Effective brands are built on insight

Behind any great brand is a wealth of research, strategic insight and strong conceptual foundations.

21st September 2020

21st September 2020

Categories

Estimated Reading Time 7 Minutes

James Bolton

James Bolton

James Bolton

Written by James Bolton

When we think about brands, thoughts inevitably turn to highly crafted logos, well executed marketing materials and evocative imagery. But beneath the surface, there needs to be research and insight to ensure creative work is relevant and remarkable.

Laying the foundations

Any visually remarkable brand should be built on strong conceptual foundations. That may seem obvious, but in amongst a technicolour world of logos, iconography, imagery and other key deliverables, it can be easy to lose track of why a brand refresh is happening and who it’s targeted at.

For us, immersing ourselves in your world starts right at the beginning. From the first stages of Discover, we lift the lid on your business to uncover themes, soundbites and a deep understanding of your organisation through the eyes of internal and external stakeholders.

It’s at this point that we start to get a clearer picture of perceptions and points of view. We begin to unearth some of the things that make you special, as well as gain an understanding of your competition and the wider industry landscape. Depending on time scales, budgets and feasibility, this is usually a combined programme of research, interviews and questionnaires. We also include a leadership workshop which helps to identify and challenge assumptions.

The outcome of all of this is a strategically valuable Discover Report which translates business, service and market insight into opportunities and recommendations for your new brand.

Site visits

A critical part of any brand process is meeting the brand where it lives and, more often than not, where it was born. Traditionally called the factory tour, this means experiencing the brand in the real world. Not all brands are made in factories, of course, some brands may have less tangible products; for others, the physical buildings are the brand. Whatever the case, we always try to visit the brand on its home turf.

For property developments, we might see the building work and visit the surrounding area to soak up the atmosphere. For major developments we’ve been known to stay near them for a week, getting an authentic feel for what life will be like living there. In other cases we’ve visited lighthouses, workshops, bottling plants, docks, offices, supermarkets, warehouses and glass working museums.

Getting hands-on and genuinely immersed in a brand means meeting it where it lives. The conversations we have and the references we build up can offer invaluable insights that could not be achieved from our desk.

Know your audience

While you think you may already know your audience, it can sometimes take an independent party or a neutral voice to get to the heart of what your customers love or loathe about your organisation. Audience and competitor analysis will help consider views from outside your bubble; including key strengths, unique points of difference, and even issues which might run deeper than brand.

Sometimes talking to customers and clients can even lay the groundwork for future brand positions. So much so, that an off the cuff comment can often sum up a service or feel of an organisation better than hours of roundtable discussions and internal brainstorms.

Leadership workshop

An engaging leadership workshop links the final stages of Discover with Create. Here, we bring together key internal figures to explore and expand on some of the key topics from the initial Discover phase.

A series of exercises help flesh out your strengths and position, with key stakeholders discussing ideas and angles in an informal, positive and productive environment. As well as key takeaways covering your Why and your sector landscape, we also touch on visual territory which helps guide early ideas around your identity and look.

From here we can start defining a strategic Brand Story as well as a Creative Brief which informs the visual brand prototypes we call Brandscapes.

A series of exercises help flesh out your strengths and position, with key stakeholders discussing ideas and angles in an informal, positive and productive environment. As well as key takeaways covering your Why and your sector landscape, we also touch on visual territory which helps guide early ideas around your identity and look.

From here we can start defining a strategic Brand Story as well as a Creative Brief which informs the visual brand prototypes we call Brandscapes.

Buy-in and bringing people together

Building your brand should be an inclusive and engaging process, so involving major stakeholders from the outset is key to collective buy-in. Aligning positioning, tonality along with visual expression is the only way to truly connect business and brand.

The stronger the insight, the healthier the brand

There’s a whole wealth of research, analysis and insight before our designers move a mouse. It’s a simple message, but the more insight and research we gather, the stronger your brand will be.

With the information and insights we capture, we can paint a hyper-accurate 360 degree picture of your business, your competitors and marketplace; all of which can go on to inform recommendations and opportunities for the evolution of your brand.

Of course, a full scale Discover might not be for everyone — both time scales and budgets will affect that — but a bespoke and flexible Discover process can be delivered based on your brief and requirements.

One of the best aspects of understanding and agreeing on a brands requirements before we start designing is that it makes the design process not only more effective, but more objective. When you know exactly what we need to convey and why, it makes assessing the creative work far more focused and less prone to subjective opinions.


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