Tag Archives: brand message


Birth of your brand

We all know of the brain teaser, ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg’ .The subject came up during a recent Twuttle meeting of the local Twitterati and at the time there seemed to be no connection with this and how we do business. Not that we engage in idle banter during these gatherings of course! However, having been prompted to put some thought into the subject, certain aspects came to life!

The egg, the core idea or brand thought, is a single word which brings together all facets of your brand and a strong identity means that consumers will think of your company first when they think of your product category. Beans = Heinz, Vacuum Cleaner = Hoover, Biro = Bic. Everything is built around this, starting with the logo, running seamlessly throughout all the marketing material and the website. A few years ago, when the fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger prepared to launch their collection in the UK, billboards were simply covered with the brand name and supported with magazine adverts, saying nothing more than the news that Hilfiger was coming! Without any preview of the clothing range, potential stockists were pleading to be on the approved list of outlets and the success of the brand was established without a single piece of the collection being seen prior to the UK release.

We tend to view the brand as something which develops after the product innovation, but which really comes first? The Brand should represent the soul of the company and be there at the birth, followed by the marketing strategy, corporate objective and brand message. It’s the foundation on which every essential feature grows and should be in the forefront of your mind when you originate the idea for a product or service. Customers may come and go and products evolve and develop, but a strong brand message will survive change. It’s your value promise, both visible and audible, connecting the name, logo and strapline (slogan) to the product, building a relationship with the marketplace.

Should you decide to launch a new product under the established brand name in the future, the identity should be strong enough to support a credible brand extension. Bear in mind that this needs to be compatible with the brand’s foundation. You wouldn’t for example, expect McDonalds to open a chain of greengrocers. Whilst adding a new product can strengthen and benefit the parent brand if it’s relevant to the core brand message, deviating too far from the original product can damage perception, even more so if it proves to be a bad egg!

Bringing us back to the chicken and egg condundrum, the other question posed in the discussion was who first made the decision that a boiled egg and soldiers would be an improvement on the raw ingredient? One of our early entrepreneurs do you think?


Google reckons that the world now has around 4 billion websites. Fortunately the majority of these aren’t designed by the neighbour’s 12 year old nephew in his attic workshop, on the promise of doubling his week’s pocket money. The temptation for many is to have a website knocked up for a pittance, without considering the consequences. The average website visit is estimated to be only 68 seconds, so unless you can guarantee return viewings, it’s going to take you a very long time to make your internet millions, if ever.

Playing the knock-it-out cheap card isn’t likely to result in a website that will hold the visitor’s attention further than the Home Page and a dismal first impression is destined to stick. It may well take over a year to figure out that your website isn’t working and in that time alone, this can have a disastrous effect on lost revenue. Even though SEO assistance may improve the rankings, this isn’t going to increase the sales if the design and functionality are poor, whereas a well-designed website which forms a relationship and connects instantly with the client should pay for itself within 6 months.

A website should have immediate value but this doesn’t appear as if by magic. In general it’s the result of the trust built between client and designer after considerable research and ground work. A good designer will listen to your aspirations and know how best to stamp your brand personality and who specifically you’re trying to reach. Not only does your site need to be visually appealing with memorable images, the copywriting of the text content should also be a form of online art delivering a clear brand message. Whether this is primarily a brochure site, a lead generator or an online shop, it must be quick to load and easy to navigate. You’ve heard of Mouse Rage Syndrome? This isn’t the pesky little rodent you set the cheese-in-a-trap for. Mouse Rage is the result of user impatience on the internet caused by slow loading or confusing web pages, or pop-up ads that you can’t get rid of which manifests in bashing and wiping the computer ‘rodent’ on the mouse mat and clicking furiously. You may find you shout at the screen and clench your teeth resembling Gnasher from the Beano.  According to the 3 Click Rule, if visitors to the website can’t find what they want within 3 clicks of landing, they’ll give up and look elsewhere.

As your shop window, does your website reflect your business in a positive light and entice your visitors to browse at leisure, or will they be gone in a flash, a grinding of teeth and a mouse damaged beyond repair?



With the growing popularity and success of business networking, many of us now find ourselves making contact face-to-face over breakfast, lunch and at after work events. We meet in hotels and bars, cafes and conference rooms and after a while they may all start to merge into a blur, who did we meet and where? Some venues are so dimly lit we squint myopically (well I do) at name badges, or even worse, the room may be illuminated, but no one is wearing a badge!

It becomes all important to be memorable and to stand out in the crowd, which may be more of a challenge for the men in grey suits. I’m referring here to the male members in the group not to shadowy political figures by the way. Women have a greater tendency to dress to impress, which may of course be something programmed into the female brain, rather than an intentional marketing tactic! A cartoon character tie might not appeal to everyone, but a company logo’d shirt or a flower in a jacket button hole could well become your visual ‘signature’, leaving others with a micro impression that stays with them. Painting the company logo onto a bald head would be effective, but apart from being slightly extreme, it may give an unfair advantage over the female members in the group!

One of the basics of a networking event is the exchange of business cards. As one of your most important marketing tools, your business card should be your trump card! An appealing and memorable design will ensure that it won’t be lost amongst a pile of other indistinctive cards on a desk, or even worse, in the bin. Make sure it has the ‘wow factor’ and that the recipient can tell easily what your business does. Without overload, a splash of colour works wonders. How often do you turn a card over to see what’s on the back and are disappointed to find it blank? If so, the opportunity to maximise the brand message and reflect company values has been missed, together with the potential of making the company unforgettable.

It doesn’t end there of course. Networking is about reciprocal relationships, interwoven with joint support and mentoring, helping each other to reach business goals. You not only need to be noticed and remembered, you need to earn respect from fellow members of the group and for this to happen you must be a good listener. You are your business and the first impression you make reflects on how others view the quality and service your company has to offer. Show an interest in someone and they will be more likely to show an interest in you and if you promise something, build trust by following it through. Don’t dismiss a group after one visit, it takes time to build a network of connections. To quote Woody Allen ‘Eighty percent of success is showing up’.