So where to start?

It’s good to talk.

Often the best way to get things off the ground is simply by talking to people. And in many cases, just talking to people is the job. Finding out what your employees, customers, partners or competitors think of you and expect from you is critical for any business. Sometimes it will be in person but often it can be done by phone. It involves planning, preparation, execution and analysis to be able to come back with pragmatic recommendations. So whether it’s employees, trade associations, foundations or even competitors you need to understand, a little dialogue can go a long way. As an impartial third party I can be sure to get more honest answers than if you try to do this yourself of course.

Here’s some of the ways I can get involved…

Working with a healthcare specialist law firm to get to what it was that made them special involved interviewing partners and clients out of hours so as not to get in the way of chargeable time.

And staying legal, some recent work involved interviewing clients and partners of the most globally recognised dispute resolution firm to help them to better shape their offer. Reputation surveys such as this will often involve internal teams and bring issues to light that have not previously been discussed.

In manufacturing, work for a Japanese organisation meant understanding their strengths and weaknesses from the perspectives of customers, agents and OEMs to help better define and sharpen their offer. And most recently working with a UK based manufacturer with similar audience base to discover competitive advantage.

For what is probably one of the world’s largest paint companies it was all about understanding attitudes of employees to help paint a better picture of what sustainability meant for the business.

Investigating reputation for a leading engineering business following a period of change presented the opportunity to talk to employees, partners, influencers, peer group and customers of course.

What’s everyone up to?

No matter what business you’re in it pays to know what your competitors are up to. A brand audit will check out propositions, messages and claims, equities including look and feel, colour palettes and use of imagery and typography. A bit of mapping and gapping will give a picture of the context you operate in and where the opportunities for your brand might lie. There’s barely a single brand job of any sort that doesn’t start from here. And while you’re checking out the competition it’s not a bad time to check out the health of your own brand – now that you know what your competitors are up to how does yours stack up?

Here’s some of the ways I can get involved…

Before commissioning a new web platform it was important for a leading not for profit organisation to understand the competitor landscape. What did their competitors look like and what did they say about themselves in terms of proposition and key messages? How did the competition shape up on mobiles and tablets? Did they use any interesting functionality or offer products or services that would need to be considered when creating a brief for their own site?

For an international energy company the audit was much more about understanding how their competitors were communicating with different audiences, what was their stance on community relations, environmental issues and sustainability as well as general key messages and look and feel?

With one of the UK’s most significant not for profit organisations it was all about investigating new revenue streams though the application of technology and involved interviewing scientists, agents and TTO’s to confirm the opportunity.

For one of the UK’s most widespread higher education services businesses the need was to confirm strategic direction and values through a slice of the business from front of house to CEO.

Dealing with sensitive issues such as reorganisation is where a neutral third party can be really helpful. For central government a programme involved interviewing Regional Development Agencies and Devolved Administrations about the potential for shared offices overseas and shared branding.

It’s all about beliefs and ambitions

Vision, mission, mantra, proposition, core purpose, values, behaviours, personality, positioning, tone of voice – what do you really need?

The answer is that no two organisations are the same, so you have to do what’s right for you. Whether it’s the result of mergers and acquisitions, changes of strategy, start ups or brand refreshes it’s all about getting to the heart of an organisation and there’s all kinds of ways to get there. What I can say with certainty though is that it’s actually very difficult to be simple.

Here’s some of the ways I can get involved…

My work in this area has spanned many sectors including manufacturing, professional services, technology, leisure and not for profit.

Say it like it is…

Key messages. It’s all too easy to mix up everything you need to say. A little bit of structure helps you know what you want to say and to be able to make sure the right messages are used in all the right places. And just as importantly is who you want to say it to…

…to the people that need to know

Audience mapping is all about sorting out everyone you communicate with and establishing what it is that they need to hear from you. A process of working with you to separate and cluster according to need in order to get the right messages to the right audiences.

Here’s some of the ways I can get involved…

Key message development is essentially the bread and butter of my work, either as part of larger projects along with audience mapping, or as a stand alone piece for organisations including national and local government, professional services, energy companies, technology companies, higher education and not for profits.

Strategies and plans

You’ll (hopefully) already have your business plans in place to achieve your aims, ambitions or targets. Communications, marketing and innovation strategy is where I can lend a hand. Working together is probably the best way forward. With your knowledge of your business and sector and my experience from a real cross section of organisations we’ll soon get your strategies in shape.

Here’s some of the ways I can get involved…

Development of category strategy for retail, innovation strategy for FMCG, communications strategy for energy and technology, marketing strategy for higher education.

Concept development and campaigns

Starting out in advertising means that concept and campaign development is a bit like riding a bike for me, and every so often its good to have a go again. I have been the principal architect of a number of award winning campaigns of late that have included health and safety and sustainability, but my favourite is still something I did for Honda a long time ago. Behaviour change and sustainability are a bit of a speciality of mine whilst campaign and media planning are often part of the deal.

Here’s some of the ways I can get involved…

 Internal and external campaign development for retail, professional services, automotive, FMCG, higher education, trade associations, property, government.

Help is at hand

Of course there are some areas where I will work with you and can advise on which specialists to use. Needless to say, I have a talented network to draw on that includes designers of every kind you can imagine, web developers, film producers, photographers, music writers, animators, copywriters, editors and researchers. And if a job is too big to work this way as your Right Hand Man then I can recommend the most appropriate specialist or agency for you.

Hot off the press...

The film below is something that I scripted and worked on with Jude Greenaway, the renowned Director/Composer, for a new Innovation Centre and part of an entire programme of brand development.