Branding and storytelling in marketing are at a contrast with performance-related aspects like copywriting and conversions, and often take a backseat to the latter. This is the topic James looks to cover in his latest podcast episode.
Guest and member of his Mentor program Angelo Porrovecchio brings a unique view to the discussion, having worked on branding for large multinational companies in the mineral sector and for his personal passion project in the cycling market.
He and James will talk about what it takes to effectively create a personal brand.
They’ll look at the importance of brand rules and a marketing style guide.
And they’ll weigh in on the impact of good branding design versus that of performance marketing.
Table of contents:
1. Branding consistency and trust
2. How important are the details?
3. Can people learn good design?
4. The people Angelo works with
5. Getting to where you want to be
6. Not enough focus on brand
7. What goes into effective design
8. When someone encroaches on your brand…
9. Angelo’s typical approach
10. The struggles of being your own artist
11. Is something amiss with your brand?
Branding consistency and trust
Angelo reflects on branding within the performance-driven market, noting that without a compelling brand story and vision, businesses often end up competing solely on price. He emphasizes the importance of differentiating a product through visual and narrative elements to build value beyond cost.
Angelo defines a brand as the alignment of an organization’s visual, emotional appeal, and core values, suggesting that consistency in these aspects builds trust with customers. He points out, too, that our brains are drawn to consistent and reliable patterns, which do not appear erratic or untrustworthy, thereby fostering recognition and trust.
James draws a parallel with Red Bull’s branding across various sports, noting its consistency and omnipresence. Angelo confirms that such consistency breeds familiarity and trust, which is crucial for long-term business value. He also mentions that a recognized brand can significantly increase a business’s market value.
James hopes to emulate this success with his own surf brand, aiming for a strong, independent brand identity similar to that of enduring brands like Mercedes-Benz.
How important are the details?
James and Angelo discuss the significance of details in branding, particularly in the context of virtual presentations and content creation. James notes how even the setup of Angelo’s studio conveys a message, and Angelo agrees, stressing that elements like color and simplicity reflect an individual’s or brand’s identity.
Angelo says that individuality and storytelling are crucial, and even small details like James’s video flicker with a surfboard and microphone can become synonymous with a brand. He suggests that every brand has a unique story worth telling, which can resonate with people and create a sense of pride, regardless of the industry’s excitement level.
Can people learn good design?
James questions whether design sense is an innate skill or something that can be learned, observing that some individuals, like his friend Greg Merrilees, inherently understand what good design looks like. He shares his own reliance on experts for design and considers his young daughter’s natural artistic talent as further evidence that an eye for design might be intrinsic for some.
Angelo acknowledges that some people may be completely unaware of their poor design choices, and for those with a keen eye for design, it can be a curse to constantly notice design flaws in everyday life. He shares his experience with clients who have strong, yet misguided design ideas, stressing the importance of patience and the need to gently guide them towards better choices.
Angelo says he can often tell early on if a client relationship will work. It’s important, he goes on, to respect the client’s attachment to their project while also helping them understand when it’s time to let the pros take over, to ensure their brand is perceived in the best light possible.
The people Angelo works with
Angelo assists clients whose brands lack alignment and consistency in their storytelling and visual communication, which can limit their growth and market recognition. He emphasizes the need to listen to their stories and help those who feel that their current branding, such as their logo, does not accurately represent their identity or the essence of what they do. He often works with clients who have untapped potential in expressing their story.
Getting to where you want to be
The hidden arrow in the FedEx logo, says Angelo, is an example of how subtle design elements can convey a brand’s identity, emphasizing the importance of alignment in branding. He likens brand strategy to a flight path, where even slight deviations from the intended direction can lead to a completely different outcome, much like mistakingly ending up in a different city than planned.
James shares a story of a Mercedes-Benz dealer who, through a ticketing mistake, ended up in the small country town of Maury instead of Melbourne, and wound up setting up shop there.
When it comes to design, says Angelo, such happy accidents are rare, and a poor design can actually benefit one’s competitors by strengthening their brand by comparison.
Not enough focus on brand
Angelo suggests that many businesses prioritize performance marketing over brand awareness, potentially jeopardizing their longevity. He argues that a well-established brand can outlive its products, adapting and thriving even as markets change or products become obsolete, much like a brand can swap out products but maintain its value and customer loyalty.
James agrees, citing the enduring nature of prestigious car brands like Bugatti and Mercedes-Benz, noting that their rich heritage allows them to transcend changes in ownership and market trends. He reflects on his own shift from a performance-focused approach to recognizing the power of branding, having established style guidelines and specific colors for his company to maintain a consistent brand identity.
What goes into effective design
On the basics of branding and design, James wonders what essential tools should be included in the toolkit. Angelo emphasizes the importance of a color palette for brand consistency and the necessity of a logo that accurately represents the brand’s values.
Angelo further stresses the significance of brand consistency across various marketing materials and the digital presence, advocating for the use of a style guide to ensure uniformity. James echoes this sentiment and shares his own experience with standardizing fonts – Helvetica Neue, anyone? – and the positive impact of simplifying design elements on brand recognition.
James reflects on the evolution of his brand’s design, noting the shift away from flashy video effects to a more natural, authentic style that has become a unique signature of his content. Angelo confirms the importance of maintaining this consistency and resisting unnecessary changes that might dilute the brand’s identity.
The two discuss the challenges organizations face when individuals try to add their own flair to established branding, which can derail the brand’s direction. Angelo suggests regular updates to style guides to keep the branding fresh yet familiar, while James acknowledges the value of having a trusted designer like Greg to provide ongoing, iterative improvements in line with the philosophy of Kaizen.
When someone encroaches on your brand…
James speaks of the extensive branding assets used in his business, from logos to social media profiles, ensuring a consistent look and feel. He makes it a point to use the same profile photo across all platforms to establish trust and for easier identification, particularly as a defense against fraudsters who misuse his image for scams.
Vigilance is important, says James, in maintaining brand integrity. He has recently updated his bio to clarify that he does not give away Bitcoin, as a direct response to scam activities. Prompt action is needed, he says, to remove and ban fake accounts to protect his followers.
James also touches on the integration of personal branding elements, like his association with surfing, into his professional work, including his book cover. This shift to a more message-centric branding approach marks a strategic change, moving the focus from personal branding to the value provided by his content and services.
Angelo’s typical approach
Angelo advocates for early and consistent branding strategies, stressing cost-effectiveness through updates and a maintenance retainer rather than complete overhauls. His focus is on alignment and efficiency, looking to diagnose and address branding issues directly to achieve results without unnecessary theatrics.
Rejecting the stereotypical image of black-skivvies designer leading boardroom pitches, Angelo describes his approach as pragmatic and grounded, with an emphasis on understanding a client’s core values and goals. This hands-on method is informed by his own experiences as a business owner, ensuring that branding strategies are both authentic and practical.
James acknowledges Angelo’s success, noting international interest in Angelo’s brand as evidence of his ability to connect with and understand his market.
The struggles of being your own artist
Angelo has personally encountered the common designer’s dilemma, where the instinct is to attribute lack of sales to a design problem, leading to endless cycles of redesigns. He emphasizes the importance of recognizing one’s limitations and hiring experts in specific areas, like accounting, to complement one’s own expertise in design.
Angelo’s brand, Got Creative, offers branding solutions and features an online brand pulse checker for prospective clients to assess their branding needs. This initial self-evaluation often leads to the realization of the need for professional branding assistance.
Is something amiss with your brand?
A key indicator of brand misalignment, says Angelo, is an emotional disconnection; if someone feels their brand doesn’t represent them or what they stand for, especially aesthetically, it’s a sign that something needs to change.
James concurs. Personal attachment to a brand, he says, is crucial for small businesses, and a lack of pride in one’s brand can be the first hint that it’s time for a rebranding.
James shares his own experience of outgrowing his business’s name and rebranding to reflect his personal growth and the evolved vision of his business. He underscores the importance of authenticity and personal connection to the brand, citing his surf brand as an example of a brand that resonates deeply with him and his audience.
Concluding the chat, James reflects on the tangible value of a strong brand in the business sales process, acknowledging that a brand’s reputation can significantly enhance its market value.
Angelo agrees, adding that a well-connected brand creates a liberating feeling for both the creator and the audience.
If you are interested in Angelo’s branding solutions, his company is Got Creative, at gotcreative.com.au.
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