EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited.
This week we look at branding.
Question one: What are the key considerations when developing a new brand? Should a business consider using an external agency?
Response from Made in Britain member StitchedBoxes: The majority of people ALWAYS go for the logo design first which is a bad step. The first step should be finding the purpose and aim of the brand, what you're looking to achieve. External agencies can be used in various aspects, for advice, for design, for marketing, or for literally everything! Whether you want to go down this route depends on your skillset, time commitment, and your own confidence.
Made in Britain: Do you think businesses (especially small ones) actually look for external help or maybe they don't know what help they need?
StitchedBoxes: Most definitely, considering the different areas of marketing. A person without experience probably wouldn't know the difference between brand marketing, content marketing, digital marketing etc.
Made in Britain: or possibly even simpler than that - do they actually know what a brand is? Do many people think a brand is just the logo?
Response: This is where education comes in. Trademarks, Copyright, Registered designs and patents are the visible parts. A brand identity is far deeper and affects every person and aspect of the business. Protecting that is about reputation management.
StitchedBoxes: Oh yes, it can be very complicated explaining branding to someone with little experience in it. Pantone colours are a particularly tricky obstacle to define to a non-tech savvy person. "What's wrong with this blue, it looks the same?" is an all too common question.
Response: And that is the worry. Brand is not just the logo or name style. It is much much more. Unfortunately, the logo for a fiver doesn't really work in a professional setting.
Response: The issues of branding often reach beyond the knowledge of the Mfg team. External support is essential in getting the right help. Start with the IPO where you will find a great deal of information.
Made in Britain: If you don't know what you don't know do you think that small companies do go and seek help?
Response: That is a good question. Do Business advisors and consultants bring the subject of IP and branding up in the client’s strategy? It is an educational process. By raising awareness, it will help increase uptake and protection
Response: Agencies are good. There's a lot of knowledge and experience but that's costly. When we refreshed our brand, we managed it all in-house. Key considerations for us included maintaining the Pantone colours and the essence of the logo (sun rising behind hills). A lot of who we are relates to our location and the idea of a 'big city consultancy' at local rates. We're proud of where we're from and we want our brand to reflect that
Response: A brand should reflect who you are, and while 'big city consultancies' are scary, there are several smaller, agile brand professionals who can assist, many of whom are local to the businesses. As with everything, it depends on the skill-set and resources you have available.
Made in Britain: That's an interesting observation about externals being costly. Is it a case of trying to calculate the ROI on doing such a thing?
Response: Yes, calculating ROI is part of it but as StitchedBoxes said, it depends more on whether you feel you have the skill set in order to undertake that work effectively.
Response: We planned to hire an agency or independent designer, and had the budget, but in the course of compiling our brief we found we had such a strong idea ourselves and we went with it. Watch this space for our re-brand, we are very excited :)
Response: Also calculating ROI on a brand is a long-term activity, as a well-crafted brand will add immense value locally and internationally and will add equity to the business. So, my advice is to have a robust business strategy and build in brand as part of that strategy.
Response: Target Audience, their needs and how your USP fits into the market you are aiming at. Using an external agency is all dependent on budget, time and skillset available.
Made in Britain: Is one of the challenges to know that you need external help?
Response: Definitely, and choosing the right agency/freelancer/designer is a tough junction.
Response: What co's want from their brands will vary w time & goals (e.g. cost/exclusivity/sustainability/mkt ranking/local v global), so I would say distinctiveness, impact, durability & broad appeal are initial considerations w. advice as req'd & affordable...
Made in Britain: The global nature is interesting. Should this be considered from the outset as many businesses have tried to roll out a global brand only to encounter local issues due to competing products, language...
Response: Definitely consider a broad appeal to allow easy scaling w/o local hiccups; this should also allow for your brand evolve to fit your co as it grows.
Response: Sometimes start-ups don't know who their target markets are. With time your ideal customer emerges, and that's when the brand-building can really start. Of course, some visionaries know from the start - they're the lucky ones!
Made in Britain: That is an interesting perception. Some companies create products for a sector and some companies find a sector for their products?
Response: Yes, I think you're right there. Especially with how quickly things change, sometimes you find your product/service is perfect for a sector you hadn't even thought of!
Response: First things first, figure out how you want to be perceived by your target audience. Then you can communicate based on this perception and its promises (and this is where you can use external agencies) but make sure to be consistent with the messaging
Response: It's always worth considering bringing in expertise when it's not your usual field or strength. Branding is so important to what your business is and how it is perceived that it should be given a lot of thought up-front.
Response: Interesting topic as rebranding is something we are drawing up plans for in 2021.
Response: A brand arises from the inherent qualities of a business, not the spin from an agency... but an agency might be helpful in communicating your message.
Response from Made in Britain member Alltrade Printers: It’s always good to get the experts to do what they know best and you do what you know best
Question two: When should a business consider refreshing an existing brand?
Response: If you're going through or forecast to go through major growth as a business, it could be a good idea to reassess your branding to make sure you're still targeting the right audience with your messaging and branding. Many businesses use mergers or new product ranges to refresh and rebrand!
Made in Britain: Are there several key reasons why you'd refresh a brand and these include both positive and negative reasons?
Response: Main ones would be that product offering has changed significantly over time and offer doesn't fit the current brand proposition. Likewise, the customer base might have changed and doesn't match the positioning.
Response: Small tweaks can be done as you learn from feedback. Bigger refreshes I would say should be tied to major changes in circumstances - such as size, customer base, a new strategy...as long as there is a reason to do it, otherwise, it will be confusing.
Made in Britain: Refresh rather than rebrand?
Response: Refresh always!
Response from StitchedBoxes: That usually revolves around current trends and modernisation in the industry you're in. They say "if it's not broke, don't fix it" but sometimes making changes to adapt to an ever-changing industry is what is needed to get that little boost.
Response: Definitely agree with StichedBoxes. If your business is growing and evolving, a good way to demonstrate this is through your brand.
Response: A brand should be refreshed when a business evolves past its initial principles. A business is not the same on its first day as it is in its tenth year.
Response: If the market no longer responds to the existing brand, then change. Saying that, if the evolution can be done in a way that capitalises on the firm's history, all the better.
Response: Keep an eye on any negative connotations with the name, colour, design etc. and sometimes, a change is as good as a rest, brighten things up, remind people of your existence!
Response: Only when you see trends changing in your specific area and the need to update will benefit you and your audience. And that it has been ages since your last refresh!
Response: We don’t think there’s a real ‘time scale’ for refreshing your brand. Instead, you should organise it around major changes in your business, i.e. a milestone (we recently turned 50, for example) or the launch of a new line of products etc
Response: I think it boils down to where you draw the line between the two. How big can a refresh be before it is interpreted as a rebrand by the market?
Response: That will depend on how the brand is evolving. A major rebrand can signify a major activity to the market, such as a merger, and this can affect the company's stocks and shares if publicly-quoted. It will also affect the market's perception and they will question why.
Response: If your message has changed, or you have pivoted and started to provide different products and services or target a different audience, then you need to re-assess your brand to make sure it is still relevant.
Response: A brand must be dynamic, and relate to what you are doing, and to the way the market is evolving. Sometimes, a brand refresh is triggered by changing buying-behaviours and preferences... such as an emphasis on sustainability or green. Sometimes, they mark a milestone.
Question three: When should a business consider using different brands for a similar product?
Response: Branding a product or service for international markets means the brand might need tweaking to accommodate different cultures, languages etc.
Response: Definitely, do your research before entering international markets to ensure branding is accommodating!
Made in Britain: What is best to do? Try to create a brand that would work globally or tweak to individual markets? There must be a cost implication?
Response: While tweaking a brand for different markets may be costly, you’re likely to achieve a lot more reach than if you have one standard, global, brand. Even powerhouses like Nike ‘tweak’ their messages in different countries, continents, by using local sportspeople, for instance.
Response: When it is operating in different markets or cultures. The same brand name or design may not work well across borders - we all know about what happens when names or design get lost in translation. There may also be issues with trademarks.
Made in Britain: There are many examples of brands that haven't worked internationally for many reasons including translations. Is there any justification for different brands within the same country?
Response: It depends if there is a separate use for the product, although that is a very fine line, as it could be a sub-brand. At a time when the market reach is digital, so not restricted by borders, it has to make business sense to go down that route.
Response: The importance of understanding cultural differences is important when planning an international strategy. There are many often amusing case studies of mistakes made by big-name brands that have fallen foul of cultural confusions.
Response: Even in the same country. we have many cases in Wales of mistakes and offence being caused because the translation did not come over as intended
StitchedBoxes: I'd say so, for example, if we decided to sell boxes without our well-known stitches, I don't think it'd sit right under the branding of "StitchedBoxes". It's still the same product, designed for the same purpose but we'd enact a new brand for that range.
Made in Britain: Do some businesses make small changes to the product to sell into a different level of a market. e.g. the luxury/high end
Response: Yes, that would create a different market for it - although it should have a clear USP to differentiate it from the lower end product, otherwise it creates confusion in the mind of the buyer.
Response: Yes, a good example is Yorkshire Tea and Yorkshire Gold. They explain Yorkshire Gold is made from more expensive, more luxurious tea leaves which adds to the cost.
Response from StitchedBoxes: Sometimes branding can differ between countries and cultures, branding for a product for sale in England may be vastly different than USA for example.
Response: There are many companies that have different brands to target different customer groups. The supermarkets are very good at their different ranges. Luxury for those with high budgets and value for those who have tighter budgets. all under the same roof.
Question four: Have you any success stories or lessons learned to share about your brand development or previous brands?
Response: Probably the best know recent brand that made headlines for the wrong reason was Peloton. It had to review its brand messaging and positioning after the backlash using stereotypes in its advertising. There are many examples of excellent branding for manufactured products here in the UK and internationally, and what you find when you look at them is that you can clearly see what they stand for, how they add value and how they touch you, ie why you love them as a brand.
Response: Gymshark springs to mind as a British brand success story; building their design & marketing capabilities is a focus for them, & their approach has paid off in spades.
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