Agency and marketing terminology (or how to get 20 points in bulls**t bingo)

We marketers love inventing new marketing terminology, sometimes using the same term for a multitude of meanings. Our handy guide helps you know what’s what.

There’s a lot of interchangeable marketing terminology so this week I’ve collated some of the most popular into a handy little explainer. These are some of the most popular you’ll hear at work, in the pub, at networking events or when playing b*llshit bingo so that next time you can avoid omni when you should be multi.

Content Marketing

The production and distribution of digital content to engage with an audience that doesn’t directly promote a single product or service but provokes interest and elicits a desirable response from the reader.

Some argue that Content Marketing isn’t a standalone discipline and that marketers have been producing and distributing content for customer engagement since year dot. I’ll not fan the flames of that argument here, but just say that Content Marketing has become such a big topic in the marketing horizon, it’s a good idea to understand what it is.

Integrated Marketing

Integrated marketing is a discipline that works towards bringing together different strains of marketing around a coherent, consistent voice to enhance and amplify each to create wider engagement. So an example might be a brand ensuring the messaging and visual it uses in its TV advertising is reciprocated in in-store promotional material and on social media.

Multi-channel

Creating either tactical campaign-based or always-on marketing activity that is simultaneously distributed across a number of different marketing channels appropriate to the offer and the audience. As more and more channels get added, this becomes more complicated, particularly in organisations with very siloed departments.

Warning! This is one of the marketing terminology red herrings. Multi-channel is confused with omni-channel on a regular basis. You’re probably working in a multi-channel organisation. A good way to know for sure is if you work in digital how many people do you know in the brand team, if the answer is none then you’re definitely a multi-channel organisation.

Omni-channel

Similar to multi-channel marketing, but rather than all the channels operating independently, omni-channel marketing brings them all together to work holistically to produce a properly integrated marketing campaign. Omni-channel is much more customer-focused and ultimately more effective, we’re big omni fans. Read more about multi- vs. omni- channel marketing here http://www.dvoagency.co.uk/multi-channel-marketing-problems-and-opportunities/.

SEO

Simply put, Search Engine Optimisation. So any activity you do on your website with the aim of improving your site’s visibility and organic ranking with search engines (primarily Google). Many people mistakenly believe this is a one-time exercise to be done when a site is built or a product launched, but SEO should be an ongoing part of your mix, supporting all activity, both on and offline.

Customer Experience

A bit of an easy one this. Literally, your customer’s experience. What they experience when interacting with your business, at any and all touch points. This is ideally always positive, but invariably hits the odd bump in the road, and elements can often be out of your control. Not to be confused with User Experience (or UX).

User Experience (UX)

Hot topic/buzz word right now, and as usual, so-called ‘specialists’ have suddenly popped into existence to meet demand (or exploit invented opportunities?).

User Experience refers to the overall experience a visitor has when visiting your website or using a web-based application. So, how easy it is to find what they need, to move through the space, identify the required route and achieve the desired result. Not to be confused with Customer Journey.

Customer Journey

How a customer moves into, around and through any and all touchpoints with your brand or business. Online, offline, below the line, through the line, too far over the line, all of them! Often something that a business thinks is simple and straight forward but when they actually sit down and map it all out (we favour a massive white board and lots of different coloured pens. But we’re old school like that) it’s a lot bigger and far more complex than they ever imagined. Spend time early on understanding the customer journey and you’ll save yourself a massive headache down the line. Some people (ahem, DVO) are staunch advocates of the customer journey and can get quite emotional when people disrespect it.

Brand Experience

A bit more touchy-feely this one. Brand experience is the emotional, behavioural and sensory responses a customer experiences when exposed to your brand. Hard to control obviously, but with good planning, thorough research and good customer understanding, you can build a brand that meets your customers’ needs to put yourself in the best positon to evoke wholly positive responses.

Jimi Hendrix Experience

One of the most popular rock bands of the mid Sixties, led by the legendary Jimi Hendrix. Arguably the most successful trans-Atlantic act of the time, they produced three studio albums and anyone that can hear “Foxy Lady” and resist doing the ‘Wayne’s World dance” has no soul.

Strategy

A defined plan of action designed to achieve a predetermined goal or set of objectives. Often different departments will have their own specific strategies, which should all work towards supporting the overall business strategy. In marketing, there are often then discipline, sub-department and sometimes even tactical or campaign specific strategies in place. But again, these should all be based on how they can assist in meeting the business objectives. Often though, they aren’t and are entirely random.

KPIs

Key Performance Indicators. These are measurable outcomes to activity that can be collated and reported against to demonstrate whether that activity is meeting the business objectives. These can be quantitative, qualitative or anecdotal. But they must be agreed and in place from the outset. Too often we see companies struggling to assign KPIs halfway through a campaign or trying to change the KPI as it wasn’t fit for purpose, usually through lack of planning. Don’t be these people.

Goals

The terms Goals and Objectives are often used interchangeably, but are actually slightly different. The easiest way I can explain it is a goal is something you want to get, an objective is somewhere you want to be. Goals bring glory, objectives bring results. Both good, both needed, but inherently different.

If you’d like to wax lyrical about some of the terms mentioned, or more importantly you’d like some no-nonsense advice on your next strategic step, give us a call.

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What is lean full service?

This week we’re talking about lean full service and why it’s the perfect agency set-up for our modern connected world.

I’ve blogged a lot recently about integrated, multi-channel and content marketing. All integral parts of DVO but it struck me that we should be talking more about lean full service. As a full service digital agency it’s central to our approach to our work, it’s why we created the agency in the first place and it’s the antidote to the traditional agency model.

Where have we come from.

It’s worth us talking about the agencies of the past. It’ll put everything in context later on in this post.

Back in the day when one way advertising ruled the roost the ad agency was primarily made up of creatives and client service folk. Going about their lives doing advertising. Women were in the minority, suits were sharp and martinis were sharper.

This period in the history of agency development is truly fascinating, for some further reading check out:
https://medium.com/comms-planning/a-brief-history-of-comms-planning-df94a56958fe#.glwlzw2dw

Image curtesy of accountplanning.blogspot.co.uk

Then a bright spark (the chap above, Stephen King, was a pioneer) thought that introducing social sciences into the mix could help make the advertising more effective. Planning was born and little has changed since then. Sure, we’ve added lots of new channels, technology has come along, but the core principles of starting with planning and strategic thinking to positively influence the creative process and the outcome of the campaign remain pretty much the same.

Some more further reading, http://accountplanning.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/founding-fathers-stephen-king.html

Stanley Pollitt advocated the use of data and removed discretionary control from account management with planning working alongside client services through the all important briefing process. Or paper shuffling as we like to call it.

So has this rigorous approach changed?

Well as we increasingly added more and more channels into the mix, there began a rush to specialise. First media buying was hived off, then direct and latterly digital. Digital got broken up into various channels; media, SEO, social. Some agencies started doing creative, some more marketing focused work.

Then technology got stuck in, automation became the key, every software solution promised optimisation of a specific channel or strategy (don’t get me started on the “s” word).

In a word it seems that the overarching rigour that once existed has become increasingly less important.

What got lost in all of this?

Strategic direction. Strategy has become an overused word to the point of ridiculousness. It seems in our immediacy culture that the intellectual rigour that formed the hallmark of some outstanding work has been sacrificed for a ‘suck it and see’ approach. Taking the time to look at the big picture seems less and less important. This increasingly illogical solution to a problem or challenge that is becoming more complex is counter intuitive at best.

Making sense of a more complex customer journey and making the right decisions creatively, with technology and importantly strategically seem more chance-based than they ever were before. Sure, tactically we have more data at our disposal and it’s easier than ever to figure out when, where and how to interact with a consumer but this so often manifests in a silo mentaility, without connecting the dots. It makes delivering the uniformly excellent customer experience harder and harder.

Which seems odd when you take into account the prevailing research:

“Customer experience is the last source of sustainable differentiation and the new competitive battleground.” Tiffani Bova, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst

67% of consumers site bad experiences as a reason for churn.

Research shows that 55% of consumers are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good experience.

So how does lean full service solve this problem.

To us it seems obvious that the challenge brands really need help with is a strategic one. It emphasises the “long idea”, use of technology that improves the customer experience and strategy more attuned to consumer behaviour.

Lean full service was the philosophy we created as the basis of DVO. It’s the culmination of our experience as a founding team that spans 50+ years agency and 30+ years client side. It’s what we’ve built our entire agency model around and we’ve done it because it answers all the questions we’ve been asked by our clients, brands we’ve met and collaborators we’ve worked with. Lean full service allows for an agile, project based approach to activation but makes room for rigorous planning, strategy and ideas.

Lean full service is about control, control to shape strategy, control over the long ideas that work cross-channel and control of the big technology choices that shape customer experience.

We believe that in the connected world, with so many channels at a brands disposal, that the only way to cope and thrive is to step above channels and work agnostically to avoid getting bogged down. Strategic thinking should be about the whole, focusing holistically on the overall customer experience. Brands must avoid the urge to jump on the next fad and prioritise making smart decisions that are based on data, insights and importantly how they will impact this overall experience.

This holds equally true for the idea and the technology. Divorcing this from specific channels makes it much easier to create a holistic ecosystem of digital experiences and communications. The long idea and overarching strategy are designed to work across a range of channels, nuanced to the needs of the consumer at each touch point with technology working in the same way. Only with this truly consistent voice will brands be able to tap into the competitive advantage that a differentiated experience can afford them.

But we’ve not mentioned production and activation. Well, in a lean full service agency you still get an end to end solution through to activation, but we’re only hands on with certain media (predominantly owned) and integral production elements such as integrated design and development. The rest is done through collaborators and technology. Why? Because the depth and breadth of talent and the capabilities of software are now so immense it’s impossible for it all to be optimised in-house. Agencies talk about talent problems all the time, so why fight it? We work with the best video producers, design specialists and channel and sector specialist creatives who help to bring our ideas to life. We work with programmatic ad buying platforms that cover display, social and native and and we’re proud of it. Our technology stack covers user generated content, analysis and publishing. We do all of this because it’s what we believe a modern agency should look like, clients are buying into our expertise not our ability to charge large management fees for software to do most of the work.

We started DVO with a tick box of things we knew people hated about agencies, because we’d hated them when we were client side:

  • Bloated retainers
  • Jack of all trades mentality
  • Poor collaborations
  • Lack of insight just relying on data
  • Lack of data just relying on insight
  • Lack of access to senior people
  • Seniors being around at the pitch stage and the intern doing the work
  • Channels fighting against each other
  • Little to no process to help manage change
  • The client is often seen as part of the problem, not the solution

It was a big list of challenges but our solution was lean full service to get back on the right path and bring clients back to a place where they valued the agency once again.

A lean full service agency looks like this:

Senior team members lead client projects from the front, very often starting projects in a consulting capacity to intimately understand the entire organisation, culture and challenges. That’s important because in todays world truly putting the customer at the heart of the brand isn’t just about marketing.

  • Leadership is key, whether it’s strategic leadership, creative or technology. In lean full service the emphasis is on experts working hand in hand with the clients on a daily basis
  • In lean full service we don’t try to be all things to all people, we’ve got a roster of carefully selected collaborators who we can bring in at the precise point their expertise is needed. This ensures you get the best possible team, at the right time, for the right task
  • To build the best strategy requires a blend of data and trends, the big and small picture. Ultimately the best insights are the result of asking the right questions to make a fundamental difference
  • Content and digital experiences unite channels. Lean full service slots in nicely above channels with agnostic ideas that actively work to integrate and unite campaigns, content and conversations around a singular voice
  • Project based no bloated retainers
  • The ability to bring a rigorous approach to agile activations
  • Sourcing and evaluating expertise and technology is a core discipline within the agency
  • The client is a part of the solution

We created lean full service because we recognised that marketers were falling out of love with agencies and it’s easy to understand why. So rather than jumping on the band wagon bound for a slow death, we thought we’d do something about it.

Lean full service is equally at home with legacy brands looking to become more digitally integrated and evolve closer to the reality of todays consumer as it is with challengers and disruptors seeking the kind of agile approach that is the hall mark of their marketing.

If you’d like to talk to us about how lean full service can help you through this time of constant change, building the kind of customer experiences that will foster loyal customers, then do something old school. Pick up the phone, give us a call, we’ve got nice biscuits and we can help.

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Multi-channel marketing problems and opportunities

By popular demand from our recent Twitter poll, this week we dive into multi-channel marketing problems and opportunities.

Multi-channel marketing problems and opportunities seemingly exist in equal measure. We seem to be living through the conclusion of multi-channel with brands bursting at the seams under the weight of all the new channels that technology has created.

So, to help clarify things, in this post we’ll cover:

  • What multi-channel actually means and how it is different to omni-channel?
  • The downside of multi-channel
  • The solution
  • Conclusion

What is multi-channel and how is it different to omni-channel?

First off, let’s clear something up because these terms seem to be very similar but, as you’ll see, the strategies are very different and the terms seem to cause endless confusion. So, what is the difference between multi-channel and omni-channel?

Multi-channel marketing

The multi-channel approach aims to get the word out using as many channels as possible, usually more than 2. Rarely are the channels connected and working together in an integrated way. Organisations invariably find themselves operating a multi-channel model, having added new channels as and when they become available. Lots of work for lower quality output and poorer results.

Omni-channel marketing

The Omni-channel approach integrates every channel to engage with customers as a holistic whole, rather than treating the channels as discreet siloes. An omni-channel approach taps directly into the cornerstones of integrated marketing; coherence, consistency, continuity and complimentary. Omni-channel prioritises the overall experience as the sum of interactions with the brand through each and every channel aiming to ensure these are overwhelmingly positive. Omni-channel is a truly customer-first approach, building stronger relationships between consumers and brands by better meeting needs at every stage.

Check out our recent blog on integrated marketing here, discussing the fundamentals of an integrated campaign which would be delivered within an omni-channel strategy.

Brands with a defined omni-channel marketing strategy achieve on average a 91% higher year-on-year increase in acquisition and importantly, customer retention.

So, what’s wrong with multi-channel?

It’s not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with multi-channel it’s just not an approach that optimises either the activity or the individual channels themselves. As marketers, we should always be collectively striving to improve what we do and how we are doing it. As the consumer has matured with technology, we now understand more than ever the connected nature of marketing channels. The immediacy culture that technology has created and the huge change in customer behaviour resulted in many brands struggling to keep up. Multi-channel seems like a place we have arrived at at the end of a race to add as many channels as possible, testing, learning as we go (sometimes!). Smart brands in this place are now looking to see how they can connect the channels and offer a better, more connected, experience for the customer. Why? Because it results in improvements from awareness to acquisition through to retention.

I promised myself I wouldn’t bang on about siloes again so all I will say is that the pinacle of multi-channel is usually a whole host of siloes in marketing, at worst working against each other with arbitrarily assigned KPIs that bear little relation to the whole. Which is not a place anyone wants to be in. We see our role as a full service digital agency to integrate these around a holistic view of the customer, to get a better return on investment for our clients and a better experience for their customers.

The real danger of multi-channel is an unwillingness to connect the channels, that comes down to organisation and culture. But to be honest without the appetite to change innovation is unlikely.

barrier to innovation & change

Image Gartner financial services innovation survey.

So, what’s the solution?

Shift from multi-channel to omni-channel, simple eh?

Ok so perhaps not that simple. We’ve found the best way to connect all the dots requires some sort of catalyst, a simple way to shift tac from one strategy to another. It starts with the brand. Very often traditional brand strategies haven’t been updated to incorporate digital and very often don’t consider 2-way, always-on channels. This means starting from a bad place that will never get your where you need to be.

From a communications perspective, we’ve found that developing a content platform or digital experience, driven by an updated brand strategy, is a great place to start. It connects the traditional above-the-line channels with digital and it’s then reasonably straightforward to re-align the channels around this. Importantly, it gives the disparate teams something to rally around.

The components:

Research and data

We look at trends, qualitative research and data covering four areas; brand, customers, competitors and landscape. This gives a complete overview enabling us to understand what the challenge is, where the opportunities lie and a deeper understanding of the customer.

Segment to build personas

However you slice up your customer research and data, your aim is to segment, creating smaller affinity groups. Once you have these you can develop personas, defining a picture of the person beyond the data. Adding substance like media choices, needs, passions and goals helps build up a fuller picture.

Customer journeys

Mapping these is vital. Data is an essential component, aim to understand which channels are relevant to each given persona. Importantly, the goal is to understand where the barriers exist, blocking the customer’s movement towards purchase and removing these. You can’t do this unless you know firstly what they are and secondly at what stage of the customers journey they come into play.

If you do this, you can confidently market holistically to the customer with tailored activity at each channel to move the customer towards purchase.

Again, an integrated content marketing approach is the perfect solution as it prioritises putting the right content in the right place to make this happen.

Creativity and technology

It’s hard to separate these now so maybe let’s talk about the idea. In an omni-channel world the idea that drives what you produce and what the consumer sees is channel agnostic. In an omni-channel world the digital experience is at the heart, with consistent messaging adapted for the nuances of each channel and relevant to the journey stage. Consistency is key. Think of a story, a big one, where you tell only the most relevant bits at a given time and place to satisfy the audience, motivating them to move onto the next chunk.

For DVO, this kind of conceptual creative is found at the intersection of traditional communications, editorial and technology-led thinking.

Activation

Activation in an omni-channel world requires meticulous planning and organisation. We’ve experimented with various formats, arriving at a universal content plan as the most simple and effective, layering this above the channels to manage implementation. In practice, we’ve ended up doing some of the channel work where the brand in question doesn’t have resource, but we’ve always found a big picture view keeps everyone involved engaged.

Improvement

Assigning the right objectives and channel KPIs is vital when moving away from multi-channel to omni. Channel KPIs move from being arbitrary to laddering up directly to marketing and business objectives within the omni-channel strategy. It’s vital you do this so you can measure the effectiveness of the whole. This represents another great opportunity to align teams, it gives them purpose outside of their daily activity, demonstrating how their input impacts on the wider objectives. It’s important they know this of course.

Conclusion

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So 2017 has been tagged as the year that brands start to optimise multi-channel, better integrating individual experiences around the whole. So, omni-channel then? In our opinion this change needs a catalyst, something real, that demands an omni-channel approach and integrated content marketing fits the bill.

We’ve thought long and hard to create simple road maps for our clients to get them on a path to realigning their marketing around the customer expereince. If you’re looking to transition from multi- to omni-channel and want the gap between your brand and customer to stop widening then contact us here, or give us a call, 020 3771 2641. You can also sign-up for our newsletter at the top of this post on the right hand side.

Wrapping a brand round your start-up.

This week we’re discussing start-up branding. It’s essential but, in so many cases, it gets overlooked, certainly beyond the logo and colour scheme. But a brand is so much more. It’s the beating heart of the business and the basis of any marketing and communications. A good brand can make the difference between success and failure.

We started by talking to two different start-ups about the challenges they faced and we finish with what we believe is important when taking your business to market and truly selling it. Why? Well nowadays there are so many new businesses launching, thanks to technology, that unfortunately it’s becoming more and more obvious which ones have put time and thought into their brand. After all, all businesses need customers, period.

Vanessa Butz and Giovanni Roberto, were our two victims. We wanted to understand how they dealt with brand and why they felt it important.

Vanessa moved to London in 2015 to set-up Interchange, one of London’s coolest co-working environments, which was taken from conception to launch in a little over 3 months. Although Interchange sits under the umbrella of a larger public company, Vanessa experienced all the challenges you would expect from a start-up.

Giovanni is the founder of Yndica, an innovative, multi-channel retail solution with a hand picked selection of products, displayed in pods, which can be placed almost anywhere. The proposition seamlessly integrates a mobile ecommerce solution, allowing purchase and delivery at the swipe of a phone.

The consensus is refreshing and something the start-ups of this world should take on-board, as a strongly differentiated brand is what will give them an edge as markets start to get more competitive. Both felt strongly that culture is what drives start-up branding. It all starts with the founders establishing a strong sense of culture in the business (we’d probably call this values and personality) and this should be reflected in the experience a customer has regardless of where they are in their journey. The deeper understanding of how a consumer forms relationships with a brand was something they both inherently understood and both felt that brand needed to be policed, especially as the businesses evolved. What we often see missing, that both really understood, was that brands evolve. Many start-ups forget this bit, still forging ahead with the first iteration, conceived over the kitchen table, at a point in their lifespan where it’s no longer fit for purpose.

 

So we’d thought we’d hand out some start-up branding advice. Free. Because we’re nice like that.

 

You’ve come up with a great idea, you’ve asked a lot of questions, you’ve put in the time and effort to formalise your idea into a business. Now what?

Never before has there been so much support, funding and information available for start-ups. But, from our experience (and this goes back to year dot!) most people don’t put enough time or budget into planning their start-up branding and marketing strategy. And your start-up will need both if you want to start making money in the not too distant future. Which we’re assuming you do.

Start by thinking about what the actual purpose of your business is and where do you want it to be in the future. What are your ambitions for your business? These can be distilled down into short, snappy phrases, called ‘Vision’ and ‘Mission’ (often the Mission Statement).
Your vision is exactly that, what your ultimate vision is for the future of your company? This is often something kept within the company to inspire your employees, and it should always be written in the future tense. A great and very often quoted vision statement is “A just world without poverty” – Oxfam. Simple, clear and truly visionary.
A mission statement is often shareable and is more about a statement of intent for your business. What is its day to day purpose? These tend to be a little longer than your vision, with a slightly more practical edge. Google’s is pretty good we think, “Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. As you can see, it’s not about giving your ideas or secrets away, just simply telling people what you’re about. A good exercise to do alongside this one is listing out all your brand values and core principles. Having these agreed early on will prove very helpful all along your branding journey.

At DVO we offer a full service digital agency model which places a huge amount of importance on research, and with good reason. We never understand why so many companies, including some long standing, experienced ones, place little or no value on research, some even totally forgoing it! Yes, it is a potential cost, or can be quite labour intensive, especially if you don’t have a big budget. But really, it is essential. Both quantitative (large amounts of data, easily measured and reported) and qualitative (smaller amounts of data, less easily measured, sometimes anecdotal) provide valuable insights into all areas of your business and the landscape within which it sits. Use your research to establish whether your business idea has potential. Look at other players in your sector, what is your potential audience size, what can your target customer afford? Even down to the basics; has your chosen brand name been taken already, are the digital naming rights available? All these things will help you formulate your business model, price your products or service accordingly and realise their full potential going forward.

 

Very few new businesses are truly unique nowadays. If you’ve come up with an idea that really does not have any competitors, then well done you. But most business ideas will already be out there in one form or another, and you will hopefully have identified these during your research. So what you need to do is establish what about your business is different to them. Once you’ve identified these points of difference, you need to ratify these into your ‘unique proposition’.

 

Once you have your unique proposition, you need to do some analysis of your audience. Lots of times in the past, when we’ve asked someone who their potential customer is, the reply is often “everybody”. Everybody? Really? So every single man, woman and child in the entire world is going to want and be in a position to buy your product? No, didn’t think so.
Take the time to really understand your target audience. So, for example, if you’re selling feminine hygiene products, then pretty much 50% of the world’s population sits outside of your target audience. If the lowest possible entry price for your product is, say, £500,000, then you’ve narrowed do to a small sector of very wealthy individuals. Selling pens? Yes, you may think that your product IS for everyone, but if you actually think about it, if it’s cheap, high volume units, then maybe your core audience is large offices, and you need to sell via large scale office suppliers. So you’re then looking at a B2B strategy, rather than direct to consumer.

 

Once you’ve established your audience, you can then look within it to identify any differing segments. Different segments might require different messaging or may favour different channels. Understanding these early on will help you create a brand profile that works will all your audience segments and resonates fully with your potential customers.

 

A handy exercise we favour is the creation of an ‘Elevator Pitch’. This is really useful for all employees, not just those responsible for sales. It’s your door opener, essentially, if you had those few seconds in an elevator with a stranger and had to explain the ‘who, what and how’ about your brand, what would you say. It is the spirit and function of you brand, articulated in a clear, concise and memorable way. Once you have this defined, put it on stuff. On your website, on business cards, on headed paper, on email signatures. And try and make it as engaging as possible.
Next, you need some reasoning to back up your pitch. A good test of any statement you make in business is to say it, and then add the words “yeah, so what?”. Make sure you’ve got a list of arguments that can support any claims you make. And make them customer-relevant. If you can offer something, prove its integrity and shows how it can only benefit your target customer, the sale is as good as yours.

Tone of voice and content go hand in hand. You’ve already got your brand values from earlier, haven’t you? So your tone of voice is how you ensure that brand profile is expressed throughout all your communications. Doing this ensures consistency, helps alleviate mismatched messaging and ratifies your brand throughout the customer experience.

We have lost count of the amount of times we’ve encountered the old ‘logo as brand’ mentality, even from so-called branding specialist. Visual identity; your logo, chosen colours, fonts, layouts, templates etc. are the visual representation of your brand. Your visual identity needs to aligned itself with your brand values, your messaging and identify with your customers. It needs to be memorable and it needs to work hard for you. All the elements of it need to support the rest of your business.

Understanding your customer journey is key, and often, what at first seemed simple can actually end up much more complicated. So take the time to work through it in great detail. Understanding what you expect your customers to do to buy from you can be a bit of a humbling experience. Once you have got it nailed, ensure that all the above elements are expressed throughout the journey. With so many potential channels, points of contact, entry points, purchase methods and digital assets to manage, a consistent, clear user experience is what will get you loyal, repeat customers. Which would be nice eh?

Right, that’s a lot to take in, we know, so here’s a handy little start-up branding checklist:

1. What’s the Vision? – aspirations, always in future tense
2. What’s the Mission? – shareable, what’s the company’s purpose?
3. What are your brand values and core principles?
4. Do your research – quantitative, qualitative, competitors, business name and digital assets availability.
5. What’s your Unique Selling Proposition?
6. Who is your customer? How is your audience segmented? How does your messaging needs to flex to resonate with your segments?
7. What’s your Elevator Pitch?
8. Pillars of reason – create your arguments to back up your claims.
9. Tone of voice and content – how are you going to express your brand?
10. Visual identity – logo, fonts, colours, layouts, templates etc. Do these represent your brand values? Will your audience identify with them?
11. Customer journey – understand it in GREAT detail. Does it work for your audience? Is the user experience consistent with your brand profile?
12. Test your messaging and everything else
13. Give us a call if you get stuck, 020 3771 2461

We hope you’ve found this start-up branding guide useful. If you’d like more information or help then please get in touch, we don’t bite!

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