Recently, we have been working with a well known household brand, let’s call them Client A. They are a thriving business, who have successfully challenged their category with a powerful brand developed by a very talented team. They recognise that they need to evolve their brand in line with their broader offering, alongside changes in the marketplace and have asked us to support them on that journey. Love it.
As with many brands, Client A has been expressing their strength in terms of their functional benefits and our job has been to help them evolve their positioning into one that will more emotionally connect them with their audience. Lovely lovely brief. Thanks Client A!.
A couple of years ago I was working with another brand, let’s call them Client B, who were in the process of transitioning their global brand. We were working with the UK team Glow helping transition the new brand (that was being developed in the US) by helping them bring it life locally and connecting their culture into the change. We would have loved to have got our grubby hands on the proposition work of course, but with an HQ in the US, their global creative agency had been tasked with driving that piece of work.
We have currently been working with Client A for a total of 3 weeks. In that time we have developed some powerful personas to help them get closer to their consumers, developed a revised proposition, began ideation across product, ops, marketing and commercial and are just about to start work on the external consumer proposition.
With Client B, we had started planning the transition, with a detailed staged plan taking them on a mindset shift into the new positioning. We’d been working for a few weeks on this and were nearly ready to press go, when we were told that there was a delay as the US team announced that they needed to start the brand proposition process again. In the end we waited for another nine months to reach a conclusion.
Let me just say that again.. nine months.
I can (and actually have) grown an entire human in that time. It honestly flabbergasted me that it could take that long. It took all my powers of restraint to not get on a plane, fly to Atlanta and find out what on earth they were all up to! Surely, with a big team of specialists who can quickly unpick the right insights, the supposed best planners in the business and a load of clever strategists, it shouldn’t take longer than a few weeks to crack a positioning brief?! Apart from anything they had been working on it for six months already so they must have at least formed an opinion on where it needed to land?!
And apart from this unfathomably slow process, I imagine there was also an eye-wateringly expensive cost mounting up. And the poor UK team were left feeling completely overwhelmed and exhausted by the entire process, wishing they’d never bothered to push for this in the first place despite knowing the brand needed to be made future-proof, more aligned to consumer needs and generally more compelling to survive.
Either way, the more I think about it, the less I can get my head around how it can possibly be that long and complicated a process; it’s not rocket science! All that needs doing is to first become more familiar with the pain of their consumers; the problems they need solving, and then responding with how they are uniquely going to help solve these problems and then define the emotional benefit the consumer will get as a result. Finding an ownable truth that no-one else can claim can take some time, especially in a crowded marketplace, but I reiterate… Nine months????
I’m not saying that transforming a brand should be a quick fix. The bit that comes after the strategy work, I will admit, isn’t so easy. It’s a bit like having a spring clean; once you’ve decluttered and cleaned some of the house, the bit you’ve not yet done suddenly looks horrendous and you realise you’ve got to do every corner of every room. And in the same way, once you start evolving the positioning, the implications are incredibly far-reaching.
As I am always banging on about, the brand informs everything; not just your look and feel and comms, but your product, service, culture and behaviours. A new brand will give you a new lens to look through to help make decisions on everything from how to speak, who to recruit, how to connect with the consumer emotionally, the customer experience, the product strategy, who the partners should be, what the EVP is, what everyone’s focus and motivation should be and it goes on…
And to us, this transformation is where the focus of the time should be spent. I always say up front that a new brand strategy takes up to two years to fully implement. But the actual proposition, the thinking, the strategic bit, really should take no longer than three months tops (and that’s if you’re working with a large cross-functional team who you want to involve and engage with!) and shouldn’t cost the earth.
Another firm belief of ours is that the client has the answer. I imagine the agency team behind Client B were squirreling away in expensive boardrooms (remember them??) trying to find some clever answers out of thin air when actually, the people that had all the answers all work for the brand. At Glow we know it is always the brands that have the answer – our job is to peel back the onion of their thinking, to strip away the jargon and the technical speak, to get them to stop talking about what they do and focus on what they will do for their customers, to nail them to make bold choices and hold their hands through the process. It isn’t easy, but we make it bloody work.
Of course, it’s early days with Client A and we all have lots of questions; is our positioning too bold, can we actually deliver on it? Can we achieve the right balance of happy consumers and revenue growth? Can we get the entire team on board and motivated to deliver what we need them to deliver? I could go on… But ultimately, in only 6 hours face to face with the broader team, they have a new North Star, an evolved decision-making lens for the business that is clear, motivating and exciting. I actually came out of the last workshop describing them as ‘cock-a-hoop’!
My point here is any client who knows they need to evolve their brand, but is living in abject fear of the investment in time and money they are facing, please know that it really doesn’t have to be that painful! In fact, it can be quick, simple and not crackers money, as long as you work with an agency who understands YOU have the answers; that it’s just a matter of following a simple process to pull them out of you, turn it into simple speak, then hold your hand to ensure both a compelling and smooth delivery.