Professional Practise Workshops with K&Co.
‘Brand You’ + ‘Brand Positioning’
What is Brand?
Personally, I am a big fan of Marty Neumeiers (2015) definition, “A brand is not a logo. A brand is not an identity. A brand is not a product.” “…a brand is a person's gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.”
But of course, there are many more definitions – roughly just as many as the number of business gurus and mastermind classes. (You know, just to keep the universe in balance.)
I also like this version which we got introduced to during the workshop, “A consistently communicated promise of unique value.”
It is not that simple…
As much as we would like to think that we have full control over our brand it is not that simple. It is not about what we think it is – it is what they (customers and potential customers) think about it. That is why a well thought out brand strategy is key.
You have to know your audience (reality) – know what you want to represent (value proposition) + know how to get there (brand strategy) = desired outcome (a charismatic brand).
A successful brand is… Relevant, Different, Credible, Inspired, Authentic
How a customer perceives (consciously or unconsciously) the brand determines how he/she will engage with that brand. Thankfully, perceptions can be shaped – as long as they make sense (because we all want our reality to make sense, don’t we?). For example, Apple has not built such a following thanks to the I-phone (the product), Apple is so much more than the sum of its features or services. It would be hard to convince Apple customers to use other products – all thanks to the brand.
Elements of a Brand
Brand Compass (Purpose, Vision, Mission, Values, and Strategic Objectives)
It is the direction your brand is headed and why.
(Patagonia – makes products in a more environmentally responsible way. In addition, they actively help customers to repair clothing rather than simply discard or replace.)
Is the spirit of collective purpose and inspiration that drives your brand, a sense of internal alignment.
(All employees included – from the newly recruited Starbucks barista to the accomplished District Manager.)
These are thoughts, emotions, and behavioural patterns that are intrinsic to a brand. Essentially it is the personification of a brand.
(If the brand was a person what would they be like? Arguably, in this case being a Jerk is better than having no personality. Keep in mind that we tend to gravitate towards brands who have a similar character to us. Red Bull - exciting, courageous, outgoing, and hyper-energetic)
The coordinated system of names, colours, symbols, and visual language that defines a brand or brands within an organizational entity.
(Amazon does it well with AmazonPrime, AmazonEcho, AmazonKindle,...)
Name and Tagline
It is the most immediate face to the world. A strong name conveys a brand’s unique value propositions, differentiating it from the competition and leaving a strong impression on those who experience it.
(LG – Life is Good, McDonald’s – I am loving it)
It is more than just the logo. Identity is the visual encapsulation of the deep truths revealed about your brand in strategy and positioning, it embodies personality, promise, and purpose.
(Nike swoosh or the Animade rebrand from 2020 -> one of my favourites.)
Brand Voice and Messaging
The style of writing and speaking.
- “The way a brand looks is just as important as the way it sounds.”
(Coca Cola – friendly, positive, down to earth VS. Harley Davidson – strong, confident, aggressive))
Summary (Dummy version)
Branding is very similar to the process of developing a fictional character and their storyline. There might be a different terminology which you are not familiar with but in the end the main goal is to create and consistently communicate a story about a relatable character, but do not forget that you have to offer something of value as well – a product, a service, or any other form of content/benefit.
(This is just my attempt to make it more digestible for anyone who is in the creative industries but who is not ‘branding’ oriented.)
The Impact of Branding
Branding is integral to influencing customer behaviour.
It helps you attract the right customers.
Unique value propositions (which distinguish you from the rest) solidify your worth and allows you to command higher prices.
A simple (okay, maybe it is not that simple) rebrand can be the difference between charging £5 for a set of markers and charging £108 (take notes from Off-White).
*All these notes were taken from the Professional Practise workshops and this article on branding.
Brands that surround me (Exercise 1)
I don’t know how about you but as a University student (which is a condition that comes with certain side effects like always being conscious about how much I am spending) - I am not very brand loyal. When I am on my own, I do not buy premium brands when I know that the non-branded version will do. However, this changes when I am visiting my parents because their shopping cart is usually filled with a wide range of branded products that we all know and love. I on the other hand tend to ask myself, “Do you really need that?” before every purchase. But I am not going to act like I am a saint because no doubt we all have that one obsession where moral rules don’t apply.
For me it is anything design-related or art and stationary supplies. (Yup, I am a proud owner of a ridiculous marker collection and my already crowded bookshelf is just begging for more ‘design-y’ books. I am somewhat of a hypocrite you might say.)
Brand Analysis (Excecise 2)
Seeing as Me & Nat are the only #realbohemians in the group, we joined forces to investigate one of the most successful Czech brands, Koh-I-Noor. Our presentation did not live up to the standard of others because admittedly we did get a little bit distracted by the framework - also, we were not aware that we were allowed to criticize the brand either (and let's just say that there's a lot of room to improve for Koh-I-Noor).
I decided to redeem myself a little bit so I made a second presentation which includes more background information. (I felt like this has to be communicated to the audience in order to understand the position and strategy of the brand, since Koh-I-Noor relies very heavily on it's heritage.) I also added some of my own suggestions on where I'd like to see some changes so that Koh-I-Noor can secure it's rightful position as the market leader (at least in the Czech Republic).
My Feedback to Koh-I-Noor
The biggest problem I have with Koh-I-Noor is the inconsistency with their visuals (mainly their logo and packaging design). Just decide on one logo version (PS: I'd love to get rid of the current one.) and keep it that way on every single product. I understand that you have to do something to differentiate the 'artist collection' from the 'kids collection' but there are better ways to do that. (they don't have to look like two completely different brands have made them.)
Another one is the fact that I have no idea what the personality of the brand is. I don't recall seeing any ads or billboards - ever. Where is your voice? This odd silence makes Koh-I-Noor seem a bit dry to me. (Nope, I don't have a better way to explain this.)
Lastly, I'd love to see them get more proactive with the creative community (Isn't that your mission?) whether it is through social media, competitions or by providing creative workshops for school children or aspiring artists. (Take a look at what Drawetc is doing with their RAW illustration matches, mural paintings, public events and so on...)
Why don't you open up the factory doors to the public? Wouldn't it be amazing to offer something like the Willy Wonka experience within the headquarters of Koh-I-Noor? Kids and adults would love it! What if they could make their own personalized pens and pencils right in the factory? There is so much potential - currently wasted...
DRAWetc (s.d.) At: http://www.drawetc.com/2019/portfolio.php?lang=en (Accessed 03/02/2021).
Koh-I-Noor (s.d.) At: https://www.koh-i-noor.en/ (Accessed 03/02/2021).
Neumeier, M. (2015) The Brand Flip: Why customers now run companies and how to profit from it. New Riders. At: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=4MA9CgAAQBAJ