Can you tell us a little about your background and career journey so far?
I grew up in Lincolnshire, England, and being surrounded by Roman, Viking and medieval artefacts shaped my future. Mum was an archaeologist and I was fascinated by the designs and the stories around these wondrous objects, so it was probably pre-ordained that I studied design and communications. Then it was onto a 30-year career (still going) in brand and advertising, which has taken me around the world working for organisations like Coca Cola, MasterCard, Nestlé, Greenpeace, Amnesty… and of course Deloitte!
What does your work for Deloitte involve?
I head up the Creative Team, designing and producing digital and print communications for the Deloitte brand across New Zealand. From events to websites, advertising to internal initiatives, it’s my responsibility to ensure the creative output is high quality, on-brand, on-budget and on-time. A major part of my time is dedicated to helping embed the Deloitte brand internally through training, guidelines, branded templates and good old-fashioned face-to-face consultancy.
What is the foundation of a great brand?
Brand is the culmination of everyday interactions with your customers or clients – both emotional and transactional. From the expectations created by communications, to the experience a customer has with your company - that’s your brand. And ultimately, what defines your brand is ‘purpose’.
Purpose is the cornerstone of your brand, so having a purpose of ‘making money’ isn’t going to cut it. There will be many companies in your industry offering what you do, so you need to differentiate. You also need to remember that today’s customers want to build relationships with brands, so an emotional connection is crucial.
Your company’s purpose is not a tag-line - it’s the philosophical heartbeat, it’s outward looking, it’s what you’re doing for other people. In the food industry, Kellogg’s purpose is: “Nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive”. When creating your own brand purpose, my advice is to think of yourself as the customer and ask, “What do I want from this brand?”
Once you have defined your purpose, it will be reflected in the other blocks of your brand foundation: values, personality, tone of voice and visual identity.
How can you encourage your employees to get engaged in your brand?
Without question, this is the most crucial step to establishing your brand. If your people are not engaged with the brand, then neither will your customers or potential clients. Here are three key ways to engage with your people:
1) Articulate and share the brand purpose and company values
Ensure that these are reflected in core internal communications, careers and recruitment campaigns and on-boarding.
2) Engage your people in the process
Involve your employees in determining how your brand values come to life day-to-day. If they are not involved and can’t see their own input, then they will say “this is not who I work for”.
3) Align, embed and celebrate
Align the way your people do business to your purpose and make people from top to bottom accountable. Embed your brand in the day-to-day, through brand values and behaviours. Celebrate and reward your people who truly live and breathe the brand through their actions and behaviours.
What’s the common mistakes businesses make in building their brands?
There are two big ones. The first is trying to be all things to all people. That’s a recipe for mediocrity, as well as being nigh-on impossible to achieve. Your brand needs to stand out amongst the competition so you have to let your customers know what makes it unique and authentic. That’s why having a single-minded purpose is so important.
The second is inconsistency. If you’re not consistent in your messaging, visual identity and tone of voice across all of your communications, your brand will go nowhere. From your website to your advertising and social media, make sure that all communications feel like they have come from the same place.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to a company trying to establish and build their brand?
Call in the professionals and commission a brand consultancy. It’s a false economy to do a DIY job, because in the long run it will cost you more to fix.
Remember, as well as creating a strategy and identity for your brand, a good consultancy will have qualified experience of working with other companies. Plus, they have the advantage of not being you, which means you’ll get an objective approach because of the emotional detachment.