Why the best branding has style AND substance

12 July 2022 | 6 min read | Digital
Helen Fripp

[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”4.6.5″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.6.5″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”4.6.5″ _module_preset=”default”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.6.5″ _module_preset=”default” custom_margin=”||11px|||”]

“In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.” ― Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks.

It’s true, a brand is so much more than an advertising campaign, a colour or a typeface. It has to start with you, with a mission and a clear vision. It’s bigger than just what you sell. Every organisation has a personality, a way of doing things, and a reason why, and like people, that’s what makes them unique.

Of course, if you have a totally unique product, or offer, something that no one else is doing, all the better. But for the most part, that’s not the case. You’re operating in a sector that’s providing very similar things to you, and you need to define what sets you apart, and communicate that to your audience.

Assuming you’ve got your offer right, your brand is what helps connect you with audiences and inspires loyalty and buy-in from employees and customers alike.


[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src=”https://www.clearlypr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/pexels-alena-darmel-7710074-scaled-e1657634991793.jpg” title_text=”pexels-alena-darmel-7710074″ _builder_version=”4.6.5″ _module_preset=”default”][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.6.5″ _module_preset=”default” min_height=”929.9px” custom_margin=”||-40px|||” custom_padding=”||0px|||”]

So, how do you set about defining and disseminating your brand?

Hopefully you will already have a clear
vision and mission, something you would have set from the start. But if you haven’t, you need to ensure you’ve got that nailed. After that, no one person can define your brand – it should involve the whole organisation, so it’s good to start with a workshop where you include or represent as many people from every level of your organisation as possible.

Set aside some time, ideally out of the workplace, and ask them a series of questions, and lay the ground rules. Rule number one; encourage absolute honesty and transparency. Two, there are no right or wrong answers, and no one will be quoted in the final report.

With this established, you can begin to explore. These sessions are best facilitated by an external agency as you’ll be too close to your own business. And looking from the outside in, there’s nothing like hearing it from the horse’s mouth, as you work to distil the essence of your organisation.

Key considerations:

  • Who are your audience/stakeholders and what are their motivations and beliefs in relation to your offer?
  • How would you describe what your offer to those audiences?
  • What makes your organisation unique?
  • How do you think your audience/stakeholders would describe you?
  • Where do you fit within your sector and how do they present themselves?
  • What values do you hold dear as an organisation, essentially, what gets you up in the mornings in relation to your jobs?



[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src=”https://www.clearlypr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Clearly-blog-images-19-e1657633958424.jpg” title_text=”Clearly blog images (19)” _builder_version=”4.6.5″ _module_preset=”default” min_height=”202.9px”][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.6.5″ _module_preset=”default” custom_padding=”20px|||||”]It’s worth exploring a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) at this stage, even if you’ve already done one for your organisation, as we all work in a constantly evolving landscape – it’s a brilliant way of defining your own offer within the wider industry. It’s a deep dive into recognising what you’re good at, and areas where you could be better.

Don’t forget to look to the future – you might be undertaking a rebrand because you’re at a crossroads in your organisation’s development. A review of your goals is helpful at this point – where do you want to be in five years’ time? What will your position in the sector be, and what will you want to be known for, other than what’s already in place?

There are myriad ways to gather this information, from break-out sessions, word challenges, group discussions and mind games. If you’re short of time and resources, a pile of post-its and marker pens work just as well.

What’s really key is for everyone to contribute (even the quiet ones) and for every single person in the room to feel like they have a voice. We have run sessions where the MD or Senior Leadership Team (SLT) has purposely kept out of it. They’re often the ones required to articulate the above on behalf of their organisation, so this leaves space to hear from people who aren’t always necessarily repeating the company line.[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src=”https://www.clearlypr.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/pexels-fauxels-3182749-scaled-e1657635331895.jpg” title_text=”pexels-fauxels-3182749″ _builder_version=”4.6.5″ _module_preset=”default”][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.6.5″ _module_preset=”default”]From these findings, you should draw up a final report which summarises over-arching sentiments from each exercise, and share with the whole team for their input/comment to ensure everyone is bought-in and agrees it’s a fair summary. From there, it’s useful to collate and distil your findings under five distinct headings:

  • Purpose
  • Perception
  • Identity
  • Values
  • Experience

And that’s where the magic begins. At this point, you want to make sure you have skilled creatives on board who can turn all these sentiments into a visual and written language that will resonate with your employees and audiences alike. 

That’s where the colours, typefaces, images, iconography, copywriting skills and illustrations really do count towards your brand. It’s difficult to say what’s wrong with design when it’s not working, but you just know when it’s right. To a skilled eye, so much has gone into getting it right, from the line spacing, to the graphic device that leads you to key information on your website, to an original way of treating images that are unique to you and convey the feelings and values that makes your organisation what it is.

How do you feel when you walk into an Apple store, as opposed to PC World? Waitrose vs Aldi, Lloyds vs Monzo? None of these brand identities happened by chance, and the way they project themselves to the outside world, and make you feel, has been carefully curated. Don’t forget, it’s true that marketing and design is key for all brands, but ultimately the most successful ones are built from the heart.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]