Magazine article Marketing

Brand Design Essays: Struggling with Decisions? Think Harder,faster,beta

Magazine article Marketing

Brand Design Essays: Struggling with Decisions? Think Harder,faster,beta

Article excerpt

Dare we challenge the age-old way in which brand design is developed? An agile mindset and process can be applied to brand design just as readily as to marketing, bringing a more entrepreneurial approach.

Simon Ward, Chief executive (EU), Holmes & Marchant

We take decisions every day, but it's getting harder, faster and scarier. It feels like we're all drowning in data, with less time, more at stake and wider choices. So, how to cope?

There's been a growing force in marketing in the past couple of years that's gaining currency as an increasingly relevant way to help marketers leapfrog the question of how to decide. It's the agile development approach and it's entering the world of brand design.

Marc Pritchard, global CMO of Procter & Gamble, went on record last year saying that agile is the 'new must-have skill for marketers', while Unilever chief executive Paul Polman said: '(We're) ... reallocating budgets to enable us to make content in an always-on world. Agencies need to organise themselves around the consumer, not the client.'

So what is agile?

Agile is a mindset and a process. The long (and sequentially) planned approach, with 'big leaps of faith', is replaced by mini-steps. It asks for a continual journey of 'test, learn, commit' (TLC) loops. There's no better parallel than Darwinian philosophy, where the most successful species are those quickest to adapt. (See Anthony Freeling's book Agile Marketing: How to Innovate Faster, Cheaper and with Lower Risk for more.)

You can see how this applies to marketing. Some specialisms are inherently agile. Think optimisation in digital-media planning or social-media community management.

Some companies are putting agile into practice in their strategic planning and ongoing structures and processes, too. But what about brand design? Doesn't it need more time, patience and, well, distance for the genius to emerge? No, it doesn't.

Making it work in brand design

Branding and marketing are close cousins. A strong brand drives preference, premium pricing and loyalty, but is more of a permanent asset than the on/off nature of marketing. An 'always-on' agile approach can bring them closer, but the brand-development process can benefit most.

If you take core development activities in brand design - such as corporate branding, retail environments, innovation, brand packaging and employee engagement - you can apply a more agile approach to how initiatives are developed and brands managed. …

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