Helping a tired brand reach new heights

Who are they?

Tendring Mental Health Support was founded as a charity in 1976 to work with vulnerable adults in the local area (Tendring) with mental health issues or learning disabilities, to give them a voice, let them know their rights and subtly educate them.

As an organisation their service offerings have changed over that time and they no longer deal only with mental health issues and have since become known as TMHS, as they no longer only serve the Tendring area, but instead they are now Essex wide, and they now primarily provide counseling and advocacy services.


The environment in which TMHS operates has changed dramatically in recent years, and as such change for the organisation had also become inevitable. The organization was facing several issues such as;


Overall the TMHS brand did not inspire potential commissioners of health services to overlook the competition and choose TMHS. They didn’t have a tagline that accurately conveyed their brand positioning and what makes them unique. Their brand didn’t stand out and was not well recognised amongst those they wished to target as customers and of the people who did recognise it, their perception was that they were not what they desired. There was very little marketing or brand promotion and what there was, was inconsistent in look, tone of voice and message. Their customer offering was neither clear nor easily understood.

The client recognised that the entire healthcare sector and how it was procured and commissioned had evolved dramatically over the last 40 years, and as such it was time to re-examine the entire organisation and brand identity, to better reflect the more contemporary, dynamic attitude of today and the services they now provided.

It was felt that the established brand name and identity was creating misperceptions within the marketplace: it was slowing the organisation down and did not reflect a forward-thinking organisation forever trying to offer a better, more innovative service.
However, care had to be taken not to compromise the signature caring approach of the organisation, which had earned a strong local reputation for the personal touch as well as open, honest professionalism in every detail.


TMHS commissioned Darwin Brand Consultants initially to conduct a Brand Audit, to assess TMHS’s current position in the market compared to their competitors, and a review of its effectiveness including;



The Brand Audit uncovered many current issues and challenges as well as opportunities for the future. We took what we learned in the audit and put in place a brand strategy for achieving TMHS’s desired goals and objectives through brand communications. Key deliverables from the Brand Strategy included;


It was agreed that the organisation should be renamed to reflect the current market opportunities. The new name should reflect the brand values and positioning of the organization along with the introduction of a tagline that reinforces the company’s key messages. A new brand logo would then be designed, combining symbols, fonts, colours and overall shape to reflect the organisations brand values and communicate the compelling truths of the brand.


The final brand logo that emerged is light, bright, passionate and above all inspirational. It’s clean-cut, open with a Client centred ethos – Supportive, Ethical, Trustworthy, Helpful, Empowering, Reliable, Approachable, Empathy, Caring, Integrity, Conscientious, Compassionate, honesty and Openness are all prized assets of SUMMIT, the new name for the organisation.

Colours were chosen carefully to emphasise the energy and positivity that typifies the organisation, which all help it to stand out in an environment that too readily settles for me-too solutions.

“On behalf of Tendring Mental Health Support, I wish to sincerely thank Vincent and Suzie Bissette of Darwin Brand Consultants for their hard work which has resulted in us having a brilliant new brand identity, incorporating a new brand name, brand logo and tag line under the new brand name of SUMMIT. The thought and advice we received throughout was greatly appreciated by all at TMHS”.

Graham Thornton, Chair of Trustees, TMHS/SUMMIT

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Out of the blue, or in this case green, we received a call from a small company called TUICE. When we say ‘small’, we mean three university students who have concocted two juices. But their ideas and ambition are big.

With encouragement and support from the University of Loughborough, the students had developed a healthy ‘lifestyle’ drink that not only tastes great but also could help you lose weight and improve your metabolism. “It’s the green tea that does it,” revealed Jerelle Oroko, Tuice Co-Founder.

So far so creative, and there’s an attractive unique selling point in the green tea angle, but what about marketing? The TUICE team had been persuaded it was time to get professional about brand identity: that’s when they got in touch with Darwin Branding Consultancy.


The drinks, laden with natural fruit juices, are delicious (Apple, Honey & Chocolate, and Lavender, Lychee & Pear since you ask) and the lads’ sheer dynamism and ambition are persuasive factors. All of which helps strengthen the marketing cause.

The sheer quirkiness of the whole set up also possesses a peculiar appeal: here is something original in its inception, background, content and presentation. Quirky can have its pitfalls of course, because nobody can feel 100 percent confident about something they’ve never seen (or drunk) before, but being different can be valuable.

Better still, being different in the marketplace can give you enough traction in peoples’ minds to get your brand established quickly. If you handle it wisely.

We assessed the scale of the opposition in the juices market (think Innocent, for one monster brand out there). The team raised its sights and its game and started considering media beyond Instagram, Tweeting and virtual videos on the TUICE Facebook page.

How can you go anywhere if you don’t know where you are?

We interviewed the TUICE team in our usual manner, to help clarify:

Calm consideration generated even more confidence: the admirable but slightly hazy, long-term goal of TUICE being offered in major fast food outlets and supermarkets UK-wide, and becoming a national brand, started to come more into focus.

Together we agreed that the TUICE identity should reflect an artisan approach that is straightforward, relaxed, refreshing and happy (a bit like the lads themselves). A proper brand is taking shape, with a distinctive, relevant look and tone of voice.

“Darwin are amazing! We have built a relationship that shows they really care for their customers. They work to the highest standards and provide a very easy and reliable customer experience. Whenever I need any sort of branding work done or advice, I contact them as soon as possible and would never hesitate to push their services to someone else! ”

Jerelle Okoro, Co-Founder/Creative Director, Tuice

What happens next?
Labelling and packaging will shortly go into production. The TUICE team have gained a clear idea of where they stand in the market, and where they’d like to be in the short, mid and long term. With assistance from their university they continue to pursue their dream. And you know what? They have enough solid brand values to help them make it a reality.

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Want to Build Sales? Build a Brand.

Ask Disney, ask Nike, ask Coca-Cola, ask Mercedes-Benz. They’ll all confirm that one of the most effective sales strategies your business can put to work is the crafting of a powerful corporate brand. Put your company branding together well and it can:

  • Make your business even more distinctive in the marketplace
  • Increase sales and profits
  • Attract top quality opportunities amid times of prosperity
  • Help your business stay resilient and emerge stronger from times of austerity

Professional corporate branding connects customers and prospects to your company through emotions, rational presentation of facts, and provision of services and products that please the customers. A robust, sure-footed brand also finds ways to say to clients, “Here is a successful, problem-solving way forward: this is the brand that helps clients resolve their issues and equips them with what they need.”

Effective branding isn’t a Mickey Mouse affair (or maybe it is)

Consider Disney. The Disney brand didn’t just appear fully formed, like Mary Poppins arriving on the east wind: here is a brand created over many years – from inauspicious beginnings – to consistently extol values that complement wholesome family fun, service excellence and clean environments.

Nothing is left to chance at Disney. It is Disney company policy to hire only people who meet its high standards; full training is undergone before anyone is allowed to mingle with ‘guests’ to deliver exemplary customer experiences.  The brand culture and vision suffuses all that they do, all the time. There was even a heated debate over whether male employees, or rather ‘cast members’, at EuroDisney Paris should be allowed facial hair. It was a close shave, but French defence of personal liberty won the day (although beards must be no longer than a quarter of an inch). That’s how seriously Disney take branding.

Thankfully for branding directors like me, you don’t need to be a large company to benefit from branding expertise. Any medium-size enterprise, small business or even individual who uses branding properly will experience a positive difference when it comes to results.

Experience the difference 

When building client loyalty one of the cornerstones is to provide a rewarding experience, from the first phone call, first use of the website or first meeting onwards. The more positive the introductory experience, the easier it is to instil a preference for buying your products. This will then build the value of your brand.

The next step is to leverage the results to go deeper into the market and extend your market share. With the goodwill and favourable reviews you generate with those first, positive branding experiences, you should be able to generate more forward (and upward) momentum.

Most successful companies have a brand that is recognised and respected (at the very least within its own sector), has a positive image and possesses a worth that is perceived to be higher than the other businesses in its market.  For example, when it comes to ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s provides an enviable customer experience and has scooped a very strong position for itself in the ice cream market. They can charge more than rivals because the perception is they are the best in what they do.

Is Ben & Jerry ice cream the best? Or is the finest ice cream among the exotic gelatos highlighted in Conde Nast’s upmarket travel magazine Traveller*? Or is it the family-recipe ice cream from your local café? Does anyone really know? From my twenty-plus years as a brand director/consultant in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester, I can safely say there’s a lot of subjectivity involved … and that’s why building your own brand is so important: when faced with a multiple choice, customers regularly and willingly pay extra for the brand they’re familiar with, or at least have heard of.

One easy way to build your brand status, personality and equity is to communicate the passion of the business on marketing materials such as your web site, logo, packaging and business cards. Another tried and trusted technique is to develop a personal story as to the roots of how your business started, and that can work well for you too: you start connecting with emotional touchpoints as well as rational ones.

Check the consistency

It’s important to develop brand consistency as it helps to engage clients, build trust and ultimately increases awareness, sales and profits. Every time a customer or potential customer sees your brand, they should see the same colours, typography and logo. For example, did you ever see a bar of Cadbury’s chocolate that’s not in that distinctive purple? It’s so much part of the Cadbury brand DNA they tried to trademark it: as Intellectual Property professionals Barker Brettel point out, “Obtaining a registration for a colour can give a huge competitive advantage, as shown by Cadbury fighting for so long (ten years) to protect the colour purple**.”

When your brand is consistently represented, you remind customers of every time they’ve seen it before and you build that priceless feeling of trust. Don’t be content with building a good business: build a good brand and great business will follow.



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“To see ourselves as others see us.” – Robert Burns.

You can maximise the strengths of your business, uncover unsuspected opportunities, eliminate weaknesses, increase efficiency and generate more business – all from taking an objective view of your company. Expertly derived information can be immensely valuable.

Scotland’s national poet was a highly observant man, sensitive to all that was going on around him. He understood that how you view yourself is seldom how others see you and judge you.

Now, be honest: wouldn’t you love to really, really know what your customers and potential customers think of your company, and how they see your services and products?

Such insights are notoriously difficult to gain, but they are definitely worth having:

  • Constructive self-criticism in business can be a tricky skill to master and maintain. An outsider’s view often focuses concentration and allows faster progress.
  • 360o awareness of the reality of the situation is always valuable, but often it requires an outside opinion to clearly evaluate all the issues.
  • New ways forward can be highly rewarding. How do you find them, quickly and accurately? What will be the catalyst for action? Could a fresh mind accelerate the drive forward?

Not many companies fully comprehend where they stand in the market and in people’s minds. Those companies include some of the biggest multi-nationals ever built – you know the usual suspects, the Coca-Colas, Apples and Googles of this world. (Ask yourself why you know who they are and what they look like, and why millions of people think well of them.)

Those businesses succeeded and go on succeeding because they not only provide exceptional products, but also because they manage their brands brilliantly in pursuit of the right kind of awareness, inside the company as well as out-facing.

What helps distinguish successful businesses is their willingness to go the extra mile or more to discover what customers, suppliers, investors and employees want; then they use the findings to sustain their position and improve it.

Successful businesses regularly invest in information-finding techniques such as brand audits.

The purpose of a brand audit is to ascertain how your business and brand are performing. It delivers value and benefits by enabling you to:

    • Assess how well the brand is delivering against the company’s objectives
    • Diagnose trouble spots
    • Discover the strengths and weaknesses of your business
    • Determine the positioning of your business and to plan corrective strategies
    • Get up to speed with the perceptions (positive or negative) about your business
    • Provide direction for your business and brand into the future

Successful businesses believe in the power of knowledge. Shouldn’t you? You don’t need to be a vast corporation to make your brand work harder for you: the principles apply on almost any scale, as a professional brand consultant can prove.

Think what you could do with reliable, objective knowledge on your business and your brand. Imagine you had the power to see yourself as others see you – oh, if Rabbie Burns could only return as a Brand Director!

If you’d like to make your brand work harder for you, then please give us a call or drop us an email. Tel: 0844 880 4281, email:

Vincent Bissette is Managing Director of Darwin Brand Consultants, a Glasgow-based brand and marketing agency with clients in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester.

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Why Branding is more effective as a sales generator than telemarketing

Establishing a trusted and distinctive brand is a far better way to reach potential customers, as well as retaining the ones you already have, than simply paying a tele-marketing firm to ring around numerous ‘cold prospects’.

Branding isn’t about achieving one-off quick sales but it focuses on winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of your prospective customers so that they keep coming back for more. We encourage all our clients across Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester to make sure a long-term branding and marketing strategy is adopted and implemented.

What is a strong brand?

A strong brand is ensuring that your company manages to elicit certain favourable emotional responses from your clients or customers. It also makes them feel a part of your company in some way by establishing a ‘connection’ with them.

Your customer will see your logo, website and all other customer facing communications as visually appealing and instantly recognisable. A good example is the sports brand Nike which is seen as a trusted company producing quality sporting footwear and garments which people want to be seen in and associated with. There is credibility in wearing Nike gear while the logo itself needs no explanation – most people are familiar with the clever Nike tick (a sign of approval).

Why does branding work?

Well, in addition to the reasons above, a client who receives a good service and feels as if they’ve been appreciated by your company is going to think favourably about you.

This means they’ll hopefully return and purchase more goods or services in the future (customer loyalty). At the same time they’ll probably do some word-of-mouth advertising for you i.e. they’ll tell their friends/family/colleagues about that great service you gave them – putting you ahead of your competitors when those same friends and family need a little of what you sell/produce themselves at a later stage.

The basics of branding

There are a few basics that you need to get right and, as branding and marketing consultants, we challenge are clients to consider a couple of key essentials:

1. Get your name right

Does the name of your company instantly let people know what you’re selling or offering as a service? This is especially important if you want to be found on the web these days with the emphasis on SEO where keywords (i.e. words related to your business) are used by search engines such as Google, Bing and Firefox to reveal a list of possible solutions to the person searching for say, a Fit Out Contractor in Glasgow (this gives the name of the company ‘Barbour’ and tells what they provide ‘fit outs’).

2. Identify and know your customers

Do you feel you could connect with your customers, that you understand them and their concerns and, actually, you’re just like them? Then tell them this – do it via your website, blog, packaging, even the products themselves, these are all great advertising mediums.

So what do you believe? Would a long-term persuasive and local campaign aimed at customer loyalty work better than a one-off cold call for your business?

If you’d like to make your brand work harder for you, then please give us a call or drop us an email. tel: Tel: 0844 880 4281, email:

Vincent Bissette is Managing Director of Darwin Brand Consultants, a Glasgow-based brand and marketing agency with clients in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester


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Is Your Business Getting The Brand Recognition It Deserves?

Having a strong brand identity is at the foundation of getting recognised in any competitive marketplace. No amount of marketing, price-slashing or merchandising will result in consistent results without building a strong brand identity for your business.

As branding and marketing consultants we recognise the need for businesses to have a clear and well defined identity otherwise they will get lost in the crowd and never really achieve what they may hope for.

Impact of the digital revolution

The digital revolution has provided businesses with some excellent opportunities to get much wider exposure to communicate with their customers and prospects. So no matter if you are based in Glasgow, Edinburgh or Manchester the bar has been raised significantly as there are many more businesses you find yourself competing with. Consumers are being targeted by your competition from the next town or city, and if you cannot be seen and heard above the roar of the marketplace then you’ll lose the game.

Without walking their marketing talk, businesses can be ‘found out’ and labelled as being inauthentic.

Businesses who have taken the time to go through the process of defining their brand, are in a stronger position to establish themselves well in the marketplace.  Some of my favourite examples are  Amazon, M&S, John Lewis and IKEA, who are all immediately recognisable and we are all aware of the type of products that they supply.

Brand clarity is essential

It’s not just down to having a large marketing budget either. It’s about gaining clarity about what the business is and what it isn’t. Once that has been determined, then it needs to be instilled in every area of your business – from the way that you greet customers, how you deliver a service, to the method through which you send your mail order items and the packaging that you use. Even the paper that you use on your compliment slips will need to be in line with your branding.

Powerful marketing and brand techniques

The most powerful method of marketing is word of mouth. If a customer enjoys the experience of buying from you then you would expect them to return again. If you do something special for them, they will tell others and your reputation will go before you. Great customer service is a big part of that. Some business experts take this a step further and recommend establishing a referral method of marketing.

Attending trade shows can often help a business immensely. Trade shows are not just somewhere to find new customers but it can also provide an excellent opportunity to network with new contacts who can help you to grow your business and provide further exposure for your brand. Even though it can mean that you need to spend money to attend, it is generally well worth it just as long as you prepare well for it.

Building relationships with your local media is another way to raise awareness about your company. Issue interesting press releases, offer to write a weekly column on your area of speciality or host special educational events that can be covered by local media. You’ll meet new customers and you’ll also get the press coverage that will boost your reputation and your recognition.

So make sure your brand is getting the attention it deserves. There are many ways that you can help your business to be recognised by your market and the media. It just takes a little creativity and some tenacity.

If you’d like to make your brand work harder for you, then please give us a call or drop us an email. tel: Tel: 0844 880 4281, email:

Vincent Bissette is Managing Director of Darwin Brand Consultants, a Glasgow-based brand and marketing agency with clients in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester.

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Do Brands Matter for SMEs?

This is a question I am asked time and time again from many of my SME clients. The short answer is yes, without a doubt. Only one company can be the cheapest, the others have to use branding. The stronger the brand, the greater the profit margin. The best brand identities have business acumen as well as aesthetic value. The stronger the brand, the more people listen.

Master Chef’s are fond of saying, “We eat with our eyes first”.

Professional brand identity

The saying, “Never judge a book by its cover” has been around forever, but the fact remains that the majority of people continue to judge things based on perception and appearance. Finding a company that has the right look and feel to it, whether conscious or subconscious, can often be the most important criteria for people when making purchase decisions. A professional looking brand identity will add credibility and trust wherever it is seen.

As branding and marketing consultants we have revitalised many unprofessional brand identities in order to portray  a company as “trustworthy” ensuring  the potential customer has confidence in that brand. SMEs need to understand that if your identity appears cheap and inexperienced, that is exactly how you will be perceived.

Creating a positive perception

Our SME clients across Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester are consistently reminded of a key fact:

The purpose of a brand identity is to create a positive perception of your company that’s recognisable and consistent across all marketing channels.

The bottom line is that a brand identity used consistently across all marketing materials can actually make a huge difference to a SME or any size of company, by increasing awareness, sales, profits and market share.

If you’d like to make your brand work harder for you, then please give us a call or drop us an email. tel: Tel: 0844 880 4281, email:

Vincent Bissette is Managing Director of Darwin Brand Consultants, a Glasgow-based brand and marketing agency with clients in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester.

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Evolve Your Business Or It Will Die

Every business and brand has to respond to change, especially in these turbulent times. The great scientist Charles Darwin once said:

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

By species, we are assuming that he was referring to businesses as well as brands.

Creating an adaptable brand

Success and dominance yesterday does not guarantee success and dominance tomorrow. You can’t live in the past or turn back the clock.  Technology, taste, the environment and the economy are all volatile. Which means your business has to adapt and so does your brand. When the rate of change out with your business exceeds the rate of change within it, then as the song goes, “There may be trouble ahead”.

As branding and marketing consultants, we explain to our clients that it’s your brand that communicates the changes you have made, how you have adapted and better serve your customers. Each and every day you face the simple and stark choice: evolve or die.

Let your brand adapt to changes

So how do you communicate these changes? Here are some tips that you can put to work for you:

Resistance – something that you may not expect to have to deal with but unfortunately comes along with every change. People aren’t trying to be difficult, they just naturally want things how they were before but the trouble is that is not what will take your business forward.  You’ll need the help of employees and sometimes other clients to help you to convince others. Get your employees on board by making them feel involved in the process. Focus them on the benefits.

To help you to communicate the change – create an ‘elevator pitch’ for it. You may want a compelling story at the centre that will help to motivate people for action. Be sure to highlight the benefits of the change from the perspective of the listeners and add a call to action. Deliver your pitch across a variety of channels.

The easiest way to get people to accept change will be to ensure that they understand what’s going on. They should know why they are benefiting and what they need to do. Craft this information into many different channels, including email, newsletter, your website and even in your business premises.

Change is inevitable for every business in every city and in every town. If you are in Glasgow, Edinburgh or even Manchester if you aren’t going forward then you are going backwards. Be sure that you communicate that change through your brand communications and you will be able to keep current customers on board and pick up new ones.

Where’s the chameleon in your business?

If you’d like to make your brand work harder for you, then please give us a call or drop us an email. tel: Tel: 0844 880 4281, email:

Vincent Bissette is Managing Director of Darwin Brand Consultants, a Glasgow-based brand and marketing agency with clients in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester

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Build a Better Image, Build Better Business

The image that you project of your business packs a lot of power. So much power it could be said that it controls your future. In our increasingly image-conscious, visually aware world it’s never been more important to communicate the right image, personality, tone and position in every aspect of your branding strategy.

Your brand image may appear as thin as a pixel, as disposable as a paper cup, as fleeting as a few seconds on a radio station, and as intangible as an idea in someone’s head, but it has the power to affect the way customers, colleagues and suppliers perceive you.

Think of your image as the person at your office front door. Do people meet the:
a) Welcoming, efficient receptionist
b) Smiling commissionaire in top hat and tails
c) Pre-occupied Head Waiter doing ten things at once
d) Chummy janitor with bunch of leys
e) Hard-core “security” bouncer with bunch of fives

Each of these has his or her place, but which one best reflects and sells your service or product? Do you think your customers, colleagues and suppliers are being attracted to or repelled by your corporate brand? Without being personal, have you taken a good look at yourself recently?

Stay current with your business
It’s easy to lose touch with the image that you’re portraying. As a freelance brand director I know from experience that many a busy business person simply may not be able to clearly see what potential customers, potential employees and the general public can see. Are you projecting the most positive image so that people notice you and pay attention to what you’re offering?

If you haven’t been through your marketing material recently, here’s some pointers on where you can start:

1. Consider where you want your business to go. Where are you heading with products, services, finance and positioning? Do your touch-points reflect the direction that you want to head in? They need to complement your evolution and movement towards your goals.

2. Consider all your touch-points – not just the customer-facing ones. You need to communicate to employees and suppliers alike what your plans are. There could be passion out there waiting to help you, but you won’t connect if the right communication isn’t there.

3. Run a customer survey asking for feedback on the image that you’re projecting. A survey is one of the most effective ways of understanding your image. You may also want to ask some people who are new to your business, or better still complete outsiders to look at your logo, website and marketing collateral and give you some feedback.

When your image is a true reflection of all that you offer and stand for, then customers will come to trust your business. Trust is one of the biggest factors when it comes to a customer wanting to spend and actually opening the wallet. Trust is essential for the longer term too as it’s the basis for good, productive relationships.

Communicating your brand isn’t something to do once a year or even when you have a new product or service to launch. It’s something that needs to occur at every touch-point with all stakeholders all the time. It’s what constitutes the perception of your business. And perception is reality, as I have written about here > (link to blog k? Perception is Reality/Eye of The Tiger – is this possible?)

The good news is I’m not the only person or even the first person to think the same:

“O, would some Power the giftie gie us,
To see oursels as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us.” – Robert Burns

“A jest’s prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hears it, never in the tongue
Of him that makes it.” – William Shakespeare

All I’m saying is – while drawing on over twenty eight years’ experience as a freelance Brand Director in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester – look after your brand image: it’s valuable. Every so often take time out for a review of your brand so you can be sure that you’re reflecting the image that will take your business into a more profitable future. No matter how you look at it.

Brand image is a powerful tool that is often underused and misunderstood. Vincent Bissette of Brand Agency Darwin takes you deeper.

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If Everybody Looked the Same

Do you remember the song ‘If Everybody Looked the Same’ by Groove Armada? Good tune. It surfaced on my iphone in the car this morning and got me thinking.

When I meet prospective clients for the first time I always ask them why they ended up with the brand identity they now have: their website, advertisements, brochures, logo, the colours they use, their uniforms and so on. I am often given the same answer. “We did it because that’s what our competitors are doing”.

That’s all good and well if you want to blend in. As branding expert William Beachy remarked, “…if you have a lame, knock-off product or service, it might be best to blend in – look like the leading competitor.”

Given the current economic fragilities, however, the need to stand out from your competitors and appear as appealing as possible to your customers is more vital than ever. (Mr. Beachy completed the quote above by saying, “But if you have an amazing product or service, you want to stand out, be different …”)

Until the economic crunch came along, me-too branding by and large could escape censure, even scrutiny, because a strong economy meant there was revenue enough to go around without anyone trying too hard. The words cosy, complacent and lazy come to mind. Then suddenly money was tighter than two coats of paint and companies had to slash fees or start pitching (usually both) just to stay in a relationship with customers, or even simply stay in business. It was no longer adequate to have branding modelled on a rival’s, and playing safe wasn’t safe: it was dangerous. (Okay, as a brand consultant in Glasgow, Manchester and Edinburgh for twenty-odd years, I’ve been arguing this case relentlessly, but it is now more valid and relevant than ever.)

The ironic thing is, when austerity, prudence and small-c conservatism became necessary, CEOs, CFOs and other top decision makers realised they needed to give customers distinctive, genuine reasons to believe in their products and services: they needed to step outside the comfort zone and put a sharper edge on their branding. Their expertise had to be seen as substantially different from the rest and accepted as better. It was time to say hello to unique corporate branding that creates goodwill strong enough to help a business not just survive but also prosper.

More than ever, the marketplace is an intensely competitive arena where companies struggle, strive and connive to win your customers’ hearts and minds, (not to mention their wallets). To create an advantage and make it stick, companies should project the things that make them different, rather than reflect the comfortable conventions of their sector. Not for no reason is one of the golden rules of branding, ‘Differentiate or Die’.

It is possible to create your own marketing advantage by branding thoroughly. Your campaign has to clearly communicate your key messages, values, beliefs and what makes you different.  A good identity should unashamedly and immediately help you stand out from the crowd. Today, why not appoint yourself corporate brand agent, and ask, “Is my business relying on the same-old, same-old messages as our rivals?” Be honest, especially about well-worn phrases such as, “attention to detail”, “integrity”, “customised solutions” … you know the ones. As for “quality”, well, what does that mean? Everything has a quality of some kind. High quality is what most people want to buy into, and you should be conveying that in every aspect of your branding and marketing strategy.

Another trap to watch out for is constantly telling everyone how client-centric your business is, with threadbare phrases such as, “client focused”. If a customer thought for an instant that your company wasn’t focused on them, they wouldn’t sign you up in the first place.

Okay, I exaggerate, but only slightly – you do have to use certain key words and phrases to provide some reassurance, but be sparing with them and try not to use them as fundamental building blocks for your brand. You’ll have to find or conjure up your own differences – how about a colour, like T-Mobile’s vivid pink, or Compare the Market’s meerkats (the whole campaign hinges on a pun, for goodness sake) – and then promote them in memorable, appropriate, creative ways, perhaps taking advantage of the proliferation of new media such as Twitter, Instagram and Google Display Network. When you think about it, there are more ways to showcase your company differences than ever before. This could be your golden age.

Like my friends at Groove Armada sing, “If everybody looked the same, we’d get tired of looking at each other.” Embrace your uniqueness today. It makes you stand out.

For more information, contact Vincent Bissette at;

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