I came to the world of brand building through a journey that has seen me as a designer, a creative director, a marketer and finally a brand builder. It is a journey of many years and different continents. Central to my work is a fundamental belief that people with differing needs are joined and linked to enterprises at the point of emotional and intellectual connection and that brand building is a process of unfolding the brand from that place I call ‘belief ‘ through the elements of product, brand experience and communication. My definition of a brand is promise, delivered and measured, and brands should have a visionary promise, extraordinary delivery and consistent measurement. This is what I help enterprises – for profit and non-profit – build and achieve.
my approach to the world of brand
Brand building is a creative and passionate discipline. I have seen it work with enterprises across the world and from different categories and I have experienced it with students in academic arenas from design schools to Stanford University. My work makes the complex simple because it is anchored by quiet constructs and models that allow brands to be built, refreshed and continually evolved by uniting the Why, What and How of a brand to its ultimate goal, the creation of a deep brand value or ‘space’ which both achieves any financial goal while also impacting society for the better.
This website seeks to present some of the work and the way I work. It is simply an introduction to a meaningful conversation we might have.
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Over the years, and through much experience and practice, I have developed certain brand building models that I use to illustrate how the brand building process, or journey, unfolds. The models are not rigid structures per se but ideas, or filters, for thinking about how to build a brand at various stages of its life. Models help clients both to simplify complexity, rather than make it more complicated, and to stretch thought to the, “ I never thought about that,” or “I never realized that before” moments which are powerful catalysts for growth and change.
The following are a couple of examples of models I have created and used in the core of so much of my work:
- The Brand Building Journey Model connects the why to the what and how of brand building by creating a destination for brand which I call the ‘behavior space’ which essentially is where the greatest brand value lives –the creation of a space in the customer’s world that changes their perception of a category or an idea that impacts their life. This is a looped model as the work of brand building never ends.
- The Four Worlds Brand Model takes what was created some years ago in neuro linguistics into four real requirements for brands to ask and answer of themselves in terms of strategic and tactical planning and resourcing. I suggest in my work that if a company has answers for how it is to Do Right, Do Well, Do Good and Undo then it will avoid being unable to answer the three main questions of being a Resilient Brand, namely, Who are the customers you have to today and who will they be tomorrow?, Who are the customers you have today and who will they be tomorrow?, and What are the competencies you have today and will they be sufficient for tomorrow? Or as I like to say, “There once was a Pan Am Airlines!”
At the very core of my work is what I call Belief Books. Belief Books carry the essential verbal and visual language of a brand. They are created after I have met with a client and, over a relatively short period of time and through questioning and discussion (I sometimes call it litigating), discover the central emotions behind and within the brand. You see I believe that within every enterprise of any kind there are these incredibly powerful beliefs which, when they are understood and processed, create the fundamentals for strategic decision making of every kind – product development, customer experience, marketing, operations, technology requirement, learning and development and HR. My experience is that leaders and management teams can be facilitated – sometimes with input from vendor partners, employee colleagues and customers – to speak to what they ‘feel’ the brand is really all about. My job then is to really listen to what I hear, go away and present back what I have heard them say, but written in what I have come to believe as almost ‘brand poetry’ and ask them what they now ‘feel.’ This is the starting point of the work of brand building. Brand is essentially about how feeling is unfolded through process to create brand meaning and Belief Books, all in an attempt to answer the question, ‘Why?’ The creation of Belief Books is something I originated about fifteen years ago and it is a methodology that I have seen drive enterprises to wonderful and powerful outcomes.
Below are some examples of finished Belief Books that range in their approach to discovering the reason for each respective brand's existence (click the photos to enlarge and scroll between the images):
Pillar to post
The language of a belief book should be intentionally powerful, emotional and deep. When I came to think of my own business – the business of building brands for others – I developed the concept of No Footprint that speaks to the fact that I should leave no footprint of my own on the brands I have co-created or collaborated on with others. The brands themselves should exist as living and breathing business enterprises – new anthropologies of connection – between companies and customers, employees and a myriad of other stakeholder publics.
Below, without visuals, are my core beliefs which I call No Footprint (click on each paragraph to enlarge and scroll)