A Brand Workshop

Posted on March 22, 2012 by ThePMJournal

When defining the Brand philosophy, the Brand creators should be inspired by Martin Luther King’s motivational speech: “I have a dream“. The philosophy of a brand could sound like:  “I have a dream in colors, a dream about life and people. My dream is our vision, a vision about our future, about a better world”. Brand could be defined as an unique and uniform philosophy at organization level, that bonds peoples dreams with the reality, present with the future.

In order to create a brand identity, most of the companies are hiring branding companies. Anyone could “buy” a brand philosophy in exchange of money. How this things happens? Usually the branding seller organizes workshops with clients, where seller tries to understand the values of the companies, philosophy or their business model, then transpose those values into a unique and uniform image called brand identity.

For the clients without their own philosophy, without a set of organizational values, branding sellers are forced to come with a “customized” philosophy that fits the clients needs. In this way, new branded company could have the footprints of branding sellers and not of the company itself. That’s why, this approach of buying a Brand identity, before having your own philosophy and vision about the business behind the Brand, most of the time is wrong!

In our company the only philosophy “defined” was: “to make big money, in shortest time possible, no matter how“. Without having a solid business model, a vision or a philosophy, our branding sellers “invented” a brand philosophy for us. And that’s what we got: when entering in our company you have strong sensation you enter into a grave. You are welcome by a completely black wall with an yellow eye in the center and below the company name. That eye, resembling with the “Satan” eye, according to brand experts, is “the eye of the panther, watching from the dark to the light…always searching for opportunities…symbolize those agile and efficient people like us, like predators“.

So, we changed the walls, we changed our name, visit cards, logos, we received branded pencils, notebooks, shorts etc. but we didn’t change our mindset. Our image, did not reflect the true philosophy of the brand, but reflected the reality of the chaotic and inconsistent business model we were before.

When shareholders opened a new start-up (F-Startup), they decided to use the same brand creators made “the dark walls with the eye of the panther”… We followed again brainstorming sessions: many ideas, different philosophies and headache… We meet with branding experts and we explained our business model. After that, they created mock ups for brand logos and marketing materials.

The first workshop was a totally failure, because their proposal did not have nothing in common with our vision and business model. The artists were very offended because we told them: “the white flower does not suggest us idea of friendship, as we wanted” or “two hugged people doesn’t create the idea of group“. After few weeks, we meet again. This time the branding experts, more enthusiastic than ever, proposed us more ideas than before…

-What do you think? they asked.

-We don’t like it! we replied sincerely.

After three months we were in the same point… we didn’t know what to choose. The shareholders obviously were unhappy and they asked for my opinion:

-What would you choose if you were a shareholder?

-I am not shareholder, but if I were, I wouldn’t choose nothing. I wouldn’t make compromises about Brand. In my mind, there was also the following thought: “If I were you, I would fire the branding seller long time ago”.

-Then, I choose nothing! conclude the main shareholder.

The meeting was over. CEO would have kill me if he could, because I sabotaged his effort to finalize the contract and move on. Despite everyone being frustrated, the discussion has motivated all the branding experts to finally find a very interesting proposal.

From the Branding lesson, I personally learned the following:

  1.  Too many ideas bring even more confusion (in branding workshops we were presented 10-15 different ideas and discussions on them become endless; it was proven a maximum of 2-3 ideas are enough to create value – So, don’t give your people too many ideas, because they won’t know what to do with them!)
  2. Before you chose the Brand, make sure you already have a solid company philosophy and strategy.
  3. Your branding company needs to understand your target consumers (i.e. the company created F-Startup brand was specialized in corporate branding, but he didn’t have experience in creating branding dedicated to end user consumer, which impact negatively the design of the final products and entire PR campaign).

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