Power of Branding: Part 3

Case studies

Clean break
How domestic cleaning manufacturers Challs reinvented its brand

Ipswich-based Challs International was good at launching cleaning products, but not so good at getting them noticed.

With the help of a design team, a confusing range of products was dramatically streamlined, repositioned, rebranded, repackaged and a powerful sales presentation created.

Sales increased by 35% and Challs is now listed in most of the UK’s major supermarkets and is in negotiations to take the brand to Europe.
Read the full story online in our case study

Branching out
Rebranding to expand a family-run fruit farm

Bank End Farm was a thriving, family-run fruit farm in Finningley, outside Doncaster. But farmer David McCallum wanted to take the business on a stage, build a brand and sell his products to a much wider market.

A design expert appointed by the Designing Demand programme helped them write a brief for a couple of local design agencies then choose Sheffield-based Vivid Creative to work with on a brand identity project.

‘It has been a very good experience,’ says farm manager David McCallum. ‘It has really taken our business up a level and given us a much more professional image.’

Read the full story online in our case study

Brand Management Techniques

In this chapter we will outline:
— Ways to communicate, manage and develop your brand identity
— Examples from the business world

Getting your message across

Once your encompassing brand ‘promise’ is in place, you need to consider how you will communicate it and then how you will manage and develop it over time. Here are a few techniques and issues that are worth considering:

An established technique in branding a business is to tell its story through communication elements such as corporate identity, packaging, stationery, marketing materials and so on. This can be quite low key, but it paints a picture of the provenance of the company and its products.

Sheffield butcher John Crawshaw, for example, hand-picks the meat sold in his three shops, whilst most of his competitors have their meat delivered in vacuum packs from an abattoir.

The credibility of your brand’s offer must also be solid. For example, a Yorkshire drainage company called Naylor launched a range of lifetime-guaranteed flower pots, but the Naylor brand was inappropriate to market this range because it was associated too directly with the drainage side of the business.

So the company set up a new brand called Yorkshire Flowerpots, with its own tone of voice, personality and visual identity so that it could sell the products with greater credibility.

Construction company Hilti provides an example of differentiation in a sector. Whilst most other construction companies use technical images of buildings and products in their communications, Hilti emphasised its relationship with the people involved in construction, showing black and white photographs of workers using Hilti tools, which are highlighted in the company’s corporate red.

Engaging with customers
Part and parcel of creating differentiation is engaging with your customers or users. If you stand out of the crowd for positive reasons and your tone of voice and communications are credible customers will look at what you’ve got to say.

When Orange launched in the mobile phone market in 1994, its identity, language and offer were very distinctive from its established rivals. It presented an optimistic vision of the future based on technology, but from a human rather than technical point of view. Its logo and name were abstract, creating stand out against BT Cellnet, T-Mobile and Vodafone, and its services were organised into simple talk plan packages.

For over a decade, this approach has remained more or less unchanged. For instance, the 2008 Orange campaign revolved around the slogan ‘I am who I am because of everyone’. Adverts featured a series of individuals (including recognised entrepreneurs, athletes and writers) listing the people that have most influenced the course of their lives.

By appealing to everyone’s sense of individualism and focusing on the value of human interaction and communication rather than competitive price plans or the latest technology, Orange are able to extol the benefits of their service without ever having to mention mobile telephones.

Focusing your product portfolio
If you have a number of different products or services it may help to consider how you can streamline or organise them to make the offer easy for consumers to understand. Sometimes, the logic of internal company structures can dictate how a product offer is organised, but this does not necessarily make sense to an external customer. So think carefully about the best way to present what you do, even if it means setting things up differently from your internal organisation.

Rationalisation of products or services might also allow you to focus your investments more efficiently. After working through the Design Council’s Designing Demand programme, household cleaning product manufacturer Challs did exactly this by shifting the focus to four key products, rather than the 92 it had previously been promoting.

Case study
To find out more about how branding helped Challs make its products stand out on the shelf, read our case study online.

Multiple brands and brand ‘stretch’
If your company operates in more than one sector you will have to consider how you present the business in each area. One approach, as illustrated by Virgin, EasyGroup and Tesco, is to have a single brand identity which is applied to sub-brands for the areas you operate in. So we have Virgin Money and Virgin Atlantic, Easy Pizza and Easy Cruise, Tesco Entertainment and Tesco Finance and so on.

Just how far you can ‘stretch’ your primary brand in this way depends on the core ideas, values and associations you have to start with. In some cases it may actually be more effective to develop a completely distinct brand for the different sectors you want to operate it, rather than stretch your existing brand to meet new markets. As mentioned above, for Naylor’s flower pot business it made more sense to set up a dedicated brand called Yorkshire Flowerpots than to associate it with the existing Naylor drainage business.

There have been some notable and high-profile failures when it comes to brand stretch. A natural cleaning vinegar launched by Heinz bombed as a product because people associate Heinz with food, not cleaning. Harley Davidson (over-)extended its range to include perfume. This failed because it was perceived as being at odds with the Harley Davidson brand values of masculinity and strength.

Endorsed brands
A slightly more sophisticated possibility is to set up ‘endorsed’ brands. This is where you create a new brand in its own right but allow the ‘parent’ brand of your main company to feature as an endorsement of the new brand. Playstation, for example, is a powerful brand in its own right, but it has always been endorsed as Sony Playstation, leveraging the reputation of Sony Corporation.

Reinvigorating your brand
Whatever sector your work in, keeping your communications fresh is essential. Using designers to help reassess your designs, language or identity every few years should be seen as an ongoing investment in your company rather than a costly extra.

All successful companies revisit their communications periodically, even the world’s most recognisable brands. But reinvigorating your brand doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start from the very beginning, reconsidering your big idea or vision and so on.

Take Coca-Cola for instance. In 2007 they commissioned design agency Turner Duckworth to produce a range of new packaging designs that would breathe new life into the cornerstones of Coke’s visual identity; the classic logo, the contour bottle and the use of red and white.

If you’re happy with your company’s big idea, vision and personality, these things can remain the foundations of what you’re doing – but the implementation of your brand should be refreshed to keep things on track and ensure it remains relevant to your target audience.