Our brand director's top five must-dos in 2015

Tuesday, 31 March 2015, by Paul Owen

Davide DeMaestri is the Brand and Strategy director at Kenyon Fraser, I found him in a quiet room and seized my opportunity… He tells us all about the key processes behind creating a brand strategy and the ways it is developing and keeping up with the new and dizzy heights of 2015. He also expresses his admiration for a man who dresses in chrome and surfs around space.

What is your role at KF?

 My role is Brand and Strategy Director and I help our clients in the public, private or third sector to develop strategies and campaigns on and off line to deliver the results and generate a return on the marketing investment.

1. Keep in touch with the successful trends emerging this year. 

There are a few trends in 2015 that are worth keeping an eye on. One of them is the internet of things which is a very interesting development and it ties things like wearables into the internet so you’ll be able to measure things like fitness and wellbeing in ways that have never been possible. People are looking at all sorts of applications on how the internet can help manage, report and measure performance so that’s very exciting - it could really open up all sorts of avenues in terms of customer service and doing things differently.

2. There are important bits to remember about the traditional way of doing things even though it can seemingly be all about the digital.

You can spend a great deal of time on brand and identity with a fantastic TV commercial but then if you have a dreadful website experience, people get frustrated and that starts to come through on social media. You have to make sure that all touch points in the customer journey are covered by creative minded people who understand the whole customer experience. 

3. We mustn't lose the creative minds, they can’t be replaced with computers. There are also techniques to create a solid brand strategy...

Often you’re looking for something called ‘S.U.R.T.’, a simple and universally recognised truth which is a higher level need that the different customer segments may have and that is something that you can build your brand around.

Then you look at something called the ‘brand truth’ which is understanding what your organisation or brand say about itself that is persuasive, compelling and also true because it needs to be authentic and supported by evidence; proof points people sometimes call them.

This is followed by working out the noble purpose, this is ‘why have a group of men and women got together to create something, what is it they are trying to do?’, if you can answer that question then you can often get to the purpose. We use the S.U.R.T., brand truth and noble purpose, if you can use that branding equation then you will be able to define a brand positioning for an organisation.

4. Ideas need to stay fresh.

The creative processes are kept fresh by doing a number of things. One is constantly looking out for trends by subscribing to particular websites, looking to see what is happening online and looking for design innovation.

Visiting galleries, going to festivals, subscribing to blogs and magazines, looking at influencers or opinion forums online - those who might be forging ahead on fashion trends or typography trends – it all helps to keep your ideas fresh.

We also use brainstorming or ideation (a creation of ideas), refinement, competitive searching - looking at other sectors to see where innovation is happening; looking at non marketing activities to see if there are things that you can borrow.

5. Nothing is impossible.

I think the most important lesson to carry through to 2015 is that nothing is impossible. You can always find a solution; whatever the problem. Whilst it may seem daunting, if you have tenacity and you share the load and get people involved, there are nearly always ways through to find a positive solution 

One example at my old company was, in order to advertise cat food, we decided to advertise to the cats rather than the owners directly and what followed in this indirect approach actually proved very powerful.

So, to round up - the range of projects you have worked on must make it hard to pick a favourite… I’m going to be annoying and ask if you do actually have any favourites?

I think there are a few really good projects that we have worked on over the recent past. One of them is the Career Connect rebranding from what was Greater Merseyside Connexions Partnership, they were called GMCP.

 Overall, it was a great example of working successfully alongside a client who was open to ideas. The external environment was changing dramatically, funding had been restructured and they were looking at new markets. We reviewed their stakeholders; ran focus groups - internal staff, external stakeholders and partners like local authorities, as well as service users. We were able to bring together a number of different brand options which went to a vote and from that, they have relaunched and we have developed a communications strategy. That has been great fun.

Do you have any final thoughts or wisdom for anyone that is looking to do something like what you do?

I would try and get some work experience so that you can see what’s involved. It’s very varied and also requires hard work, dedication and perseverance so I would suggest having a look and getting a taste. You’re looking for people who put themselves out there and have shown that they’re interested in the industry.

Finally, and importantly, who is your favourite superhero?

I like the silver surfer. He was always a very enigmatic character even though I didn’t know what he was doing wandering around space on a surfboard. Well, perhaps more understandable than Nick’s choice

 

Davide can be contacted on matters related to any of the topics covered, on davide@kenyons.co.uk

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