Summer 2018 Catalyst
Raise your hand if you know what a “brand” is. If you are thinking of a logo, or a website, or a business card or an advertising campaign, put your hand down. Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos defines brand as “what other people say about you when you’re not in the room”. Bezos is right. Your customers, employees and other stakeholders will tell you what your brand is. If you are doing things well, they’ll be saying what you hoped they would.
But good branding doesn’t happen by accident. It begins with having clarity about a promise — a commitment made to your audiences. That clarity in turn provides organizations permission to develop compelling marketing and communications that support the promise.
At Wall-to-Wall Studios (W|W) we define “brand” as that core promise, that unassailable vision, of an organization that helps establish a reputation formed by those who interact with it. This is at the heart of every great brand and it should inspire the organization and its stakeholders. The brand promise should drive everything a business does, from operations to hiring decisions to marketing.
W|W believes that brand-driven organizations deliver a distinct experience; owning that experience and making it unique, is key. Success relies upon understanding and knowing that core, unique brand promise... and aligning all of the brand signals behind it. This is called building brand currency.
By making emotional connections with your core audiences, you are developing a loyal tribe composed of raving fans. Those powerful connections will influence their decision-making much more than a large advertising campaign.
The formative work begins by developing the brand strategy — the framework for the intentional, strategic communication of all messages and signals that deliver on the promise. The strategy captures and articulates core insights about the brand’s DNA and aspirations, and clearly positions the brand to ensure that the promise is consistently expressed by the staff and consistently experienced by all audiences. The brand strategy articulates the messaging and communication architecture to ensure that whether in direct engagement with a customer or prospect, or online/print, each touch-point sets an expectation and perception of value, both internally with employees at every level, and externally with all audiences. Each touch-point is an opportunity to deliver a positive brand experience — one that is unique and relevant, and forms an emotional connection. Over time, these experiences build trust, brand loyalty and intrinsic value.
The W|W process starts by investing in a capacity building, brand-driven workshop that helps get the client team properly oriented around the notion of brand. More often than not, W|W finds the client stakeholder group managing a branding initiative to have limited experience on such an endeavor. While they certainly bring deep domain expertise to the conversation, some upfront capacity building around brand is essential.
Next, W|W facilitates a series of interactive exercises engineered to encourage candid sharing from the client team that will help W|W understand and rank topics as: personality, audience, tone, design, measuring success, economic drivers and more. The immersion phase continues as W|W conducts an audit of the existing brand/marketing elements, communications and organizational environment. This, and other discussions with key personnel will help W|W develop a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) that will be used to gain first hand knowledge of the business. These methods, along with any subsequent materials provided by the Client (research, strategic plans, etc.) will form the basis of understanding and foundation for designing the brand strategy.
Great brands deliver on three fronts: by being different, relevant and simple. In this case, simple means accessible to audiences and stakeholders. It is important to avoid over-engineering your brand story into a complicated narrative that no one can understand. Don’t make it hard for someone to become a vocal brand ambassador that is proud member of your tribe.
W|W’s headquarters is located in Pittsburgh's historic North Side, with its second office in Honolulu, Hawaii. Noteworthy Pennsylvania collaborations include:
Founded in 1992, W|W is a brand design agency that creates compelling integrated experiences for smart challenger brands. Through our client work, W|W has demonstrated that good branding is good for business and good for the Commonwealth. For more info about these client projects, please visit www.walltowall.com.
Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.