We have been helping brands tell their story, create engagement, and feel more relevant for literally decades. We pride ourselves in helping to make a new brand articulation stick. Along the way we have seen the same common pitfall trip companies up, but if they are overlooked, they can make the difference between success and failure.
You can follow all the tried-and-true approaches to making a brand articulation complement the company mission, you can follow an inclusive process to uncover the nuggets that lay at the heart of the problem, and you can develop a robust method to articulating how the brand should think, feel, and act in the world. And trust me, we love and do all of this, but every time we accept a brief to help define a brand, we find that if we don’t pay equal and focused attention to the following 5 areas, we know all the effort, passion and good faith will be for nothing.
I first saw the marked difference and positive outcome that comes from paying close attention to these key factors very early on in my career, while working back-to-back on 2 rebrands for 2 major financial institutions I was struck by the very different outcome from 2 equally impressive, reimagined brand thoughts.When I looked back at the differences between the 2 scenarios and the differences between how the brands were received, I noticed 1 or 2 very simple differences which I have seen happen time and time again, differences not in the work or the process or the diligence and care that was put into the work, but differences in how the immediate team and the wider company were engaged and brought into the process.
I was fascinated to see the same outcomes happen when attention was paid to the way the team was engaged and involved. Simple moments of collaboration, an invitation to input and celebration of group pride worked wonders, helping the work find a home and be accepted by the outside world.
So, in our work we try to make sure these 5 key actions are always in consideration and always factored into our ideas of success. These might seem obvious but ignore them at your peril:
Get everyone on the same page.
You’ll be surprised at how differently people see a problem and what is needed. Once we take the brief, we make a point of talking to everyone with a stake in the outcome, this usually takes the form of a structured 30-minute interview/conversation where we try to understand perspectives and context for the work. Seeing the similarities and differences to perspective early on helps set expectations not just with the work at hand but with each other.
Once we have conducted the conversations and assessed the output, we always like to get into a round table conversation to share findings and raise the questions of clarifying certain points, it’s really great when you see people realize they are thinking differently and how they become mindful of the real and tangible common goals.
This then really becomes the brief, the real starting point for the work.
Invite all key stakeholders.
All too often because a brand request is made by the marketing department that is where the answer stays too. In our experience the greatest success comes from having representation from all areas of the business, creating something in isolation will only lead to work that isn’t embraced and doesn’t have ownership from the whole business. Having a working team that understands and articulates how this brand work will have a positive impact on their jobs is invaluable, all the research in the world can’t replace first person real time experience.
We make sure the workshop environments we create are not intimidating, helping people freely share their thoughts. Having an environment where ideas and real-world scenarios are discussed helps quickly focus the things to help it be authentic, tangible and still inspirational.
Share with the company early.
While the thinking, energy and process is still fresh it’s a good practice to get a read on what you have created, this is a good time to take advantage of any preexisting company meeting to bring everyone up to speed on what you are doing. A simple show and tell with a Q and A can help seed the thinking and create a positive sense on anticipation of what is to come. It’s also great to hear any concerns early on. If there are concerns make sure you address them, making a point to prove you have listened and adapted to accommodate the wider teams concerns. Having everyone rooting for the outcome supplies the key momentum needed to push through to a successful outcome.
Be proud of the story you have created.
Of course, you are proud of what you are doing, but it pays dividends to show everyone you whole heartedly believe in what you are working on. Demonstrating your buy in leaves people in no uncertain terms about where you stand, it signals a clear direction and gives permission for others to share their passion or appreciation for the direction of the company. I’m not suggesting you have to bang a huge gong or create a company chant (thought that could be cool) or even act like Jared Leto in We Crashed, but an authentic signaling of your buy in works wonders.
Champion your champions.
This is the point where you start to see the green shoots of adoption and behavior change, this is probably the most crucial moment, the moment when you start to see others behaving in the way you want them to. This is the moment to bring attention to these observed behaviors and praise people for what they have done. Anything new can be scary for people, the fear of embarrassment and not quite fitting in are powerful dissuaders, helping people overcome their inhabitations and show how the new message has a positive impact on them is the key to unlocking the power of your new brand story. As people start to see real-time and personalized examples of behavior change, they feel more comfortable in expressing their own behavior change. Having a forum or place where you can share these stories and reward these stories is a great way to speed up engagement and make adoption an enjoyable thing.
At the end of the day a new direction for the brand or a new way of expressing the company message is a tool for everyone and it just makes sense that everyone should receive help using it. Being able to deliver a more purposeful articulation comes down to getting the whole team on board and engaged. Long before the outside world sees what you intend, your team must be won over and happy.
For more insights on how LO:LA can help your brand firstname.lastname@example.org