March 8, 2013

Conflab: a discussion on branding

Ferris Bueller was right: “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” We all need to take time to stop and catch up, and it was in this train of thought that we established a bi-monthly internal knowledge-sharing session last year.

Affectionately termed ‘Conflab’, these sessions see a rotation of different team members sharing information on the latest news and industry developments from their sector, or looking into new innovations such as augmented reality.

They are lively and informal – conducted with a beer in hand – but with a serious theme: to catch up and spend time together as a team, and to increase our knowledge. We thought it would be nice to let you know about them…

This month’s Conflab was led by our client services director Helen Littlewood and Neil Harrison, our senior creative. The idea for the session was born from recent research by the recruitment firm Michael Page that shows branding has taken the top spot as the marketer’s most important function for 2013. The survey of 500 UK marketing employees sees branding shoot up in value since last year, overtaking online and customer relationship management (CRM).

Branding is considered the top priority by 29 percent of respondents, up 10 percent on the 2012 results. It pushes online/website development and CRM into joint second place with 21 percent each. Social media takes a hit, falling three percent on last year’s results.

This prompted us to ask ourselves the question: what is a brand? From the power of a logo to our perception of our favourite everyday brands, just how do the most powerful brands in the world – such as newly voted ‘number one’ brand, Ferrari – become so recognisable and powerful?

After that we were reminded of some successful recent branding work the agency has completed for the likes of Hamilton, Supreme Pet Foods and Teknomek, and the change in customer perceptions the work inspired.

We concluded the event by asking the team to contribute to our own brand pyramid. A brand pyramid brings together the attributes and characteristics of a brand – its personality, values and essence, and allows us to better understand and communicate the brand’s promise to its target audience.

Helen Littlewood says: “Companies are putting more pressure on their brand to deliver growth. In an economy where budgets are tighter, every element must earn its keep. Over the last few years companies from all backgrounds, sectors and industries have zoned in on the importance of having a strong brand and have either started again from scratch or built on top of what’s already there to ensure maximum value, exposure and awareness of their brand.

“All businesses can benefit from assessing their current position and revisiting their brand proposition. The market is constantly changing and so are our customers’ opinions of us. It’s vital to make sure you’re in touch with how you’re perceived and the emotional value there is attached to your brand. It’s one of the most important, yet difficult, things to gain.”

On that note, we’ll leave you with one last titbit of information about branding. Did you know that ‘branding’ was first adopted to differentiate one person’s cattle from another’s by means of a distinctive symbol burned into the animal’s skin with a hot iron stamp!


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