Brand engagement agency in Melbourne providing brand strategy, design and communications to create truer, deeper and richer brand relationships. Working with clients in Australia, New Zealand and across Asia Pacific.
The digital revolution is a bonanza of new brands.
The web does two amazing things at the same time, it provides a seemingly infinite number of sites, information and social platforms whilst at the same time intuitively sorting them so we are only exposed to those we are looking for. The internet has seen an explosion of brands as each new site comes with it’s own value proposition and visual identity. What is equally interesting from a brand strategy perspective is the architecture of relationships between many of the brands. Whether they have been developed to complement a portfolio, or acquired for similar reasons, getting a sight of which businesses own which digital brands is a study in strategic portfolio building mixed with a good dose of chaotic multi-plays.
Either way the illustration below from www.16best.net shines a light on the web of brand architecture and feeds the curiosity of brand relationships on the net.
Goodwin & Goodwin are a creative sign company based in North London. They recently worked with film makers; Reuben Armstrong and Jamie Neale to create a short promotional film about their business. In this short film we get a sense of their eclectic team of architects, designers, typographers and sign makers. From their passion for retro typography, through to their pride in their craft, this is an engaging and human documentary about a business based-on hand-crafted design and teamwork.
As an asset to capture the essence of a business, short film can be a great promotional tool. As with this little beauty it can capture the craft, personality and philosophy of a business whilst providing a sense of their brand personality. The Goodwin & Goodwin film has had more than 36,000 views to-date, which at around 20c per view is cheaper and more effective than a business card.
Watching the film I was reminded that signage might just be the most overlooked brand canvas. Over the last decade, technology has made signs cheaper and simpler for businesses to create. The introduction of cost effective, large format, four colour adhesive vinyl printing has led to the loss of much of the craft of signage design and with it the role of signage to positively impact brand perception.
Looking at the new launch videos for Google’s new Material design, I can’t help but feel they are locking the platform into uniformity. For all the talk of tailoring the look and feel of your apps brand, the tools provided seem at first glance to lack the ability to create truly unique and interesting experiences in app design. While I’m sure the work Google have done with the Material Design has lifted the bottom of the range up, I feel that it’s at the expense of homogenising the design and killing differentiating experience and therefore brand. Have a look for your self and see what you think:
US online retailer; ‘Brandless’ made waves this week when it opened it’s first physical pop-up in West Hollywood, LA. The proposition of this retailer is an unbranded (plain label) $3-everything approach, taking the private label mindset and disrupting it. Brandless is neither a traditional private label business nor a traditional discount retailer, operating outside standard retail formats that have always defined these categories.
From a branding viewpoint, the most interesting dimension of this retailer is that whilst leveraging the ‘value’ proposition evoked by it’s name, Brandless has demonstrated they have a firm and sophisticated grasp on the art of branding.
Brandless sure behaves like a brand.
The Brandless brand might say ‘plain label’ and the products they sell might not be a roster of consumer brands, but everything else the Brandless brand does is carefully considered and well crafted.
• The copy which communicates the sharp brand value proposition has a well defined and consistently cheeky, consumer oriented brand personality.
• The design of it’s packaging is simple and elegant, but far from plain and unbranded. Whilst it moves away from the traditional product pic and busy mnemonic device format of much FMCG packaging, the Brandless packaging design effectively creates a consistently strong and attractive brand asset.
• Equally clever is the development of the concept of a ‘Brand tax (the hidden costs you pay for other brands) which builds another clever layer of the brand value story. The Brand tax idea rationalizes the low price point without perceptions of a low quality level, whilst at the same time positioning the brand as a consumer champion against those brands that charge customers more on account of the brand.
• Brandless takes this ‘consumer champion’ positioning and connects powerfully with their community through a shared belief system and brand values.
• Finally, Brandless also connects with a higher purpose through their partnership to help fight hunger with a national not-for-profit, providing a free meal with every purchase made on their web site.
Online goes offline.
For an online brand that behaves incredibly similar to a traditional brand, what would you expect as a next move but to open a bricks and mortar store. As much as the Brandless LA pop-up is about building brand awareness, it still reflects a growing trend of online retailers evolving to an ‘online and offline’ model that we are seeing playing out.
So is Brandless a ‘same as all the other brands’ kind of brand after-all, whitewashing itself to confuse consumers into thinking it’s something it is not? Perhaps it is or perhaps it isn’t, but the one thing for sure is no-one is being hoodwinked. Today’s consumer is in the driver’s seat, selecting the brands they include in their lives with a level of sophistication and intuitive filtering like never before. The only successful brands will be those who connect with the value system of their audience/community through what they do as well as what they say. As long as the business is ethical and authentic, beyond that does anything else really matter?
Brand identity, naming and packaging for handmade Italian leather flats.
Working collaboratively with the brand’s designer, we unlocked Cammino’s true differentiation. A unique blend of Italian provenance, quality leather and artisan craftsmanship is at the heart to the value proposition. This was then brought to life with an evocative brand story.
The name ‘Cammino’ which means ‘to walk’ in Italian, builds another essence layer to the brand strategy. This also aligns to the brand’s belief that life is an adventure to be lived to the full.
Cammino is comfortable and stylish, made with the quality and flair found only in Italy. A shoe that fits snugly in your bag to slip-on for the journey home from work, racing between meetings, picking up the kids, or dancing the night away.
The Cammino brand identity takes visual cues from Italy, fashion and craftsmanship of traditional shoemaking. The brandmark is a distinctive hand-crafted typemark inspired by the design cues of the fashion category and designed to evoke a sense of craftsmanship. This is supported by a palette of soft colours and bold highlights. The brand imagery also dials up the brand’s Italian provenance combined with the key dimensions of fashion and craftsmanship.
Cammino marries artisan tradition with contemporary design to create the ultimate ballet flat. They are designed in Australia, made in Italy and sold direct to consumers online. Cammino’s are an everyday luxury for your feet, to suit any mood, outfit or occasion. Find out more about the brand here.
Working on a project currently we have a client keen to steer the creative process of their brand identity design in the direction of a logotype, that is a brand mark made-up of the word only without a symbol.
I’ve nothing against logotype branding solutions per se, but my philosophy has always been based on finding the strongest possible solution relevant to the market.
In some markets such as cosmetics and fashion, many of the aspirational brands in the category have word-based brand marks. In these cases, a brand wishing to leverage the visual code of the category would be well advised to follow-suit. However a brand wishing to be seen as a disruptor in that market would do well to take an alternate approach and develop a symbol-based brand identity.
For most markets, the category code is a symbol-based brand mark or either a symbol based or wordmark based brand identity. In these cases, our approach is always to explore the possibilities of a brand symbol as the key element in the identity design.
The benefits of a brand identity symbol.
There are a couple of compelling reasons to consider a brand symbol in your identity design solution. Firstly, with few exceptions, a symbol can more clearly and evocatively communicate brand associations – whether they be functional or emotive – than a piece of logotype design. Secondly a symbol is almost always more memorable than a word mark. These two reasons alone can be the difference between effectively building the value in your brand’s visual asset or not.
The automotive brandmarks at the top of this article prove this point. I am by no means a car buff, but can recite the brand names of every car, along with my sense of the brand associations. At a glance, a car passing on the road can be identified and immediately coloured by both positive and negative brand associations in my mind. Those associations then flow-on to the driver of the car – which in simple but powerful terms captures the way brands work.
A Mazda driver may immediately be associated with attributes of middle class, sensible with a little bit of style. An Audi driver with wealthy, successful, performance oriented and maybe a bit of a tosser (although probably not as much as the BMW driver following him). The Holden driver is a hard working Australian, honest as the day is long and more interested in having a beer with his mates than the car he drives. Each of us will have different layers of brand association derived from the brand’s advertising over time, as well as peer perceptions and personal experience. One of my neighbors growing up drove a white Peugeot for many years. He was a lovely man, always kind and friendly. Without much by-way of alternative brand inputs, I have always viewed Peugeot owners positively as a result.
So what’s the answer for your brand?
As with all aspects of branding, market insights and sound brand strategy hold the answers to which brand identity design solution will serve you best. But if I was to offer two pieces of advice they’d be; 01. Don’t discount a brand symbol from your identity without due consideration, and 02. Come talk to us first to chart the best course for your brand design.
It’s been a busy month for new business in Truly Deeply, which we’re all loving. Lots of new clients, new projects and interesting branding challenges for us to tackle. But one new business meeting in particular stands out at the moment, not because the size of the client or project, but because its proof of the value to a business of brand differentiation.
In a first for me we had a kick off meeting with a business owner and their legal representation. They are attempting to legally stop a competitor from using their name in SEO, paid ads and urls. The problem is their name, while descriptive, is completely generic. So is their brand identity. So the legal advice is to either keep playing a very expensive game of whack-a-mole with them or rename and rebrand the business.
We’ve always believed in the effectiveness of good branding: it better leverages every dollar spent in communication and promotion. And we know that great brands are truly differentiated form the competition and category so they not only stand out but create their own unique space. Now we have it from solid legal advice whenever you think of working on your brand you must work to differentiate. Only then will the brand and the business have any value beyond it’s assets.
A powerful, purpose led and culturally sensitive brand that protects, connects and inspires.
The Keeping Place has a bold vision to be a sustainable digital cultural centre for all Indigenous Australians.
Roberta Molson, Heritage Specialist at Fortescue Metals Group Ltd says the brand development process, didn’t just result in an inspiring brand for our project – it also helped our team strengthen our own understanding of what we were trying to achieve.
“It helped us come together as project partners with a strong, combined vision.”
Working closely with key stakeholders, we crafted a carefully considered and meaningful brand proposition. This defined what The Keeping Place is, and more importantly, why it matters. It also clarifies the importance of ownership and access to the data.
The strategic proposition is built around a powerful purpose of ‘digitally connecting culture and country to create new opportunities’. This was supported by detail audience profiles, values and a belief system that provides clarity and direction to all internal stakeholders. An evocative brand story, positioning, personality and series of key messages provide a robust and flexible framework to guide and align external brand communication.
The identity design brings to life the importance of connection to country for Indigenous Australians in a modern, sensitive and respectful way with multiple layers of meaning.
The layers depict the different levels of access and cultural protocols at the heart of the platform. It also has a strong connotation of the layers of earth and landscape bringing to life visually the connection to country through culture.
The shapes come together, change, morph and grow organically with flowing lines that bring to life the strength of song lines, different voices coming together to form a whole. Vibrant colours bring a bright and inspiring modern interpretation of the harmony and rhythm of culture for generations to come
Truly Deeply provided the keeping place with stakeholder consultation, strategic brand proposition, messaging, brand story, brand identity, website design, stationery, templates, collateral and campaign design.
The Keeping Place is a powerful, innovative and safe tool for collecting, protecting and appropriately sharing cultural knowledge. Secure and customisable, The Keeping Place is an online platform that enables Traditional Owners to regain data sovereignty, apply cultural protocols, improve governance and unlock social and economic opportunities for current and future generations.
Today’s guest article has been penned by the very smart people at eatbigfish. eatbigfish is a strategic brand consultancy with a single focus: challenger thinking and behavior. Founded by Adam Morgan after he wrote Eating the Big Fish – the book that popularised the term ‘challenger brand’ – the company (with offices now in London, NY and San Fran) exists to study challenger behaviour and work with businesses who want to become challengers themselves. We’ve long admired what eatbigfish do and the way they do it and are stoked to be sharing a taste of their thinking with you.
Launched to raise awareness of slavery and child labour in the cocoa industry, Tony’s Chocolonely has reached €44.9m in annual revenue and is now the market leading brand in the Netherlands. It’s also hit this milestone without a single piece of paid advertising. How has it done this? And what can we learn?
#1 CHANGE THE CRITERIA FOR CHOICE
‘100% slave free’ chocolate is Tony’s mission. It is, aside from a number of niche brands, a brand proposition Tony’s can uniquely own. So whilst there are other slave free brands, none are as famous for challenging child slavery, or as successful in doing so, as Tony’s.
Whilst commercial chocolate brands might previously have competed on price, quality or taste, Tony’s has now introduced the consumer to ‘slave free’. It’s an entirely new criteria of choice, and one which Tony’s competitors can now be judged against.
With 72% of consumers willing to recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn’t (a 39% increase since 2008), it’s likely that it’s this ethical stance which is driving the word of mouth responsible for its rapid growth – revenue is up 53% on the previous year.
By introducing a new criteria of choice for consumers, this mission-led business has reframed the category to its advantage and firmly positioned itself as the thought leader, and the brand which competitors are either forced to emulate, or will try hard to ignore.
#2 RIGHT MESSAGE, RIGHT TIME
Having someone talk about serious humanitarian issues within seconds of a first date would be a turn-off right? (Child slavery in Ghana? Really?)
Initially, a date needs to make a good first impression. Have they made an effort? Are they engaging? Interesting? Fun?
Deeper, more meaningful conversation can follow.
The same could be said for the first impression of a brand. Tony’s Chocolonely has a serious mission at its heart. However, its initial task is to focus on ensuring its first interaction with consumers, is simply one they won’t forget.
Tony’s doesn’t look like any other commercial chocolate brand. Amongst Fair Trade brands too, which are sometimes accused of an overtly ‘worthy’ look and tone of voice, this is a bold and refreshing visual identity that makes an impact.
Like the Wonka bars of the 1971 fantasy film, chocolate is not referenced on the outer wrapper. Instead, thickset, serif typography stretches to the bar’s edge. The wrapper uses uncoated paper, which feels rough to touch, contrasting to the norms of chocolate packaging.
Despite being its raison d’être, the serious mission to tackle child slavery in the supply chain, is largely communicated to consumers only once the bar has been flipped over or unwrapped.
It’s a communications strategy that acknowledges that in order to give most oxygen and awareness to the problem and its 100% slave free mission, Tony’s first need is to get the bars noticed and into people’s hands.
#3 SEE EVERYTHING AS A MEDIUM
Tony’s has a principle not to use paid media. Instead, a pull marketing approach focuses the brand’s effort inwards.
Rather than hustle, knock on doors and pay-to-play, Tony’s is dedicated to making what is inside the company interesting and valuable; having consumers actively seek out the brand, rather than be targeted.
In denying itself traditional advertising, marketing opportunities could appear limited. The benefit, however, is that it forces existing free or ‘house media’, to work that much harder. In fact, the denial of paid media might lead to opportunities surfacing in media not usually considered ‘media’ at all.
Instead of the usual chocolate squares, Tony’s bar is divided into unequal and uneven pieces. The uneven portions represent the unfair and unequal cocoa industry that sees company CEOs paid millions, whilst children at the beginning of the supply chain work without rights and for free.
One could see the product generally as a clever tool for referral. Whether the bar, wrapper, packaging, mission or the convention busting aesthetic, at each touchpoint there is a story or a compelling attribute that can’t easily be ignored.
In this way, Tony’s provide consumers with ample material to talk about and share the brand and mission, growing the business as well as awareness of an important issue, without advertising.
Maybe it’s not all just about Facebook ads after all.