Are you an enlightened leader when it comes to brand strategy and identity?

James Sterling

James has more than 20 years' experience in the branding and design industry in the UK and Australia. At Designworks James has a passionate focus on the translation of brand strategy into the brand experience seamlessly across all touch points. And believes that simplicity, originality and joined up thinking is a winning combination for clients. As Creative Director James has lead projects for Virgin Group, Hilton, Royal Mail, BBC, Bank of Melbourne, South 32, Transurban, Australia Post and Officeworks.


Last year I was lucky enough to help develop a new resources company brand, new from the ground up. Let's just say it doesn't happen every day. I was lucky, not because I was helping create a new multi-billion dollar organisation, but because I got to work with an enlightened CEO and his exec team.

Why enlightened? Because as modern leaders in an increasingly changing world, they understood the importance of taking advantage of (and trusting in) the entire brand development process from start to finish.

The leadership team grasped the opportunity to use the strategic branding process to help set the agenda for the new organisation. This included when to engage internal and external stakeholders, when to listen, when to act on advice and when to ignore it and trust their gut instinct.

They knew they weren’t just creating a new name and logo, they were setting the very direction in which they wanted to take the organisation. Furthermore, by leveraging the process, they had a tool to navigate with. A tool they could use to guide future decisions, to unite and influence their team, a way to engage, a statement of intent to the market and an opportunity to show the world how remarkable they want to be.

There are many CEOs and exec teams who misunderstand what their brand and the creation of it is; they think it's about a logo or a vanity exercise, or the ‘thing’ you put on your business card or at the end of an email. They pay their company’s brand identity, and the process of creating it, scant regard and in doing so, I believe, fail to capitalise on a huge opportunity.

Get it wrong and the cost can be great, both in terms of confusion in the marketplace and internally about the direction of the business. You can have the greatest business plan in the world but if your brand isn’t aligned and you’re not using it as a tool to deliver that strategy, you may as well be talking to yourself.

So how do you go about turning the creation of a new brand into something that penetrates the whole organisation? What are the rules or principles to rebranding enlightenment?

Leverage the process

Understand that the path you take is as important as the end result. Don't rush to a conclusion about your organisation before you've asked some serious questions about where you've been and where you're going. Appreciate that the process of rebranding is one of the few opportunities you have to engage the organisation to assert or reassert your agenda to all major stakeholders.

Look for the truth

At the start of the brand development process, ask your team, stakeholders, customers or clients questions, look for the truth (however painful) and listen. Then use the strategic phase of the process to model the organisation you want to be.

Consider the implications before saying yes

Your brand establishes the promise you make to the market. You have to be able and willing to deliver on that promise, otherwise it becomes window dressing that sets false expectations and ends up disappointing your audience. Think through the implications of a strategic brand direction and ensure your organisation can deliver on it, or is willing to reshape itself so you can. If not, then no matter how compelling the vision, it won’t be the right one for your organisation.

Positive change

Regardless of the circumstances, see the branding process as an opportunity to create positive change throughout the organisation. Do something outstanding and give the team something to unite and rally behind. Aside from the obvious benefit of an engaged workforce pushing in the same direction, a well-run and executed branding process has the opportunity to align all activities and maximise efficiencies across the organisation.It should act as a filter, influencing and streamlining recruitment initiatives, internal change programs, communications and other corporate activities.

Find your story

Understand that the pivot point between the strategic phase and creative stage can make or break the whole project. Place importance on clearly articulating your idea, story and purpose, make it remarkable and above all else easy to understand.

An identity that's right for the strategy

If you've asked the right questions and your strategy and story is crystal clear, then use it to judge the merits of the creative direction you've been presented with, not your personal likes or dislikes. Do what's right for the strategy and the organisation.

Make every interaction count

It is easy to fall into the trap of churning through the deliverables during a rebrand but avoid a cookie-cutter approach at all costs. Treat every customer or stakeholder touch point as a way of communicating your idea.

In times of great change and upheaval, enlightened business leaders of today seize the opportunity that a rebrand presents. They understand how to use the process of creating a brand's strategy and corresponding identity to make their organisation remarkable in every way. And they understand that when done properly it's not a vanity exercise but a powerful business driver.

Tags: marketing strategy, brand strategy

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

State of the CMO 2019

CMO’s State of the CMO is an annual industry research initiative aimed at understanding how ...

More whitepapers

Blog Posts

3 skills you need to drive better collaboration

A study published in The Harvard Business Review found the time spent in collaborative activities at work has increased by over 50 per cent in the past two decades. Larger projects; complicated problems; tighter timeframes: These require bigger teams with specialised skillsets and diverse backgrounds, often dispersed globally.

Jen Jackson

CEO, Everyday Massive

Better the bank you know?

In 2018, only 21 per cent of customers believed that banks in general had their customers best interests at heart and behave ethically. Only 26 per cent believed that banks will keep their promises; views cemented further following the Hayne Financial Services Royal Commission.

Carolyn Pitt

Head of account management, Hulsbosch

What 15 years of emotional intelligence told us about youth media audiences

Taking people on an emotional journey through content is the most critical part of being a publisher. Which is why emotion lies at the heart of VICE Media.

Stephanie Winkler

Head of insights, VICE Asia-Pacific

This journey would identify all your future life aspects!

Maryann Humphrey

Open Colleges: one-to-one journeys is the goal

Read more

It's a pretty good idea. I think this integration is useful. Don't you agree?

Misty Stoll

Officeworks hops on voice interface bandwagon with Google Assistant integration

Read more

ok. so no RCS support? by the way, RCS is a lot bigger than 5G in terms of marketing and monetisation so y'all should be covering it.

DragoCubed

Optus goes for education with 5G network campaign

Read more

Many companies and individual merchants have shifted their major part of marketing to web marketing services Portland as it weighs fewer ...

Radiata Solutions

6 Ways to ramp up Social Media to Your Web Design

Read more

This is a unique experience! Will be interesting to talk to their managers.

Joyce Harris

​How Krispy Kreme revitalised its brand in a saturated market

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in