A brand is your communication channel

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Putting it simply… that’s what a brand is, its your communication channel. Its how you connect with the outside world.

Often I find that branding, its definition and its purpose, is delivered in a confusing way. There are so many phrases, concepts and jargon associated with the process of creating brands that people, and companies who have the best intentions of creating a solid brand of their own, end up very confused as to what its all about. Thus, its tough to take the first step and make a decision to under-go a brand review because often there is uncertainty about where to start or what it entails. Many get scared off by the prospect.

But I find the above statement pretty much says it all… every interaction, message or design that a business projects outwards is a communication – others get to view, hear or experience that communication – and this, in essence is the brand. Its how you are perceived through what you communicate in every aspect of a business. Its up to each individual company to determine how these communications will be delivered to the outside world.

Its simply putting together an identity system that allows you to express who you are, what you do and what you want your target market to know, with consistency across all utilised marketing channels.

Yes, the structure of creating a brand itself cuts deeper and involves a number of key elements, because a brand that is effective has to have a real understanding of the market that it is targeting, the company that it is representing and the value that its communicating. At the end of the day… its expressing yourself and what you offer over and above everyone else out their vying for the same market share.

One thing is for certain… a clear, concise and relevant brand will definitely elevate a business and its presence in the market.


Its about Building Relationships

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I see and hear it all to often, the misconception that a logo and business card equates to a brand.

Absolutely not… a logo is simply an identification symbol for your business, the visual element that people can identify you by.

Branding put simply… is your communication channel… its every interaction, message, or design that you put out for others to see, hear or experience, and how you are perceived in return.

The purpose being, to create emotional bonds with consumers / clients, creating a connection and forming great and successful relationships. Once this is achieved, you’ve got an advocate, they know what they are going to get each and every time they make contact with your business. They’ll keep coming back.

This is the essence of branding.

In my role as a brand strategist, this is the message i convey to my clients, its an on-going process and you have to continually work at it. Building strong relationships takes time. You have to form trust and an understanding.

Its ironic, to me at least, that this is exactly a process that I am undertaking myself, in looking to grow my business. When i started Watershed Creative, i cast my net far and wide in the expectation that i would catch all these ‘fish’! But it didn’t work, because i was meeting too many people and not really getting to know them, i (we) were skimming across the surface. All that meant was, i was spending a lot of time meeting people who i would never see or meet again.

Instead of building depth in relationships with key individuals, understanding how we could work together to grow each others business… to meet like minded people on the same path to success, doing it with integrity and enthusiasm.

It was a hard lesson learned. The focus then became to connect with people who i had a good ‘gut’ feel about and spent the time to catch up with them regularly, and build great relationship built on trust and understanding. This strategy simply pays off. I have surrounded myself with some very cool people, who generally care and are in my corner.

One such individual is Edward Zia, an awesome marketing mentor, who has helped me immensely over the past couple of years. Cool guy, total enthusiasm and passion for what he does, and what he can do for others. He’s given advice where needed and is always available for a chat.

So, when i saw a blog post (view link here http://ow.ly/wm5bm) on Ed’s website about ‘yours truly’ i was blown away. That Edward would think highly enough of me to take the time to write an article, was certainly appreciated, but additionally it indicated the strength of our working partnership. Ed knows better than most… drive depth in referral partners and the work will come. Check out his blog and you will see and read about a number of people that enjoy the benefits of such relationships.

Thanks Ed for the kind words.


An Iconic Brand

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Paying tribute to the ‘Kombi’ Van – through video

Last year, we said good-bye to Volkswagen’s iconic “hippie van”. It appears that the van would like to bid a fond farewell to us too, as the YouTube channel Volkswagen Brasil has come up with a short film to pay tribute to this iconic vehicle. 

Told from the point of view of the Kombi, this nostalgic film shows how this van was conceived and manufactured. The film also thanks the most loyal fans of the van, who have stuck by it through thick and thin.

The Kombi also “gave” these fans some parting gifts to remember it by—the presents include a sketchpad shaped like the van itself as well as its various auto parts.

Bid this van farewell as you watch the video:

An iconic van, forever linked to an iconic brand. This is a perfect example of what emotional connections we can develop for products, experiences and brands. For most of us, we look towards the kombi van with affection, nostalgia in many cases, and a timeless respect for what is truly an unique piece of engineering. And how fitting that the ‘creatives’ who produced this video understand this all too well, realise that there are still many out there across the globe who love their kombi vans and what they symbolise… and the personal connection that they still hold dear. Otherwise, why even consider making it? To create such a video could only be considered and ‘pulled off’ because of the clear power (and importance) of the brand itself. I mean who wouldn’t know what a VW Kombi Van was?

As this video demonstrates, so many have a story… as i do myself. I can cast my mind back and remember sunny summer days ‘cruising’ with my best mate, as kids, sitting in the back of the ‘bus’ as his parents drove us through the beautiful Coromandel peninsular of New Zealand on route to our annual christmas holiday destination where we would park up and camp and ultimately run a-muck, enjoying a great childhood. Fun times, great friendships and what a vehicle to get us there. It became an association of enjoyment, good times and the childhood experience of open spaces, fresh air and no commitments.

Or, taking off on my big OE (overseas adventure) with friends and all chipping in to buy a ‘used’ VW van, a van eager to take yet another long trip around the circuit of Europe, transporting young and eager lads to see the sights and experiences that are on offer for all to enjoy, across countries and through cities that we’d grown up hearing about. There was something very cool and iconic about doing the trip in a Kombi, perhaps because they are the vehicle of choice back in the day when Aussies and Kiwis started making it an annual pilgrimage and it was important for us to up-keep that tradition, perhaps because they were so multifunctional… you could eat, sleep and certainly ‘party’ in them… whatever the case, they looked cool in any situation. Even in the 90’s and 2000’s forty plus year old vans were still on the road going strong, albeit getting a bit weary and sluggish,  but hanging in there for another year… and another year… and another!

They became a symbolic figure and have an army of brand advocates who simply believe it was the greatest van, if not vehicle, ever made. They are desired and sought after and I’m not sure of anyone who would be unhappy if they had one sitting in the driveway.

End of an era, but what a life.


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