How We Do It: Developing Brand Leadership

By February 20, 2015Branding, Thoma Tips

As you’re probably aware, our firm’s mantra and guiding philosophy is “Live Your Brand.”

That statement derives from the idea that awesome brands — the ones that people fall in love with, tattoo on their backsides and devote their dollars to — are not simply marketing constructs.

Rather, they are holistic, comprehensive leadership principles. They are constructs that everybody from the CEO on down can rally around, understand and execute against. Making brands like that is a strategic AND creative AND management discipline.

In this series of posts that I’ve nicknamed “How We Do It,” I’m going to pull back the curtain a bit and explore some of the strategic tools and techniques that help clients discern their brand power and then activate that power to “move markets.” (I get some flak from my colleagues about that phrase — “move markets.” What does it mean, anyway? Sounds like another colorful Martinism! I borrowed the phrase from Wall Street; the powerful players, massive investment banks or secretive hedge funds that influence the movement of the stock market by either trading volume or “heard on the street” whispers are said to “move the market.” I like that idea — an effective brand should do the same in the market it serves — move market share, move customers, move volume, move revenues and profits.)

But I digress. In this “How We Do It” discussion, I want to explore my very favorite tool — the brand mood video.

One of the most challenging junctures in the brand journey is moving from theory into practice. You’ve done a TON of research — with customers, employees, industry observers. You’ve completed HOURS of workshops with the senior team. And you’ve finished an entire SYSTEM of Brand Leadership Frames™ — the strategic brand narratives.

But so far, you’ve got a LOT OF WORDS ON PAPER. Which is actually NOT the stuff that brands are made of. So how do you make this brand jump off the page? How do you breathe life into it? How do you ignite a flame within the executive team and the employee base that will catch fire out in the world?

So how do you make this brand jump off the page? How do you breathe life into it? How do you ignite a flame within the executive team and the employee base that will catch fire out in the world?

Our answer grows out of the longtime practice of brand development firms to create a “brand mood board” — essentially a collage of words, images and colors that paint an initial picture of what the brand’s “walk and talk” is. We’ve taken that exercise a step further with the brand mood video — three months of research and strategy baked into a 90- to 120-second short film.

We explored it first at the behest of creative director Wade McCune, who’s a genius at interpreting brand strategy into voice, sound and image. Not quite so produced as a TV spot, too thin to be called a documentary, the brand video is simply the first sketch or thumbnail of how this new brand might walk and talk. What I most love about this particular work product is that it’s generally the very first intersection of strategy and creative. The fact that it usually surprises US as much as our CLIENTS is certainly one of its greatest charms.

In practical application, the video is typically presented to the senior team as the brand strategy is completed and the initial brushstrokes of brand activation are being conceived. In most cases, the work lives on as a key and helpful internal communication tool that is shared with the entire employee team as the new brand framework rolls out internally.

Here’s one of our most recent brand mood videos. How does it work for you? I welcome your comments and feedback.

[youtube width=”910″ height=”736″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X59evxV3uIU[/youtube]

Author Martin Thoma

Began his agency career as a copywriter before co-founding Thoma Thoma more than 30 years ago. Now Martin focuses on helping brands grow by discerning, defining and articulating their unique strengths.

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