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Brand Strategy & Development

Branding and design mean different things to different people. At their most trivial we could talk about colours, typography and company logos. In such a case, a ‘brand refresh’ involves nothing more than a bit of tinkering - redecorating the living room and rearranging some of the furniture. That’s one approach, and you may see some benefit from this surface-level activity. But there's a lot more to brands than this.


Like an iceberg, the majority of what makes up a brand lies under the surface, but this doesn’t make this submerged mass of thoughts, feelings, ideas, attitudes and behaviours any less impactful. Just ask the passengers of the Titanic. You see, our poor post-chimpanzee brains consist of a small, conscious and logical mind sitting atop a much larger, entirely subconscious supercomputer capable of dazzling feats of data processing (of which we are mostly - blissfully - unaware). In psychiatric circles the metaphor is of a man riding an elephant - the man likes to think he is in control but, given the right circumstances, the headstrong elephant gets its head down, charges and takes over. And what are the elephant's triggers? Being angry, sure - randy, sure - upset, definitely. Oh, and great branding.


Whilst our rational brain likes to sift data and carefully weigh options, our emotional brain is busy running riot, stirred by an endless stream of conscious and subconscious influences. Punchy headlines, impactful imagery, stirring music, powerful ideas - all can unbalance our rational decision-making machinery, tilting us haphazardly this way or that. Our subconscious minds make emotional connections to things, people, sounds – and, yes, brands - in split seconds, often without the conscious mind even being aware. But by then it’s too late. You’re standing in the kitchen wondering why you just paid £3 for Brand A of toilet cleaner instead of just buying the own-label version for 65p. This is the true power of branding, backed by well-executed design. It forces us to defy logic and make decisions based on emotion - and then uses logic to retrospectively justify them. A brand that can create emotional connections with its target audience becomes almost unassailable. These rare businesses occupy an enviable place in the hearts and minds of their adoring customers. Unearthing these deep truths and insights about what really drives customer decision-making is no easy task. But that’s what’s required to develop brands powerful enough to sink an unsinkable ocean liner.


A powerful, well-thought-out concept of brand should drive every aspect of your business and marketing strategy. It’s the starting point for every business discussion and decision, from what new product developments it should focus on to what communications channels it should use. From this perspective, things like the company logo, its colour scheme and typography can be seen in their proper context – important-but-surface-level manifestations of something much more fundamental. In short, it’s all too possible to create dull, ineffective or just plain rubbish advertising and marketing, irrespective of the deployment channel. A business without a deep understanding of branding - one driven by rock-solid customer insights - is very much like a ship without a rudder: devoid of direction or purpose. And rudderless ships are almost certain to crash into something big and immovable sooner or later…

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