Innovation and enterprise blog

14 August 2013

Innovating for Growth Branding Workshop - Maximising Your Brand

ABA_logoLast week I attended an Innovating for Growth (I4G) project workshop on Maximising Your Brand. It was presented by Alistair Bullen and Rory Muldoon from ABA | The Business Brand Agency, in a very chatty and informal style.

The idea was to introduce some of the key elements of branding, and to indicate how they will be able to help companies on the I4G program in one to one meetings.

After introducing ourselves and delivering our thirty second elevator pitch, Alistair and Rory  explained the difference between a corporate identity and building a brand.

They used the analogy of a car to explain the role of branding. Until you lift the bonnet you can’t fix the car, and until you know what the other cars are on the road are, you can’t start the race. Also you need to be clear on what kind of car you want to be.

The first stage for ABA is to get under the skin of the company - not straight into ‘fixing the logo’.

They asked us all to write down our ethos, and our competitors. This is what I put for the Business & IP Centre.

Ethos - To use our collection of business information to help start-ups and small companies

Competitors - Other libraries with business information (City Business Library), London Enterprise Agencies, University business support services.

Then they introduced the concept of how each companies Raw Ingredients feed into the Blend of Positioning, Personality and Brand architecture) which helps to define the Brand Essence.

Without working out what your Brand Essence is, you can’t progress successfully.

There are four vectors of your brand:

  1. Products and services - How people feel about the things you produce
  2. Environment - The way people feel when they enter your office
  3. Behaviour - The way that you answer the telephone
  4. Communication - How you speak to your audience




You should find out what your customers think about your service by asking them using a straw poll using Survey Monkey etc, but don’t be defensive about the results.

We then spent  some time reviewing a set of brand personalities to see which two or three most closely matched our brand essence. I chose Sage and Explorer for the Business & IP Centre.

Next we watched an interesting TED talk from Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire action. He said great brands start with the Why, not the What. For example Apple aim to make products that challenge the status quo, they believe in thinking differently. Because of this they make great products.

You should always start with Why you exist, then follow with How you operate and then What you produce.

The why is always much more compelling than the what, so make sure you use it in all your brand communications.

We then looked at models of brand architecture:

  • Monolithic - a single name that is master on all products or services in a range - products are identified by alpha or numeric signifiers - e.g. BMW
  • Endorsed - individual brands supported by a corporate master - working in tandem e.g. Kellogg’s Cornflakes
  • Branded - product name is king e.g. Persil from Unilever

Alistair and Rory recommended a book called Fascinate - Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead.

Why are you captivated by some people but not by others? Why do you recall some brands yet forget the rest? In a distracted, overcrowded world, how do certain leaders, friends, and family members convince you to change your behavior? Fascination: the most powerful way to influence decision making. It’s more persuasive than marketing, advertising, or any other form of communication. And it all starts with seven universal triggers: Passion, Mystique, Prestige, Power, Rebellion, Alarm, and Trust.

TEDxAtlanta - Sally Hogshead - How to Fascinate


Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders by Adam Morgan.

I found the workshop challenging, but also engaging and fun, and I could hear the attendees animated discussions about their brand values as they left the session.

If you want to apply for £10,000 worth of bespoke advice and support for your business, have a look at our Innovating for Growth programme and see if you qualify. 

ERDF_logoInnovating for Growth is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. 




Neil Infield on behalf of the Business & IP Centre


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