               

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                                • Brand Strategy
                                • Sustainability

                                From the Curious team: How to avoid ‘Greenwashing’ your brand

                                28.04.2020

                                • Brand Strategy
                                • Sustainability

                                Curious designer Emma Clarke takes a look at what being green really means when it comes to branding…

                                Creating a sustainable brand is no longer a niche topic.  No matter where you look there will be something that mentions either climate change or sustainability. Finally people are starting to realise that our impact is becoming a significant threat to the planet. But if we don’t start actually addressing these issues now, will our planet still be around in 50 years time?

                                The time to step up is here

                                Most consumers in the past few years have started to incorporate sustainable practices in their day to day lives. This includes providing things such as reusable coffee cups, reusable straws and avoiding single use plastics (take note McDonald’s). And this has opened up a whole new marketplace for brands to grow into and for new brands to fill a gap. Consumers are becoming more clued up on where their products are coming from and the process behind how their products are made. There’s a rise in consumers seeking out brands which are more environmentally friendly. Companies are being forced to step up, listen and be more transparent. Brands who are failing to address these issues are losing out on a whole group of consumers.

                                Over the past few years, more and more sustainable brands have been popping up and growing in popularity. And a lot of these brands have been joining the market in a very disruptive way.

                                Here are a few that have been leading the way and making a positive impact…

                                Oatly

                                oatly sustainability report
                                Source: Oatly

                                Although Oatly has been around for years they have really started to dominate the sustainability market. Take their disruptive and playful slogan ‘like milk, but for humans’ as an example. They get across their message of doing everything they can to produce a plant-based milk in a way that’s the least harmful to the environment as possible.

                                For years Oatly has been releasing an annual sustainability report. This sounds like it would be a very dull, filled with pages and pages of technical jargon but Oatly has put their unique spin on it. Although the report is very informative, the pages are filled with illustrations and key stats pulled out in Oatly’s quirky tone of voice. This has made a document which would probably just be skimmed past into something which is actually enjoyable to read. Not only are Oatly producing a product which aligns with many consumers’ beliefs, they are educating people on ways in which brands should be stepping up and listening to those consumers’ beliefs.

                                KeepCup

                                KeepCup, a certified b corporation
                                Source: KeepCup

                                Another brand which has been pioneering the sustainable marketplace is KeepCup. Nowadays when you walk into a coffee shop you’ll almost always see someone getting their coffee in a reusable cup. KeepCup has created a product which makes having a significant environmental impact a very simple task. But their goal isn’t just reducing their consumers’ environmental footprint. KeepCup has a very detailed responsibility section on their website outlining all the ways in which they are trying to be as environmentally conscious as possible. A large part of this is how they manufacture their products. They have made a real effort to try and manufacture close to where they are selling, thereby reducing their transit footprint – “The savings are not financial; they are environmental.”

                                Teapigs

                                teapigs packaging breakdown
                                Source: teapigs

                                Teapigs is another great example of a brand really doing their bit for the planet. Their whole brand was built off trying to make every product they create either recyclable, compostable or made from recycled materials. With tea bags being a generally non-recyclable product, Teapigs have taken it upon themselves to create tea bags which contain no plastic. Their tea bags even come in a bag which looks like plastic but is made from wood pulp, so is also compostable. They were the first tea company to be certified plastic free. Even though they are no longer the only certified plastic free tea company, they led the way. Other companies, take note.

                                The new environmental changes and breakthroughs shouldn’t just be down to challenger brands popping up, the large corporations have a role to play too. Consumers are becoming more interested in knowing what large brands are doing about their environmental responsibility.

                                Danone

                                danone sustainability model
                                Source: Danone

                                Danone is a large corporation making big changes to adapt to the new sustainability conscious world. They are learning and growing from how their production journey impacts the environment, and ways to improve this. Over the last few years they have made a real attempt on reducing their emissions, from the very beginning of their production line all the way through to delivering to consumers. They’re even telling everyone when they believe what they’re doing isn’t enough for goodness sake! But this shows consumers that the brand is honest. It’s also a great step forward to show other brands that it’s okay not to get it 100% right first time (after all, we can’t all be perfect).

                                Put your money where your mouth (brand) is

                                Consumers are paying more attention to which brands are addressing the sustainability issues and which brands aren’t. If brands want to survive in today’s world, they’re going to have to do more than just talk about environmental issues. They are going to have to really work on them. Consumers want to see dedication to the plan. All these new businesses popping up have really helped to educate people on what can be done. But is this causing other companies to see what people want and start to greenwash? Or will consumers become savvy to this giving smaller companies the chance to keep proving themselves?

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                                  • Brand Strategy
                                  • Tone of Voice

                                  Creatures of habit: How do you keep things consistent?

                                  12.04.2020

                                  • Brand Strategy
                                  • Tone of Voice

                                  Indulge us for a second. If we asked you to think about some popular brands, what comes to mind? A big tick? Some golden arches? Or maybe a Santa Claus driving a train? But what do they have in common? Simply put, they present a coherent message to their customers. This includes everything they do from design and words, through to product development.

                                  How do they do it? And what’s the secret to unlocking this potential?

                                  Source: Pxfuel

                                  Building brand consistency

                                  Nowadays it’s not just all about the price. Purchasing is often more of an emotional experience than a practical one. A Target audiences trust their favourite brands and return to them again and again. They know what to expect and they reward that with loyalty.

                                  Your most valuable business asset is your brand – but we’re guessing you already know that since you’ve landed here (and we’re happy you have!). The question is how do you capitalise on it? Developing an understanding of your organisation’s vision and values is the first step. You can then focus on building clear brand guidelines. In turn, this gives your team the tools they need to create a clear identity and deliver your core message. Again and again and again…

                                  But why is this so important? What’s the value to the business?

                                  It’s all about the familiarity

                                  By developing your brand presence and making sure people know what to expect from you, you’ll be able to turn random consumers into regular shoppers. And engage them. And retain them. You’ll be able to build relationships with both existing and potential customers. Then they’ll start to identify with your brand and enjoy the experience.

                                  The Swoosh

                                  Consider Nike. Their loyal customers know what to expect when they hear the name, see the advertising or just spot the Nike logo. Their brand is embedded in everything they do. So, Nike can retain their status as the leading – and most recognised – global sports brand. They just do it.

                                  Want to share some of the glory? Great. Time for the hard work.

                                  In order to create and present a cohesive brand to an audience, a certain amount of rigour has to be applied behind the scenes. Here’s the practical bit.

                                  Get some decent brand guidelines under your belt

                                  We’re not talking any old guidelines – they need to be pretty robust so that everyone who reads them can understand the brand. Why it’s this colour and not that, how to use the logo (and how not to) and even the different tones your brand should adopt. They’re basically the Holy Grail of your brand. Brand guidelines are the foundation of brand consistency standards. They ensure that all communications are on-point and consistent. They’re the rules. They guarantee that regardless of the format or touchpoint, anyone engaging with the brand will enjoy the same experience.

                                  Pure Brand Guidelines

                                  It’s all about the detail, baby

                                  The guidelines are core to the way the company presents itself – being flexible enough to allow for creativity but prescriptive enough to keep your brand recognisable. Here are five tools you can add to your armoury:

                                  • Look and feel including logos, design elements and a colour palette
                                  • Tone of voice and editorial guidelines
                                  • Image style and photo library
                                  • Templates
                                  • Social media guidelines

                                  What benefits will brand guidelines bring to the business?

                                  Consumers trust the brand they know. Creating a brand with personality goes a long way to developing and cementing that vital relationship between brands and their customers.

                                  The truth is, we’re all creatures of habit

                                  We’re reassured by consistency and knowing what to expect (however adventurous we like to think we are). McDonalds are a good example of a leading global brand which embraces the benefits that this behaviour can bring. Customers know what to expect from McDonald’s wherever they are in the world. Their branding and products are consistent across the globe.

                                  On the flip side, less successful brands can alienate their potential customers. They’re inconsistent. They’re unpredictable. They send out mixed signals. So, as consumers, we don’t remember them.

                                  Keen to distinguish yourself from the herd?

                                  It’s time to create a compelling and impactful brand to ensure that today’s customers know what to expect. Steal a march on your competitors. By creating consistency throughout your brand you’re giving your customers what they want and they’ll be back. It allows you to build a stronger identity. It ensures you deliver a more cohesive message. It builds on the trust of your target audience. Time to dig a little deeper. How you can help your customers build a relationship with your brand?

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                                    • Brand Strategy

                                    How do you inject humanness into robots?

                                    21.02.2019

                                    • Brand Strategy

                                    Brand is a hot topic for tech companies. It’s not all that surprising, given that tech companies have now taken over the top brand charts. Last year, six of the top ten global brands reported in Interbrand’s Top 100 Global Brands were technology-led businesses. So, what makes a successful tech company? And what role does branding play in all of it?

                                    It’s worth rewinding to five years ago when branding wasn’t the main priority. Getting the right product aimed at the right consumer was the thing that mattered. Technology companies were successful based on the answers to the below questions:

                                    • Is it different?
                                    • Is it better?
                                    • Is it changing something?

                                    If the answer was ‘yes’ to any of the above that would have been enough.

                                    But fast-forward to today and things have changed. It’s no longer business-as-usual in the tech sector. Suddenly there are seven other tech companies offering the same thing. How do you win the odds if there are others doing the same thing for a better price? What happens then?

                                    The tech world needs more meaning

                                    We’re finding ourselves in a situation where having a product or service alone isn’t enough. Just like traditional products had to have more than just a great taste or usage, tech companies need to add more value.

                                    Simple? Sort of.

                                    The issues flare up when we start thinking about how to give tech companies ‘meaning’. For consumer products it was a walk in the park. They had a physical connection to the people buying their product. It fed right into their lifestyle, it had human interaction. With tech however, there is none. In fact, the whole purpose of a tech company, you could argue, is to remove complications that arise from having something done by a human.

                                    Yikes.

                                    So, how do you inject humanness into something with no humans in it? Well, that’s where a well thought out brand strategy becomes very handy.

                                    Source: Slack via Brand New – Under Consideration

                                    Creating a purpose-driven strategy

                                    By truly understanding the needs and wants of people who will use your service or product, you are better able to see your business from their perspective and pinpoint the purpose your company serves.

                                    Six questions to help define a purpose-driven strategy:

                                    1. What exactly are you trying to achieve for your customers?
                                    2. Why should you be their first choice?
                                    3. What are you changing?
                                    4. What do you want people to think of you?
                                    5. What would the world miss if you went out of business?
                                    6. In the future, you’ll be known as the people who…

                                    The answer to these questions provides the platform upon which an effective purpose-driven brand strategy can be built. And this strategy informs not only why you exist, but from a creative perspective, it’s what guides your whole look and feel.

                                    It’s what makes your brand mean something.

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