At Rise we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you. 

We spoke with Matt Desmier the Branding Chap who also speaks at conferences and events across the UK and beyond. Here we pick up on a few things; messaging, re-branding and being consistent with your content.

 

RISE: Branding is crucial to the success of a business, it changes the way that customers engage with the company and whether they want to stick around. With this of course comes the task of creating a loyal audience that want to be a part of your brand on an ongoing basis. What brands do you think have got this right and what is the pinching point that made them work so successfully?

 

Matt: The thing with brands — or branding — is that it is a constantly evolving thing. Brands that might be getting it right, right now, may soon get it wrong. Audiences have changed. We’re a fickle bunch. There was a time that once a brand earnt your loyalty, you hung on in there through thick and thin. The same can’t be said anymore. The ones that are getting it right have learnt that it’s a careful balancing act of people and product, promise and purpose, and process and principles.

Globally, right now Nike are leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else. Locally, Jimmy’s Iced Coffee are still killing it.

 

RISE: If a company is looking to ‘re-brand and reinvent itself’ is there any really handy tips or tricks you would suggest before they dive in head first (without giving too much away of course!)?

 

Matt: There’s a process. It’s not rocket science, or even a secret. And it’s not the logo. The logo is the final piece of the puzzle. It’s starts with the product – is it right, is it different, does it work, could it be better? Then look at the people, inside and out, who works there, who buys from you and why? Why do they work there and why do they buy from you? Then you need to think about the purpose, the promise, the processes and the principles…

Your company brand is the point at which the identity you portray, meets the image your audience receives and the reality their experience. You can’t reinvent it, you can only help steer the narrative and to do that you need to know who all the protagonists are.

 

RISE: Messaging is often the tricky bit that companies get really right or really wrong. When you are talking about your company or even you as an individual on your own CV or LinkedIn is there anything in particular that you should keep in mind? How important is consistency with this messaging and is that difficult to keep up?

 

Matt: When it comes to messaging, authenticity and integrity are way more important than consistency. Companies who understand their position, find it easy to be authentic with their messaging. And companies who operate with integrity don’t need to think about consistency because it’s imbued in everything they do.

 

RISE: Outwardly a brand might be bang on, but how do brands make their staff and internal operations live and breathe that brand?

 

Matt: The staff and internal operations ARE the brand. The outward expression of the company brand, the identity, is only half of the story. In fact it’s less than half. A logo is easy. A pithy, well-articulated purpose isn’t too hard to conjure up. But an authentic, well-articulated purpose, delivered with integrity and demonstrated across every experience an audience engages with, is much harder. But should always be the aim.

 

RISE: As an individual looking for a new job what are the tell-tale signs that you would/wouldn’t fit within that particular brand/company that you are going to interview for?

 

Matt: Do your research. We’ve all got a multitude of tools at our disposal, Google, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, friends, family and acquaintances… It’s not that hard to find out whether a businesses’ values meet yours.

 

RISE: Over time we have slowly become a society of wanting to be individual and unique rather than all wanting to buy, wear and show off the same things. Brands have had to adapt to this change in what an individual wants from them; they want to build their own personality rather than just being/wearing the logo. What techniques have brands had to adapt and develop to keep up with this new culture? And do you think that brands have had to relook and assess their companies’ culture and messaging to be able to adopt this new way of appealing to their audiences?

 

Matt: I’m not sure that opening statement is true. The world of luxury doesn’t appear to have suffered too much from societies desire to be seen as individuals. Chloe, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Louboutin, Rolex, Gucci, Ferrari, Porsche… these are still brands people aspire to own and be seen to own. The purpose-driven likes of TOMS and Patagonia have an army of fans who all proudly wear their goods. And with the recent Kaepernick campaign and their support of Serena Williams, Nike have a new legion of obsessives who are keen to be associated with the brand.

That being said, as I said previously, branding is an ever evolving thing. Brands need to be aware that their every move is under scrutiny, that what they do is easily replicable; so it’s super important to have a point of differentiation. That might be why a brand does something. It might be how a brand does something. It’s most likely a mixture of the product, the people, the promise, the purpose, the process and the principles.

 

A huge thank you to Matt for answering all our questions, and should you ever want to connect or chat with him about branding here is the link to his profile!

At Rise we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

 

We asked Justin Cohen, the Commercial Manager of Beales Gourmet at The Italian Villa a little bit events and PR. We wanted to know a little bit about what he thought about it, and how he got into it!

 

 

RISE: PR has made a complete U-turn since the introduction of social media, do you think there is still room for the old methods that we used to use in PR?

 

Justin: I think that conventional PR has been accentuated by the addition of social channels. However, this is a double-edged sword. As a PR professional, your job is to manage the public reputation of your client’s business. If there are now 5-10 more channels available for your client to promote themselves, there are 5-10 sites for your client’s detractors to pan their products or services online. PR’s need to stay sharp and utilise up to date social listening tools to truly stay ahead of the game and maintain their client’s reputation. But it’s not all doom and gloom… PR is, and always has been, about relationships. The Editor of any given publication will still thank you for a good story – they’ll now just be able to share it online as well as in print/radio/tv.

 

RISE: As a business is having someone that takes charge of PR, events and marketing is key to the success and continuous positive change of a company?

 

Justin: It all depends of the allocation of company resources. There is often an argument that having an internal personal take the lead on PR, events and marketing will make for more consistent, cohesive communications. That may well be the case. However, from the opposite side of things, there is also the argument that company directors and employees are often so close to the subject that they’re trying to communicate, they may fail to see other opportunities or fresh angles. A “happy-medium” would be a strong internal coordinator (who genuinely gets “it”) who could liaise with equally strong external expert consultants.

 

RISE: The saying goes, ‘Any PR is good PR’, but is this really true?

 

Justin: I used to think this was true. I’m not so sure anymore. Some brands think that they are untouchable. I’m sure Miramax would argue the contrary now with the cloud over Harvey Weinstein and co…

But then again, look at what Nike have managed to accomplish with the Colin Kaepernick story. Some said it was a foolish move (resulting in customers burning their Nikes online, etc), but in real terms, they’ve capitalised massively on strong public empathy. That was a well-managed situation.

 

RISE: Events nowadays aren’t just about putting on some food and drink, it’s about providing an experience. Is there any tips or tricks you would tell companies that are thinking of hosting their own event?

 

Justin: I agree. People now need a reason to turn up. Gone are the days where a few vol Au vents and some bubbly would be a good enough reason to motivate guests to attend an event. Now it’s far more about the overall experience. For example when we hosted the launch of the Dorset Business Awards last year, we looked at the overall theme of the event, and tied the welcome cocktail and canape selection to that specific theme, which made the event much more memorable.

Another example… we recently launched our FOODIE club which, again, was about the experience. Yes, guests enjoyed eight courses of amazing food. Yes, every course was matched with superb wines and other drinks. Yes, the service was five star. But what guests will remember most of all was the element of theatre surrounding the evening. The al fresco setting in The Italian Garden; the Iberico ham being carved in front of them; the smell of the scallops being barbecued right in front of them; the floating candles on the pond; the expert guest speaker. I could go on. The point is that, when planning any event, you need to think “what is the REASON that I’m giving for my guests to want to turn up?”

RISE: As an individual trying to get into the industry of events and PR, do you have any words of advice? Do you think experience outweighs education in this case?

 

Justin: I studied marketing, but never even touched PR or events really. It was only later in my career, working for Darren Northeast PR, that I honed my PR and media skills. I’d always enjoyed writing (I still do!), so PR became another great outlet for that. I think that getting the right sort of experience will always trump educational qualifications. We always take on a number of work placement students from Bournemouth University’s Event Management programme, because we believe that the right experience will accelerate any classroom learning. Like they say: “Everything works in theory. Even communism.” It’s getting things to work in practice that is the kicker!