I had two realizations once I’d ‘made it’ to the role of senior brand strategist within the WPP network.
1. Breadth is best
I only felt like a valuable brand strategist once I had amassed a heap of diverse experience on brands. It is relatively easy and quick to understand the nuances and depth of a category and a brand’s direct competitors. But if you are tasked to help a client lead their category, ideas and inspiration for change need to come from elsewhere. Start with a deep, linear understanding, but for inspiration you need to think laterally.
2. But no one has time for it
I have worked with some astoundingly smart people whose appetite for knowledge, ideas and thinking is voracious. But no-one has time to satiate this. When you are working on a branding/rebranding/ refreshing program, you are scrambling to quickly get a handle of a new client’s business and industry, understand their target audiences and needs, carve out some head space to develop a new idea of what their brand should stand for, and ensure it is differentiated within their business’ competitive set.
What you don’t have time to do is assess that idea in the broader competitive context – the world of brand ideas as a whole – to consider it against all other brands who claim to stand for ‘connection’, to consider whether it is truly a different space, or whether you are competing in people’s minds against the 86 other brands who claim to enrich lives/help you succeed/see new possibilities.
My mission with Brand Lateral is to bring a more expansive perspective to conversations on what brands should stand for; looking at the world of brand ideas, across categories and countries, to help the people I work with create more competitive, leading and valuable brands.