Introducing Mayd.

Introducing Mayd

We've changed our name.

By Mandy Hall


The day is finally here. A day most didn’t even know was coming, but one that’s been bubbling behind the scenes for quite some time now. We’ve changed our name. Refined our reason for being. Iris Apfell’d our brand. Chiefs and Indians has officially retired and it is with a happy heart – we bring you Mayd.
Introducing Mayd

 

The past, present and future.

 
The last four years have been an exciting, challenging and transformational period where we moved from offering a remote marketing team model (bringing the Chiefs and the Indians… mic drop), to brand strategy projects. Why the change? Very few clients had established their brand’s foundations, making any short-term marketing plan, well, short lived.  Quite the achilles heel for someone who’d spent most of her corporate life in Brand Marketing roles where the whole was always (I repeat, always) greater than the sum of its parts. Since then, we’ve been developing brand strategies for businesses – from new to old, modest to bold – and we felt it was time to realign our brand, with the brand we’d become.

 

So, what’s with the Mayd up word?

 

  • Like any brand aficionado, I wanted a verb. Let’s face it, every brand aspires to be a Google (I literally Googled it). Ego aside, an action orientated word struck a chord with the very essence of our brand (more on that in a little bit).
  • All good brand names have a plot. A storyline the brand was built upon. A crescendo, climax, or aha moment where a creative idea intercepts a business’s purpose or point of view (also a strategic ploy to improve brand recall). And…
  • Finding an original word that hasn’t been registered is like Donald Trump searching for his missing Georgia votes (seemingly hopeless). 

Here’s the thing, brands aren’t born, they’re mayd. Mayd from the inside of an organisation, out. Powered by insights. Inspired by purpose. United by a common goal. And it all starts with your brand strategy (need I say more).

Our whole philosophy at Mayd is built upon some pretty simple beliefs:

 

  • If you do not proactively build your brand, consider it a sacrificial lamb for the taking. At the end of the day, your brand is whatever your customers believe it to be (real or not). Why would you leave it to chance? Sure, you can’t please everybody, but it’s worth a try, especially those you want most. (If you need more convincing, check out the modest value of some of your favourite household brands here). 
 
  • Your brand strategy is not your branding. Its role is to pave the path, not paint the pavement (and the only awards it should be winning are the ones nominated by your customers).
 
  • A brand strategy can fail before it’s even taken off.  If it’s done in isolation and in vain. For the sake of all Consultants and Brand Managers’ reputations, pleeeeassse collaborate with the people who play a significant role in the implementation of your brand strategy (eh eh all senior leaders).
 
  • Powerhouse brands permeate through their people first. Ever worked in an organisation whose brand infiltrates the culture so deeply it becomes a significant part of your identity? I have, and boy is it powerful (just ask any ex Virgin Blue employee). Loyalty is more common than not. Pay becomes irrelevant. There’s a bond that exists that only those who are a part of it understand. A strong sense of belonging. You work hard because you care. You’re a vocal advocate outside of the office. Half the marketing job is done before you’ve even spent a cent.
 
  • Your brand strategy should not be a set and forget document. It needs to be embedded in the fabric of the organisation. This is also why we developed our Brand Playbook – as a toolkit that can be used day in, day out.
 
  • Words are cheap. Your marketing will only ever be a band-aid solution if your brand strategy isn’t adopted by the whole organisation and consistently implemented across all customer touchpoints (from the sales team to your shop front).
 

Aside from a lairy colour palette and ridiculously good looking logo, what’s new?

 

After going a little loco during Covid we cooked up a new service that sees us take our normally in-person brand strategy projects, online. In our Self Mayd projects we support Brand Managers over the course of 10 weeks to build their confidence and know-how in developing their own brand strategies. We provide a step-by-step framework, real world examples, and tailored advice by accomplished Brand Strategists (like me). The level of support you receive is entirely up to you (on demand), meaning you can get a little, or a lot, throughout the process. This might range from 1:1 coaching and strategy reviews, through to more hands-on consulting such as ideation workshops (where we help you develop a point of difference for your brand), or new product development (to better sit with your new positioning). Reading through the Self Mayd project outline you might think it’s a little generic and done, (or perhaps brave given some of the industry’s most respected alumni do a very similar thing). But, here’s why it’s not.

 

  • Self Mayd is not a course. It’s a working project that turns learning into action.
 
  • It focuses on outcomes, not just theory. The content combines parts of your business, brand and marketing strategy, as in our experience you can’t consider one without the other. So, we do exactly that. We’re not in the business of developing coffee table books.
 
  • Lean on other brilliant minds in our masterminds. After each project milestone, there is a mastermind facilitated by an accomplished Brand Strategist, with up to four other Brand Managers in non-conflicting industries, to nut out individual challenges and enhance overall understanding.
 
  • Join a like-minded community. When you join, you become a part of a like-minded community of Brand Managers. Let’s be honest. We’re a type. Easily identified and passionately united! #allthefeels
 

If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s the need for connection. Self Mayd is designed to boost your acumen and your allies, to promote professional and personal growth.

Well that’s about enough from me for the time being. I’d love to know what you think of the new brand aesthetics. Leave a message and let me know!

Mandy

Brand strategy: what it is (what it is not) and our pragmatic six-step guide to creating one.

What is brand strategy

Brand Strategy: what it is, what it is not, and our pragmatic 6 step guide to developing one.

By Mandy Hall.

I know what you’re thinking (if you’ve even made it this far into my article): how many times does a brand specialist write a blog to clarify what a brand is? Your brand is not your logo. We get it. Not even your colour palette. Preaching to the converted. Nor is it a social media campaign. Enough.  Trust me, I feel the exact same way. But here I am. Again. But I assure you that this blog is somewhat different. I’m not going to hark on about brand, or even branding (much). Today I’m going to address the mother of both – brand strategy. The most unappreciated, undervalued third child in the family (who plays a pretty significant role in the success or failure of its emotionally charged, fun loving siblings).

So here’s what a brand strategy is, and what it is not.  

A brand strategy IS:

  • An internal guiding document that provides a clear, actionable (I repeat, actionable) and measurable plan to achieve a future desired position for your brand.
  • It defines who you are, why you matter, who you matter to, and why you’re better than the alternatives (all of which comes from knowing your customer, capabilities and marketplace inside out).
  • It NEVER succeeds without the full support of the leader of your ship (whether that’s yourself or another), and his/her merry men and women. And requires buy-in across the entire organisation. That’s right. Every. Single. Person.
  • It underpins the approach you take to your branding which is the external expression of your strategy that you use to appeal to, and create fruitful relationships with your customers.

A brand strategy is NOT:

  • Graphic design: your logo, colour palette nor look and feel.
  • A marketing tactic like social media. LinkedIn. Or even PR. (These are the things we use to bring your brand strategy to life).
  • A 50-page beautifully constructed document full of conflicting adjectives and feelings that’s difficult to apply in the real-world, or that never gets used.

Okay, so you now understand what a brand strategy is, why all the hype?

Bear with me, because i’m about to get technical for a little bit, but I assure you it’s for good reason. According to Kantar Millward Brown a global research agency (KMB), there are three critical components to driving brand equity (which is the holy grail of business effort) – salience, meaningfulness and difference. Before I explain what each mean, let’s look at KMB’s definition of brand equity:

 

Brand equity is a commercial asset, the value of which is determined by the ability of the brand associations to predispose people to choose the brand over others or pay more for it, both now and in the future.’

Kantar Millward Brown

 

In other words, the weight of your brand in influencing purchase decisions. Why so important? The more you become known (and liked), the less you have to spend (both money and effort) acquiring customers. Which leads to more sales.  The ability to charge a higher price. Trust. Loyalty. Referrals. All in the name of more profits. Need I say more?

Back to the three components of equity, which by the way have been determined based on a study of the world’s most successful brands in delivering results (that’s right, tangible, monetary outcomes). In a sentence; saliency is how well your brand comes to mind; meaningfulness is how well you meet your customers’ needs and their affinity towards your brand; and difference is your unique value. (You can read more about it here).

So how do you achieve these three things effectively to increase brand equity (the pinnacle of success)? Start by having a brand strategy and plan.

  • To be salient you need to be distinctive, memorable and able to reach and engage your target audience.
  • To be meaningful you must understand the functional needs of your customers and how to connect with them on an emotional level.
  • To be different you need to carve out your unique space and separate yourself from the competition.

All of which takes understanding, alignment, and a concerted effort starting from inside of your organisation, out. Brands that lack purpose, risk becoming invisible. Consumers are the most connected and disconnected than ever before and trust levels are at an all-time low (I mean can you blame them? Donald Trump case in point).  Brands need to be authentic. Make someone’s life better. Offer a superior product. Consistently deliver positive customer experiences.  Make a real difference in the world. To achieve this, your organisation needs to start by singing off the same hymn sheet (and then of course execute effectively, which is the NEXT big hurdle).

How we approach developing a Brand Strategy.

You may not have worked with an advertising or creative agency before, but if you have,  you’ll know that a brand strategy can be heavily focused on all the fun, colourful stuff, often containing lots of statements and descriptions that start with the word ‘brand’. Essence. Promise. Manifesto.  Purpose. Experience. Blueprint. Personality. Voice. Values. I’m not undermining these things as they can play a critical role (if you actually understand what they mean). Having left the big corporate rat race to start my own business, and now working with clients who don’t have a marketing budget that extends into the $Ms, I’ve had an awakening to the pitfalls of traditional brand strategies in delivering what they intend to achieve. To summarise:

  • Too much jargon = no action.
  • Too little focus on positioning = no difference.
  • All talk, no walk = superficial and short-lived.
  • Poor customer understanding + market research = you’re dead to me.

That’s why we take a very pragmatic approach made up of six steps. (Note: while the following example relates to an established business with a team, the principles can be applied to all).

  1. Discovery: the first phase is critical to the entire process and is centred around understanding your organisation’s customer, capabilities and marketplace. Start by conducting an audit of your business’s performance, services/products, existing customers, capabilities and marketing insights.  Coupled with a detailed assessment of the environment in which your business operates you should end up with a range of issues and opportunities that will fuel (or fault) your strategy.
  1. Direction: now that you’re armed with the issues and opportunities, it’s time to carve out the direction you wish to take your brand in. Even though there are many considerations when setting the direction, the outcome should be simple and actionable. A positioning ambition for your brand. This phase is still mostly rational and fact-based (and for internal eyes only) as the creative magic doesn’t come into play until phase 4: Branding.
  1. Team engagement: you’ve agreed the direction and it’s solid. You identified a range of strategic priorities that span the business to make your positioning ambition true. Remember, it’s an all-in effort when it comes to building a truly authentic brand. Now’s the time to rally the troops. Use the brilliant minds you have in your organisation to gain buy-in and contribution. After all, they will be translating your strategy into actions. Actions speak greater volumes than words, and the last thing you want is for your branding efforts to communicate a promise that your team doesn’t deliver on.
  1. Branding: finally, on to the fun stuff! Your branding is the creative expression of your strategy. It’s the all-encompassing persona your company uses to connect with your customers to achieve your desired brand position.  Your branding includes everything that touches the customer – actions (such as values, ethics, partnerships), interactions (customer services, front of house staff, website experience, purchase and post-purchase support), visual (logo, imagery, colours, packaging) and verbal (language, messaging, tone) identities.  
  1. Implementation: when the rubber hits the road. A good strategy that fails to implement effectively, is worth nothing. Nada. Zilch. Actually, it is worth something. The tens of thousands of dollars (or even hundreds of thousands depending on the size of your business) that you’ve invested in time and money to get to this point. Implementation will make or break your brand which is why we include it in our steps to success. Consistency is the key to becoming known. Do not digress from the agreed message because it’s not to your taste or you feel it’s ‘tired’ because you’ve used it a million times. Fact: on average a prospect must hear a message at least 7 times before they take action. Unless you have a million-dollar marketing budget, you’d be lucky if your customers have heard or seen it once or twice. Stick with it. Make it count. 
  1. Monitoring: hooray, your new brand or positioning is live. It’s now time to listen to your customers. Make tweaks to your strategy if necessary. Although you won’t see results overnight (especially if you don’t have lot of dosh to tell people about it), you should have an idea after 3-4 months if something’s gone terribly wrong. Look back at the goals and be sure to put systems in place to measure success. 

Obviously, there is nothing new or ground-breaking here. It’s simply a culmination of what we deem to be the foundations to making your brand strategy work.  And if there’s one thing we’ve learnt the hard way, it’s that brand strategies can fail before they’ve even taken off.

 

 

 

About the Author:

Mandy Hall has built some of Australia’s most infamous brands, SMEs and startups, to propel business growth, enhance customer experiences and build long-term brand affinity.  Having started her career at Virgin Blue (now Virgin Australia) and finishing her corporate employment as Head of Brand at Compare the Market (responsible for two talking Russian meerkats considered as loveable as the infamous m&m characters in just 4 years of existence), Mandy knows a thing or two about how to use your brand to rally hearts, minds and wallets.
Mandy Hall
Brand Strategist + Managing Director of Mayd