“I don’t take the technology for granted. It has always been important for me to understand the technological underpinnings of the products that I’m working with.”
What influenced his interest in Branding and Marketing:
- I learned a lot from my father who was in publishing and an early pioneer in the dial up bulletin board systems. As a teenager, the process of marketing, branding and advertising was a lot of interest to me. It was very primitive but also wildly exciting time to be involved in technology and marketing because there were literally these entirely new pathways of reaching an audience that people have never considered before.
Approach on Brand Strategy:
- I look at brand comprehensively and in a very holistic way. It is a broad ecosystem of moving parts and sometimes, it can be a challenge for an organization.
- There is an educational process that needs to take place where the clients need to become aware that the brand is more than just the visual representation of their logo mark, the marketing collateral, their website and so forth.
- How you express yourself as a company verbally and how you behave as a company using your unique mark, your name, your logo hopefully distinguishes you and whatever your business property is from competing companies.
Comprehensive view on Brand:
- It is more of a sum of the company’s positioning, its messaging, its visual identity, and in a more abstract sense that emotional and intellectual relationship that you have with your customers.
- Perception is the better product reality. No matter what qualities you want your brand to portray, it can never be greater than how it’s viewed and experienced by the audience.
How can this become a challenge for an organization?
- When they start to internalize what a brand is, it becomes apparent that it’s not just going to be the sort of marketing visual face lift for the organization that true brand transformation actually impacts how people behave inside the organization. And also to some extent how products are made, how they are presented, and how they are designed.
How to become a better Brander:
- Marketing and Branding is really about the customer.
- You would want the customer to show you the path or the potential customer.
- You’re not just basing it on your own ego of the creative process and your ability to create that sort of mysticism for your client that you’re doing the brand work for and impressing them with that sort of mystical creative process.
- Marketing and Branding should be, to a certain extent, more technical. There is a lot of room for creativity but there is also this very technical very logic driven aspect to it.
It’s your knowledge of the market that really is going to make the opportunity for you.
Definable value for the disbelievers:
- That (disbelief) comes from clients that have experienced marketers and branders talking about the brand in some sort of this mystical creative sense.
- It’s something that isn’t as grounded and connected in their work experience to be relatable and therefore it doesn’t seem as tangible to them.
- I’ve encountered in the marketing space as well, typically from more creative shops that are focused on the visual representation of the brand and usually that is the aspect of creative people wanting to be creative and not taking the time to really have quantitative or qualitative evidence that suggests how the brand should be portrayed.
- This give and take in the industry between that creative force that’s definitely necessary in the intellectual technical approach to building a brand.
For clients specifically, what I emphasize is that everything that we do is going be grounded in research. It can show us a clear direction or some sort of indication of the direction in which we want to go.
Significance of Brand Strategy Process:
- There’s a big value just to go through a brand strategy process as an executive team as it’s a formational experience. Going through that sometimes helps clients to realize that they don’t know as much as they thought they knew about the customers. Just going through the process is valuable in itself. It can transform how you think about brand as an organization.
Applications of Brand Strategy:
- The identification of the key audiences and then research on those audiences.
- The definition of differentiators or as I like to call them brand attributes.
- Positioning statement – verbal and visual positioning. Visual expression of the brand is a part of the brand strategy. A major component how the positions that you have might be represented using design. Verbal expression of the brand which is the written form of the positioning and the brand attributes but also a messaging architecture.
Primary Message on Brand Strategy:
- This brand strategy stuff is practical. It’s not abstract. It’s not surrendering to an arbitrary creative process. It is sort of touchy feely in an aspect that you want to be in touch with the emotional and intellectual need of the audience but it is not just an exercise of an arbitrary creativity.
How do you know when business owners really have a problem?
- There are so many different indicators of that. One of the things that I would raise as a potential problem is when you don’t know what the reputation and visibility of your brand is. The brand strategy is designed to answer those questions.
- I think one of the most difficult decision for a company comes when they realize that they have a branding problem that stems from having a diverse group of services or products that don’t have any apparent relationship to each other. The brand message and the brand visuals are getting muddied.
- One of the signals would be that one of your customers doesn’t understand what your brand conveys. This brand is not communicating in any resonate way with the audience.
How to prepare the client’s mindset?
- Step back and take an objective viewpoint and be in a listening mode again.
- Letting go of your ego and taking this more open approach and develop a corporate humility.
- Research. The value of investing in the research partly as a means of getting everybody on the same page.
- As a brand advisor you have to prove to the client why they should be doing this. A part of it is to help overcome that natural reluctance to be told by somebody else what you should do.
What brought you from brand strategy to information strategy in the nonprofit?
- Years ago, I decided to do branding for technology companies as a next thing that I was gonna do in my career and entrepreneurial endeavors because I thought there was a big opportunity there.
- Then I met a guy who was involved in technology for nonprofits. Being aware of my background I helped out with the project that he had going on for benefiting this non-profit. After that I was hooked.
- I discovered that was where my passion really was.
Pieces of Advice to an Executive who is considering a Brand Strategy Project:
- Make sure that you do your research especially when it comes to brand design.
- Get outside of your daily work environment. Make the time to think about the brand in an environment that’s not your office work. It is introspective. It is something that requires you to put yourself in the mindset of different internal and external audiences and that requires space.
- Get exercise. Exercise is great for both calming down the brain and for releasing different kind of chemicals inside of the brain.
- Don’t put pressure on your logo to convey too much. What you put behind of your brand ultimately is what the logo will end up meaning.