Mike Heighway sent me this gif, at which I laughed louder and longer than I have at most things in a while.
After working on many brands, after birthing several real gems of brands, and working with clients and businesses to achieve this specific piece of identity with its values and its visual, textual and experiential translations (to say the least), i am still surprised when some businesses under estimate the value and time needed for that process.
You might not know it yet, but branding is not designing. Shocked? Good. Now stop asking for a Logo when you don’t even have a Brand.
To “make” a brand the first thing we do is not to start colouring or drawing, and especially not sketch a logo. We need to sit with you so that you tell us about no other but your business. Yes your business, with all the details of how you created your product or service and how,where and by whom is it delivered. We also want to hear about you mister owner/product developer/company founder/god who was behind the company/product/service. We want your business plans and your thoughts about the economy and just about anything you have an opinion on. Does it feel we’re like auditors or psychologists? Well we are. Both.
Why are we doing this? Asking all those pesky little questions and getting into some details that you thought only your lawyer or wife/husband would have to suffer through… well we need to know that as we are secretly and knowingly building up a profile in our minds of what it means/feels like to be your company.
It doesn’t stop there. This profile we just created is something that we develop using our marketing/creative/business/strategic powers so that it all makes sense. What it means is that our sole objective is to clearly write down what you stand for and how you express it and how people would/should perceive it and experience it.
What you have now is a document that explains the above. Yes just words. Nothing drawn or designed. Yet. Now comes the work of translation. Not into Mandarin or Cantonese (unless you need to be in the Chinese market) but a visual, tone and experiential translation of the above. So now we bring in the designers, the copywriters and just about any other specialist (musician, interior designer, architect, engineer, programer, carpenter…) that is needed to create a full and complete experience that exudes you.
Without that first part, no one would have a blueprint of what it means to be your company and all that. They’re just crazy people doing their thing. They’re worth nothing to you. That first blueprint document is the only thing that brought them together and allowed them to concretize the divine calling that is your brand.
And without us, the marketing communication specialists, there would be no maestro/psychologist/auditor to write the blueprint or to conduct the work according to the blueprint.
That blueprint is an integral part of your business plan (financial and other). It is not an option. It is not less important than the space you will be renting/building, or the staff you wil be hiring, or the secret recipe you will be feeding your customers. If anything it is the source and inspiration of all of these things to happen right.
That work on your brand, is the light house to guide every business decision you make, and ensure it works with you and your future customers.
As we say in Lebanon, “3ateh khobzak lal khebez law akal nosson”, which means “give your bread to the baker to bake , even if he eats half of them”. For brand creation it’s almost the same, we just don’t take half. We don’t even take a quarter. RoundTable consult for one has very competitive and efficient costing. Find out yourselves, call Omar and have a talk.
At Round Table Consult we don’t go without our comic reading. Laughter makes the world go around, or at least bearable at some times.
One of our favorite reads is the OATMEAL. Not just because it’s hilarious because the author has cunning advice that we all can head.
Here’s one of them. A very interesting insight from the OATMEAL on content creation and what it take to deal with the digital world and social media.
Read on and enjoy.
It’s been quite interesting to hear so many of my creative friends who are veteran freelancers complaining about their clients and how, more often than not, they would be faced with clearly disgusting situations where ethics have left the building.
Indeed it’s very interesting since my colleagues on the creative side of the industry have always derided the work of Client Servicing people, accusing them of being basic paper pushers and redundant. As some of them found out, it is not easy to deal with people. I am still not sure if a psychology minor shouldn’t be required for anyone going into that career, however it is of utmost seriousness when some advertise positions that require “people skills”, and put it right on top.
Clients are people like you and me. That means they can be just as tempered, impatient, and annoying as you and me. That says a lot already. Then you need to add to it financial burdens/objectives and also an ability to always make the story about them - yes them personally and not even about their brand (sometimes the two are the one and the same thing, which is great as long as it is clear). The mix is something coming from your worst nightmare, and is usually catering to your most despised characteristic and professional features.
Well it shouldn’t have to be like this. Here are a couple of points that just might help you out:
1- It is not all about you personally either.
Indeed you are working 24/7 slaving and dreaming about work, but you have to understand the difference between you the person, and you the consultant/designer/manager, even if they are very closely entwined. Sometimes you have to make your client understand the difference. This is where our second point comes in.
2- Professionalism. Timely, proper and efficient communication, manners and work ethics.
When you clearly disassociate yourself from this personally (up to a certain point) you are more able to put your professional self to the fore. Just like other human beings need clear directions and guidance, clients are more comfortable and will trust you more, if you set clearly the tone of the relationship from the start, and you are consistent at keeping them. Just don’t make delays another consistent aspect of your work, that will be detrimental to you.
3- Know how to say “no”. Just like when you are with your friends at a junky’s apartment with some clearly dodgy menacing people, you need to know how to say no to drugs. You wouldn’t go out insulting them because of what they are doing is disgusting and will take them to hell. That might lead you to your own personal living hell in no time, and the whole night is lost… for the next three months as you lay in your hospital bed. It doesn’t mean you have to say yes, and become the fool of the party either. With clients it’s the same thing. If you say yes to some things you will become the proverbial “slave” and more often than not the “fool”. Kiss your life and health goodbye. If you say no the wrong way, you will be lossing an opportunity with this client. Strike the balance. Look at the silver lining in everything.
There are other elements that involve a client relationship, and to all those that simply cannot deal with this, well you’re in luck. Round Table is happy to provide its services to all creative, strategic and business freelancers that simply cannot, or do not want to, or do not have the time to and do not know how to deal with their clients.
Are you one of these people? Contact Omar at email@example.com and he’ll be happy to set a meeting with you to make a personalized assessment.
The Digital World and the Marketing world have finally come to an entendre. And in true Marketing tradition, we find ourselves amidst a new “trend of the future”: Content Marketing.
Well then some might say that this is the newest thing ever. I beg to defer. Back in the radio age, brands didn’t just sponsor, they created shows. The same was true when TV came to be. The same was true when magazines became the rave. Isn’t that content? Sure thing, they stopped doing that, because it was too expensive, and demanded too much effort… but then somewhere along the years something changed.
Yes something did actually change. Students started learning what marketing was about and they started applying it in the big and small agencies. Back then it was the “it” thing: Customer Relationship Marketing.
It was all about starting, fostering, and keeping relationships between brands and their customers. And the objective was not sales, and sales was not the only benchmark. There were several benchmarks and telling the brands’ stories in the most relevant way to these consumers was one of them. That was more than 10 years ago.
Today, we are witnessing the democratization of such concepts again, thanks to the digital world that allowed any hack and geek and corporation to have their own exclusive channel with their audiences.
Here is a very interesting and useful article that gives the basic 7 for “content marketing”, which in a way says to the world: “No not anyone can pull a proper digital presence on their own - full teams are needed to do it properly, otherwise it just might bite you in the ass.” Have a read for yourself so that you don’t fall into any pitfalls http://mashable.com/2012/04/11/lessons-content-marketing-greatest-hits/
If you feel you are not ready, or that you’re ready, but you’re not sure, don’t hesitate to contact me at round table. I’d be happy to take a look at what you’re trying to do, and why you think you need content marketing, or digital marketing, or sCRM (yes, another acronym and discipline).