For organisations who haven’t yet embraced brand purpose, can you explain why it’s so important?
Steve Edwards, Chief Marketing Officer at Robert Walters Group
If a company’s vision and values are the What and How, then purpose is the Why – the reason your company exists, beyond making money.
Even as recently as when we started Rare Breed, it was seen as a less important question than the others but that has changed significantly in recent years. Increasingly, a new generation of employees want to know why they come to work, not just what they do when they get there. And a clear sense of purpose might be the difference between them choosing your organisation over a competitor, not to mention being guided by it in how they deliver their job.
The pandemic has had an interesting impact on businesses who’d relied on superficial perks to keep their teams chipper. Whilst working from home, free coffees and fruit are off the agenda. Whereas with a strong brand purpose, the sense of why you work for a business remains strong, even when office life as we knew it is turned on its head.
Beyond the pandemic – a cursory look on Google provides a wealth of stats on how purposeful companies consistently out-perform the non-believers. They are more profitable, find employee recruitment easier and benefit from greater retention and loyalty. Case closed. Neglect it at your peril!
The structure of a barristers’ chambers is very different than other professional services. How would you go about reinforcing the importance of brand?
Petra Bailey, Marketing DIrector at 3VB
In our work with barristers’ chambers, we’ve learnt that even as a collective of self-employed individuals, brand was no less relevant for them than for their solicitor cousins.
Few would dispute the importance of the reputation of a set of chambers when it comes to securing and retaining clients, and they recognise the role that PR, events and increasingly social media play in enhancing this.
A big part of engaging the sceptics, therefore, is to make the connection between brand and reputation. A strong brand is far more than a Nike swoosh! Creating a brand that encapsulates your differentiating qualities, your core values, as well as your visual identity, will make it easier for your target audience to quickly understand and engage with why they should work with you.
It doesn’t have to be an arduous (or even particularly costly) process. And it will mean that any other activity to build the profile of either the chambers as a whole or individual barristers within it works harder for you as a result.
We’re required to do so much with our annual report now to comply with regulations and communicate everything we need to our investors and other stakeholders. What’s design’s role in all this?
Jacky Norris, Group Chief Accountant at Finsbury Food Group
There’s no escaping the fact that an annual report has a lot to do to meet the requirements and demands of a large number of stakeholders. We like to think of design as the vehicle by which you ensure this wealth of information is clear, easy to absorb and navigate and importantly allows you to steer the reader to the information you most want them to see.
There are lots of things that go into this – a memorable and meaningful concept on which to build the narrative, graphics that illustrate or simplify complex information, great photography of board members, team activities and ESG initiatives, and signposting systems that take you to the information you want, or allow you to access information depending on how much time you have (30 second read/3 minute read/30 minute read etc).
Your annual report shouldn’t sit in splendid isolation and good design will ensure that it is integrated with your wider communications strategy, both in terms of the visual elements and tone of voice, as well as key values and purpose.
Digital is a big part of this – presenting much greater opportunities for readers to move easily between the annual report and other parts of your website, or link to more in depth content than you would want to include in the report.
Done well, an annual report can be used for so much more than compliance – some may think it’s not the most exciting part of the design industry but we disagree!
What do you consider to be the most underutilised facet of a brand identity?
David Melnick, Senior Group Communications Manager at Robert Walters
It seems that everyone embraces the importance of a visual identity – logos, colour palettes and fonts are all widely understood to be an important part of an organisation’s brand identity – but the verbal aspects of a brand are often given less attention when really they are just as important as the visual elements.
The Economist is a great example of an organisation that has built its entire marketing strategy around a clear tone of voice; for many businesses, real differentiation when it comes to verbal identity is much more elusive. Perhaps it’s down to a view that they should ‘be able to manage the copy bit’ themselves? But even if you have lots of good writers in your team, marrying good copy with your brand values and personality to create a distinctive tone of voice for your brand is not as easy as it sounds.
One of our esteemed copywriters has waged a decades-long war on jargon and what he refers to as the ‘blandwagon’ where certain words – innovation, honesty, excellence – are so abstract and have been so overused, they have almost lost their meaning.
For instance, if ‘innovation’ could be broadly defined as ‘the introduction of something new’, what does this actually mean for your business, your customers or your team? Is there an alternative word or phrase that really gets to the heart of the kind of innovation you bring to the table.
It’s not an easy thing to do and, for most companies, it requires specialist support from brand strategists and copywriters – but it’s worth the investment for the transformative effect it will have on your brand and ultimately all your communications, internal and external.