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What does your logo stand for?

DesignJonathan AlderComment

Logos are more than just a badge. They’re a statement about the quality of your goods. What does your logo stand for?

Brand building: Where do you start?

StrategyJonathan Alder
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Your brand is a powerful tool. It will help you fulfil your dreams and aspirations. It will take your organisation from where you are now, to where you want to be – if you use it well. So, where do you start? The simple answer is, you start at the end: Where do you want to be? What’s your goal?

It doesn’t matter what your goal is, but it needs to be something you can measure, so you can gauge whether you’re making progress, or not. (If you’re not making progress something isn’t working, so you need to change it). Your goal might be a financial one – a certain level of income or a specific profit margin. Or it could be something like market share, or the number of customers you have each month, both tangible figures that are easy to measure, but not financial.

To do that you need to take a look at your organisation and consider two things: the internal perspective and the external perspective.

Once you know where you’re going, you can begin to plan your journey. To complete your journey in the most efficient way, and make the best use of your resources, be sure to build the right brand for your business. To do that you need to take a look at your organisation and consider two things: the internal perspective and the external perspective.

The internal perspective will help you to identify the purpose and values at the heart of your organisation; what it is that drives you. The external perspective will give you insight into your customers and your competitors; the people who will help you to achieve your goal (your customers) and those organisations that could slow your progress (your competitors).

When you have taken your organisation through this process you are in a position to start brand building – to build a brand that captures the personality of your organisation. The more clearly you are able to communicate this, the easier you will find it to appeal to your target audience and stand out from your competitors. It’s this clarity of communication that will help you to reach your goal and turn your passion into success.

So what do you need to do next?

Lego: How it became the world's most powerful brand

StrategyEleanor Yeo

At a recent McQueenie Mulholland away day, we were asked to think about one brand that we’d love to work with – a fantasy client. Answers from our team were really varied, from Ecover to Land Rover and a good mix in-between, but one answer that stood out was from Sue McQueenie who would love to work with…Lego.

Why would somebody want to work with a business that is so well known and established?

Well, as we’ve been finding out, this hasn’t always been the case.

We often work with companies who are going through, or are thinking about going through a re-brand, or are diversifying their product range in some way. We’d probably ask them a number of questions to ascertain how much they know about the market that they have, and the new market that they’re hoping to move in to.

And from now on, we’ll also be likely to refer them to The Guardian article, “How Lego clicked: the super brand that reinvented itself” as seen in the paper on 4 June.

The article discusses that as recently as 2003, Lego, the internationally renowned Danish toy manufacturer was reporting a 30% loss year on year and was £800m in debt. Fast forward to 2015, and the company overtook Ferrari to become the world’s most powerful brand. So what happened between those years to change the fortune of Lego?

Consultant Vig Knudstorp was bought in to turn things around. According to the Guardian article:

“He slashed the inventory, halving the number of individual pieces Lego produces from 13,000 to 6,500 … He also encouraged interaction with Lego’s fans, something previously considered verboten”

So, rather than adding to its product portfolio, Lego started by taking things away, by simplifying it. And they also talked to their customers. They used the time to find out what worked and what didn’t.

This resulted in a clearer focus – on making the things that they knew they were good at, and that set them apart from other toy manufacturers. But they expanded this existing product range, to include ranges for girls, and for adults, instead of just those primarily aimed at boys. Another key success was partnering up with those who are also very good at what they do – an example being the films and TV programmes that grace screens worldwide on a daily basis.

The result? Lego has just announced the highest revenues in its 85-year-history. We’ll certainly be using them as one of the best examples of a company turnaround that we’ve come across and we hope they continue to do well for many years to come.

8 tips to consider when carrying out a rebrand

StrategySue McQueenie

We’re currently working with one of our charity clients on a rebrand. In this blog we explore some of the challenges organisations can face when rebranding and have come up with eight top tips to help smooth this transition.

So to give one example from our work, a client we are working with has spent a lot of money on research and developed an exciting new brand which is ready to be introduced. The concept behind the new brand is that it will make the public understand them better and improve their profile in the community. The question is, how do we help them roll it out in a timely and effective way.

And it’s not just a matter of introducing a new look. How do you liaise with the media to tell them about your change? What does it mean to your clients or customers?

If re-branding is something you are considering for your organisation a strategy is essential - here are our eight top tips:

  1. Set up a steering group and identify a project manager to oversee the rebrand, as well as a couple of brand champions from different departments within your organisation.
  2. Involve an outside agency or expert to work alongside you through the process. Even branding experts bring in people from outside to advise them on a rebrand.
  3. You will need to carry out inventories of all the places your brand appears. These will be the ‘physical’ items like letterheads, leaflets and signage, and digital platforms like your website, social media and email signatures. Involve your steering group in working through these.
  4. Talk to your stakeholders, if you are a charity it will be your trustees, about why you are rebranding. Ensure that everyone who needs to be is ‘on message’ about the brand’s new values.
  5. Remember this process will not happen overnight. The bigger the organisation and the more established the brand, the longer it will take.
  6. Give yourself plenty of time to roll out the changes. Some organisations find a phased roll out with targets to be met by key dates is the most effective way to complete a rebrand.
  7. Plan a detailed media campaign to support you as you roll out your new brand. Use this rebrand as a chance to gain coverage in the media and raise the profile of your organisation.
  8. And, importantly, tell your staff. Tell them why it is happening and when it is happening. The re-brand of the client I mentioned above involves a name change, it can take a long time to break habits, so make sure people have plenty of warning.

It’s still all about the brand

Strategy, PREleanor Yeo

Whether it’s Marks and Spencer, Tesco or VW - we are surrounded by “brands”. They are an integral part of our daily life as customers, and crucial for helping businesses to grow, develop and maintain customer loyalty.

But a brand is not just a logo - far from it. A brand is the very heart of the company, the product, the reputation, the staff and the customers - a brand is a living thing, and its visual logo is only an element of that. Brands are the ‘X’ factor - they’re what makes your company stand out from the others.

My usual bleary eyed, early morning scan of the BBC news website, led me to two articles on well known British brands (RBS and Anne Summers), and how those brands have adapted to meet the needs of their customers. The RBS said:

"Our brands are our interface with our customers and through them we will be able to connect (with customers) and rebuild pride."

McQueenie Mulholland have recently been working on one of Devon's and Exeter's longest standing brands - the CVS (Council for Voluntary Service). Working to connect charities and businesses with the volunteers, staff or training that help them operate, the CVS has been in Exeter for about 70 years.

We’ve recently been tasked with starting this branch of the organisation off on the road to re-branding. We’re asking staff all about the organisation that they work for, how they describe it to others and what it really means to them and to the thousands of people that the organisation helps each year. After all, only by them all truly understanding what makes their organisation unique,  can they build a brand that can adapt to new challenges and responsibilities.

This change is not something that will happen overnight. But it will become something that takes this valuable organisation into 2016 with the confidence that their staff, stakeholders, volunteers, partner organisations, customers and the general public understand, and can use, with confidence.

And we can’t wait to get started!

The art of being nosey

Strategy, MarketingEleanor Yeo

I'm a pretty curious person (some might call it nosey!) and throughout my adult life I’ve often found that this has formed the basis for some great friendships. I enjoy asking questions and finding out about the ins and outs, and ups and downs of people’s lives.

Let’s face it, asking questions is human nature. The first thing we do when we see our husbands and wives of an evening is ask how their day was, or what they’ve been up to at work. We ask our friends how they’re doing? And when asking my five-year-old son what he had for lunch that day, or who he played with in the playground, I get told to “stop asking me so many questions – I CAN’T REMEMBER!!"

"He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever." - Chinese proverb.

At McQueenie Mulholland we ask lots of questions. We use questions to get to the heart of our clients’ needs and aims. After all, research and the art of being nosey and finding ‘stuff’ out is what the world’s most successful companies and brands are really good at. Tesco recently announced that it was changing the layout in 50 of its stores because customers wanted related meal items next to each other. It asked, customers answered. Facebook have just announced that they’re including a ‘dislike’ button. Why? Because, when asked, Facebook users told them this was what they wanted.

As a small business owner, how are you going to find new customers, if you don’t know what drives your existing customers to your business? And how are you planning to reach your new customers if you don’t know which media channels they use and respond to? And how can you develop new product ranges if you’re not entirely sure whether people actually want them.

It’s all about asking questions, and making sure that you listen and use the answers. Just like being nosey on a personal level, but making sure that the questions asked are relevant and pertinent. Or in the words of Albert Einstein: