Brand, by way of Brighton and Paris

Brand. It has equal power to strike fear or joy into the hearts of marketing types.

Joy, because this is the stuff we live for, and fear, because before the project is over it’s likely we’ll end up in a corner somewhere, gently rocking, whispering to ourselves ‘brand is not a logo’. #thestruggleisreal

Think of brand as a destination. Let’s say brand is Paris. In a good brand project, everyone in Paris will know how they got there. In a bad one, you’ll have a bunch of very confused people staring blankly at each other outside the Louvre.

A great brand? People will be able to point at the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysees, enthusiastically tell you about the history of the city, and why everything looks, feels and sounds like it does.

The people waxing lyrical about Notre Dame shouldn’t just be the team; to make the trip worthwhile, we need to bring friends along with us, in our case, our leaders, members and guests.

 Photo by  Andrea Maschio  on  Unsplash

A step in the right direction

And yet…in the world of the start-up, while we know we’ll get to Paris one day, our old friends Time and Money have suggested that we might want a lovely weekend in Brighton instead.

We know that Brighton is definitely closer to Paris than where we are now. Yes, it’s smaller in scale and we know some of our friends aren’t free that weekend, but it’s more cost effective, easier to get to and we’re still going to have fun.

By taking this trip we’re designing a brand MVP. Our goal isn’t Paris, it’s to iterate towards it. We’re starting conversations about brand values, personality, tone and presentation but what happens in Brighton won’t stay in Brighton, we’ll keep talking about it on the way to Paris too.

A stroll along the pier

Local Welcome took a (sadly, metaphorical) trip to Brighton this week, we had a very productive morning by the way of this branding exercise for startups courtesy of Bruno Bergher, VP for Product and Design at Gladly.

With the team spread across three cities, we used a Realtime board for collaboration and started with everyone creating post-its for possible brand attributes. We asked ourselves:

  • What should we feel like?

  • What should we look like?

  • What should we sound like?

  • What should we be like?

It was a great opportunity to think freely, widely and creatively, for example, we ended up with post-its that read ‘comedians getting serious for a moment’ and ‘a comfy couch and a cup of tea’.

Next, we considered each attribute as a team and decided whether it was something we wanted to keep or discard. This was a long process (about an hour) but it provoked great conversation and discussion among us.

Once we had our yes pile, we deleted duplicates and pulled them into categories of Personality, Presentation, Tone and Values. We narrowed it down to four attributes per category through dot voting, et voilà, we had the first half of a MPV brand design brief.

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For our final flourish, we all came up with brand comparisons for Local Welcome using the model more like __________ than _________. So for example a brand that’s more like ASOS than Gucci is affordable, accessible and fun.

After more than two hours on post-its, this was a great opportunity to distill what we had learned from each other into some fun (and useful) phrases.

Here are some of our favourites. Local Welcome is:

  • More like fistbumps than handshakes

  • More like Monzo than Barclays

  • More like Dollar Shave Club than Gillette

  • More like Michelle Obama than Hillary Clinton

Combining the brand comparisons with our brand attributes gave us a succinct one-page branding brief which we can start to refer to when when we’re making decisions about design and communications.

It may only be one-page, but it’s a solid piece of work the team developed together that’s going to be helpful to us moving forwards.

We might still be in Brighton, but we’ve got a great view from the pier and we know that a little further along in our journey, Paris is waiting for us.