Brand Scammed! How to Avoid Buying the Wrong Branding Solution


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For those who are about to brand, we salute you. It's a dangerous path, filled with dead ends, wrong turns, misleading signposts, and the occasional highwayman. But we're here to help. We're trying to save branding from the fast talkers and the slow movers, the artistes and the dilettantes.

That's why we created Brand Scammed! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution, our eBook tackling the challenge of choosing the best way to get the best brand. In it, you'll find out about common branding pathologies, from the branding process that does too much to the one that does too little. We give you the straight story on doing do-it-yourself branding. We help you diagnose your own branding situation, so you know what you're ready to do and what you should wait on. And we decrypt the branding jargon, so you talk the talk as well as walk the walk.

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Brand Scammed! How to Avoid Buying the Wrong Branding Solution

  1. 1. BRANDSCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution By Axle Davids, CEO, Distility™
  2. 2. BRANDSCAMMED! HELP PREVENT YOUR PEERS FROM GETTING BRAND SCAMMED Please post this on your blog or email it to whomever you believe would benefit from reading it. © 2010 by Axle Davids Copyright holder is licensing this under the Creative Commons License, Attribution 3.0.
  3. 3. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Axle Davids, founder of Distility™ Branding, is a recovering brand expert and pioneering brand technologist. In 2001, he established aXle® Branding, 1 team + 1 day = 1 brand which focused on branding and design for industry innovators like AT&T Mobility, Applied Biosystems, and AutoShare Car Sharing Network. This venture has now evolved into Distility Branding, a company that is forging a new path with its innovative Distility 1day1brand™ workflow and pragmatic branding approach. Reach him at or on twitter at @axle.
  5. 5. As a recovering brand expert, I am here to tell you that I still love and believe in branding. But here is the naked truth: Branding is broken and you – the buyer – must beware. Branding refers to the creation and development of brands. Branding is still, as it is most often practiced, a complete and utter mess. Branding is more occult than voodoo, more expensive than yachting, and more dangerous than lawn darts. Branding is slower than rust, more frustrating than roadwork, and has a return on investment somewhat less measurable than prayer. Big agency-style BRANDING IS BROKEN. branding is the product of a time when business moved slowly, budgets were big, and television was an exciting new medium. And do-it-yourself branding can be a grand adventure, like going for a drive in the country with no map and a quarter tank of gas. Blame the experts. Since they excel at differentiating ideas, they’ve created more proprietary methods and gobbledygook than you can imagine – from models so complicated they should come with a decoder ring, to those so haphazard and elementary you might consider tacking them up on the fridge next to your kid’s art. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 5
  6. 6. Blame the branding wannabes. Those who have “worked on a brand” so they claim they do “branding”, so most brand development ignores basic best practices and produces underwhelming results. Blame human nature for the politics and decision-making pathologies that can set even the best project intentions on the road to brand hell. Despite these frights, we know that branding can be fast and safe, it can involve your team and reflect your values, and it can help you break through “ stagnating groupthink to a clear understanding of who you show the world. Good brand development can lead to good brand marketing, which can optimize and increase awareness, sales, and loyalty. Who wouldn’t want that? INCOMPREHENSIBLE VOODOO ” GUY KAWASAKI THE ART OF THE START This eBook is not just about helping you choose the right vendor or hire, but about helping you navigate the branding landscape. In fact, the do it yourself route may be the right fit for your firm. This is our effort to save you from the heartache and headache of committing to the wrong branding solution. We will provide you with the guidance and tools you need to help cut through the complexity of branding and find the right solution for you. While we do believe that brand development is necessary if you want to remain competitive, we also believe it doesn’t have to be a necessary evil. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 6
  8. 8. This scam is by far the biggest of all Brand Scams and leads to the worst brands of all. The typical story is a client who needs a branding deliverable like a website or lead generation campaign. They ask their internal resource or a vendor to do a logo, tagline, or “figure out our brand” while they are at it. BRAND SCAM ONE The vendor may be well intentioned but ignorant about brand analysis, strategy or BUYING TOO LITTLE standards. They may be overconfident, a branding wannabe who figures that since they have worked “on a brand” they are capable of creating one. Or they may be cynical, preferring to avoid the heavy thinking and collaboration of brand analysis and brand strategy, and just get a billable deliverable out the door. But the real person to blame here is the buyer. If you still think branding is just a logo, or a slogan, or a brainstorm, you are kickin’ it old- school – and not in a cool retro way. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 8
  9. 9. Too many branding vendors bank on the fact that you are lost in the branding quagmire, so they can sell you more than you really need. Less common, but still a concern, is the in-house resource who is going to take your project down the rabbit hole, drawing it out, maybe never to get it done. Because branding is sold as art, as science, and BRAND SCAM TW0 as everything inbetween, there are no standard deliverables in the industry. What can you do? BUYING TOO MUCH We want to make sure you’re not an easy target, so we have to use branding speak now to explain the basic branding deliverables that any sane vendor or hire would use. Use them as a baseline to compare the deliverables vendors and hires will recommend as well as to detect unnessary or hidden costs your vendor or hire may be neglecting to share. We promise, it will be over soon. These deliverables fall into four major types of BRANDING WORK... BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 9
  10. 10. THE FOUR TYPES ONE FOUR OF BRANDING WORK BRAND ANALYSIS BRAND MARKETING The work of learning about your The work to increase, monitor and audience, market, competitors, and manage brand awareness, brand your own brand’s current strengths consideration, and brand loyalty. Your and weaknesses. choices and channels are informed by your marketing strategy. TWO BRAND STRATEGY On the next page, you’ll see The work that defines the ideas specific deliverables associated behind the best possible brand with these steps (or system of brands) to support your business strategy. THREE BRAND STANDARDS The work that brings the brand strategy to life in the form of names, tag-lines, colours, logos, and re-usable verbal and visual guidelines. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 10
  11. 11. THE FOUR MAJOR TYPES OF BRANDING WORK BASIC DELIVERABLES ONE TWO THREE FOUR BRAND ANALYSIS BRAND STRATEGY BRAND STANDARDS BRAND MARKETING Customer analysis Brand Promise* Verbal system* Brand Transition Campaign Primary audience, secondary Brand Personality* name, descriptor, domain name, Employee Brand Education audience, key influencers, trends, Brand Position* tagline*, headline style, copy style Campaigns needs, existing perceptions of Market Position Visual system* Awareness Campaigns brand category Customer, need, frame of logo/wordmark, colour, typeface, Lead Generation Campaigns Competitor analysis reference, point of difference, style of layouts and imagery Market position, brand position, reasons to believe Sales Campaigns Digital templates brand promise, brand personality, Value Proposition Website, intranet, blog, Loyalty Campaigns strengths, weaknesses Functional benefits, emotional eNewsletter, YouTube skin, Twitter Brand Management Reports Current brand audit benefits, features skin, logo animation, audio logo Brand Monitoring Reports Current brand promise, brand Brand Architecture Printed stationery personality, brand positioning, (for multiple brands) Business cards, letterhead, history, strengths, weaknesses, labels, note cards, pocket folder, Report(s) for the above opportunities, threats, values, envelopes, report and proposal portfolio analysis (for multiple covers, CD labels and packaging brands) * Called “Brand Identity” deliverables by some practitioners Office templates Report(s) for the above Presentation slides, letter, memorandum, invoice, news release, report, proposal, eBook Event guidelines Advertising guidelines Signage guidelines BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 11
  12. 12. PHEW! BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 12
  13. 13. Did you make it through all that with your vision intact? We did our best to be easy on you. But we’re the exception. Since branding experts are masters of differentiation, it only makes sense that they will go the extra mile to come up with BRAND SCAM THREE oh so sexy and unique jargon and systems. Just remember that branding deliverables are PROPRIETARY MODELS best when they are simple, easy to socialize, and easy to scale. Proprietary models are more than likely to leave designers, writers, marketers, and your own team at a disadvantage when it comes to interpreting and applying your brand strategy. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 13
  14. 14. PROPRIETARY GOBBLEDYGOOK / BRAND DRIVER™ / EYEOPENER™ / BRANDAMPLIFIER™ / BANDCORE™ / BRAND PIVOT™ / THE TSE™ FRAMEWORK / MINDJAB™ / ONE UNIFYING MESSAGE™ / PIVOTAL BRAND IDENTITY™ / BRAND BELIEF SYSTEM™ / TREND-CENTRIC HUMAN BEHAVIOR MODEL™ / NARRATIVE BRANDING® / IDEA® PROCESS / CONTEXT BRANDING® If your branding expert, be they vendor or in-house resource, can’t use basic branding terms like analysis, strategy, promise, positioning, and personality, you are in for a world of pain. Consider yourself warned. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 14
  15. 15. Vendors will sometimes take on substancial projects at cut-rate prices. You get branding. You get an amazing deal. What could go wrong? Lots. The vendor will be compelled to put richer projects and proposals ahead of your meetings BRAND SCAM FOUR and deadlines. They’ll be tempted to reduce costs by cutting out steps on their side.They’ll THE MARKDOWN be pressured to save time by emailing the work to you instead of taking the time to properly present and get feedback. They’ll see this as an opportunity to improve their margins, using junior resources or less expensive sub-contractors. Sadly, even a deal from a trusted, committed, no-corners-cut vendor will sour and get resentful if it is too slow, or too complicated, or reflects any of the other Brand Scams in this eBook. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 15
  16. 16. What do you sell? Who is going to buy it? Who else can offer them a competitive solution? If the answer to any one of these questions eludes you, buying branding will not make them magically appear. You’re just buying into another Brand Scam - Doing branding before business strategy. For your brand to work, you first need to be clear on what you are selling, who is buying, BRAND SCAM FIVE and who you are competing against. You know, basic business strategy stuff. BRAND BEFORE BUSINESS You must first define your business strategy, which you can either do internally or with the help of market research, consultation, business coaching, and the like. Then, you can proceed through brand analysis, brand strategy, and other branding work. The evaluation on the next page will help you to determine just what kind of branding work you’re ready to do. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 16
  17. 17. BRANDING ACTIVITY ASSESSMENT SECTION ONE SECTION TWO HOW WELL DOES YOUR FIRM KNOW ITS AUDIENCE? HOW WELL DOES YOUR FIRM KNOW ITS OFFER? OPTION ONE STOP OPTION ONE STOP We still need to think it through. You’re not ready for branding. Not very. Our offering is so new, You’re not ready for branding. Get We don’t have enough data or This is a Business Strategy innovative or complex, we’re not back to your Business Strategy. experience to feel confident about issue. aligned on exactly what we are it. It will take a major effort to get offering as our brand. this clarified confidently. OPTION TWO CAUTION OPTION TWO CAUTION Somewhat. We have our own Your firm requires brand analysis. We sell to a few different types. Your firm requires brand term for what we are selling. It is Only by understanding your But with information we have analysis. Although, if you are meaningful to us, but customers audience can you hope to get your and our intuition, we can quickly confident enough, you may don’t get it. It takes some branding right. define our customer. be able to do it quickly and education. intuitively. OPTION THREE PROCEED! OPTION THREE PROCEED! Very well. Just like “Kleenex” Sounds like you may have done We can describe our primary Sounds like you may have done sells “Tissue” and “Post-it” sells brand analysis or will have an buyer clearly with a good sense of brand analysis or will have an “Sticky Notes”, we can clearly easy time of it. After that, move their age, education, aspirations, easy time of it. After that, move describe in one, two, or three on to brand strategy. and pains. We can easily find on to brand strategy. words what we are selling and real examples of our “typical” people instantly understand. customer. continued <
  18. 18. BRANDING ACTIVITY ASSESSMENT CONT. SECTION THREE SECTION FOUR ARE YOU CLEAR ON YOUR COMPETITORS? ARE YOUR BRAND CHALLENGES STRAIGHT-FORWARD? OPTION ONE STOP OPTION ONE STOP No. Our internal list of You’re not ready for branding. No. Our brand is failing and we’re You require Business Strategy competitors is vague and This is a Business Strategy issue. not sure why. work. If the problem is related fluctuating. Remember, competitors don’t to brand perception, then you have to be direct ones. require brand analysis work. OPTION TWO CAUTION OPTION TWO CAUTION Not sure. We’re not sure all You require brand analysis, or Yes, but fuzzily. We are confident Your firm requires brand analysis. our brands are even needed in even Business Strategy Analysis. we know our competitors but we the first place. We may have a “Brand Architecture” work is have not studied their strategy, problem of “over-branding”. If probably required, and can be a positioning, or messaging. We not that, then we have different major effort. need to find the time to do this, brands and we’re not sure how or get help. they should both work together and address different customers. OPTION THREE PROCEED! Yes, and accurately. We are You may be ready for brand OPTION THREE PROCEED! routinely competing against a strategy or brand standards work. Yes. We have just one corporate You are likely ready for branding. small number of competitors, brand and/or multiple brands that which we can name, and have do not overlap or cause confusion. analyzed. Or we are competing Thought not in crisis, the brand(s) against a large number of can stand to be improved. competitors that we have grouped and analyzed. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 18
  19. 19. We’ve all heard that politics have no place in polite conversation. Well, we’re not talking those politics. We’re talking about a brand BRAND SCAM SIX scam here where human nature is to blame. In 23 in-depth interviews with brand marketers, PLAYING POLITICS we heard that the hardest part of branding is getting stakeholders to agree on brand direction, and that branding projects primarily fail due to group decision-making pathologies or political dysfunctions. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 19
  20. 20. WILL POLITICS DERAIL YOUR BRANDING? Nothing’s certain, but we have If this sounds like your team… Then you should… included a table with some Our projects are typically stymied Try and find work at a new company. If you characteristics and dynamics of by bureaucracy, and/or egos, can’t do that, try and employ one of the different types of teams. Take a and/or groupthink. facilitator types we discuss later in this eBook. look, see which characteristics hit closest to home, and check We don’t feel there is a need for rebranding, Proceed with caution. Try to ensure that out our recommendations for but someone wants changes will not worsen brand repute. how to proceed. to use it as an opportunity to Unnecessary branding can make their mark. be seen as a sign of weakness, and can just as easily undo previous branding efforts. We lack brand and/or other marketing Proceed with caution. Your branding project experience, and/or have strong (even could be a great learning exercise, and an domineering) players, and/or our leadership is opportunity for new voices to be heard. Just disengaged from this kind of decision-making. be careful that it doesn’t stall in the process We openly discuss business / marketing Proceed confidently into your concepts, explore new ideas, and are capable branding work. of reaching healthy consensus. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 20
  22. 22. So you have an idea of what kind of branding you need to do – now what? It’s time to choose how you are going to do it. Will you: Do it in-house? In-house branding is a common “no budget” solution. It is a great way to engage entire teams in the branding process. It is also an opportunity to get lost down rabbit holes and never find your brand. TO INSOURCE Leave it to the experts? Brand developers do branding every day. They OR TO OUTSOURCE? know what to do – and what not to do. As experts, they can produce brand outcomes that drive loyalty and sales. But they can also have antiquated perspectives on branding with a slow process to match. They may be used to endless budgets and try to sell you more than you need. Work with a graphic designer, web designer, or marketing generalist? They may be a known factor and more pragmatic than the experts, but their approach may be about as effective as a plumber’s approach to building a skyscraper. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 22
  23. 23. Whether you choose to outsource or do your branding in-house, you may have all sorts of characters involved in the action. As vendors or team members, these people fall into a few different categories, as outlined in the pages that follow. Take a look – who would you like on your team? WHO SHOULD YOU ADD TO YOUR TEAM? THE PROCEDURALIST? THE INTUITIVE? THE DABBLER? THE DREAM TEAM? THE FACILITATOR? BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 23
  24. 24. THE PROCEDURALIST The Proceduralist is the luxury tailor of branding. With a Add to your team if: formal, high-touch approach, the Proceduralist requires > Your answers on the Branding Assessment numerous meetings and comprehensive planning point to the need for brand analysis. exercises to customize your solution. The results are > You prefer a strategic, customized, in-depth approach. often impressive, with polished deliverables based on a > You are prepared to engage in a formal, strong brand foundation. The Proceduralist is well suited multi-phased process. to brand analysis and Brand Tracking and Monitoring, Find a better match if: and also does well with many aspects of brand strategy. > You don’t have the time, budget or patience Tactical creative expressions such as brand names, for a lot of meetings. designs or campaigns may be challenging for the left- > Your brand challenges are routine and straight-forward. brained Proceduralist. Beware of: > Paying for too much “thinking,” too many documents, not enough action. > Being pitched every possible deliverable and more in the first two columns of the branding services table as a billable item. (See page 11). BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 24
  25. 25. THE INTUITIVE Somewhat like a mystic, the Intuitive instinctively feels Add to your team if: out the missing pieces and visualizes the solution to a > You have concrete ideas about your brand. more compelling brand. As creative types often eschew > Your brand is not in crisis. convention, this style lacks formal process. None the > You need professional pieces you can use, and fast. less, with the right blend of people and ideas, this > You are prepared to trust your brand to intuition. approach can make magic – efficiently, even. Intuitives Find a better match if: can produce high impact designs, making Brand Identity > You need to see a plan up front. deliverables their sweet spot. They can excel at > You are looking for Brand Tracking & Monitoring. brand strategy and brand analysis, but don’t expect > Your team has not explored or committed to core a paper trail. brand concepts, and needs facilitation to get there. > You seek collaboration. > You want proof of how the Intuitive’s work conforms to best practices. Beware of: > Those who cannot prove success with the intuitive approach. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 25
  26. 26. THE DABBLER The Dabbler can do branding, but we all know that “can” Add to your team if: doesn’t mean “should”. The Dabbler does not practice > Someone on your team has had a career in branding as a core competency or have the thousands of a brand-centred industry. hours of experience required of an expert. The Dabbler’s > Your branding team wants to learn branding industry-specific expertise or a close familiarity with the best practices. project may override those issues. Confidence, interest, > You don’t have the budget for more than one resource. and aptitude can drive positive outcomes through a > You value industry expertise over branding expertise. virtuous circle of team and circumstance. Find a better match if: > You can’t afford the learning curve. > You need a clear, proven solution to your brand challenges. Beware of: > Damage caused by a lack of brand analysis and brand strategy > Brand failure due to brand standards work (names, logos, taglines) that infringes on trademarks or has negative cultural, linguistic, or .com associations > Losing time due to the learning curve or getting sidetracked. > Having your budget disproportionately spent on the Dabbler’s area of expertise. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 26
  27. 27. THE DREAM TEAM This team consists of some combination of Add to your team if: Proceduralists, Dabblers, and Intuitive branding > You like working with (or currently have) a diverse team. professionals. You get the best of all of these individuals, > You have the budget to put toward a team of this nature. including structure, creative input, and an ability to look > You see branding as part of a bigger strategy, and into tactics and execution. A team such as this is often want access to broad expertise. part of a bigger, more expensive marketing, advertising, > You have clarity about team roles and responsibilities. or design machine that can handle the full spectrum of > You see branding as a continuous investment vs. brand deliverables. Otherwise, it is one requiring you to a point in time solution. invest a lot in order to build. Find a better match if: > You do not have the budget for a large firm’s services or you don’t have the time to manage a Dream Team yourself. Beware of: > The bait and switch. The team that sells the dream may not be the team that does the work. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 27
  28. 28. THE FACILITATOR The Facilitator is often someone with a background in Add to your team if: coaching, team building, or organizational development, > Either you or the Facilitator are clear on a who takes a collaborative approach to whatever they do. brand model and methodology. The Brand Facilitator has a core competency in Branding > You are confident in your team’s ideas. to boot. They use workshops and brainstorming to help > You have a limited budget for outside help. with brand analysis, brand strategy and brand marketing. In all cases, the Facilitator relies on your expertise to Find a better match if: drive productive conversations around your customers, > You prefer to have an expert fix your brand challenges. competition, and brand direction. > You don’t trust your team to know the business strategy and pre-requisites for brand strategy. Beware of: > Barriers to collaboration within your own team – from teammates who do not wish to explore the brand to authoritarians who will not commit to ideas that are not their own. These barriers can impede the progress and undermine the value of this approach. SHAMELESS PLUG Here at Distility, we consider ourselves brand facilitators with a technology twist. Click here to find out more.
  29. 29. Pop quiz! No, not for you - we’ve made you think enough. This one is for potential vendors IDENTIFYING or internal candidates you may be looking at to help with your branding work. The questions THE BRAND SCAM on the following pages are based on branding best practices, and our own experience of EIGHT CRITICAL what works the best when it comes to building compelling brands. If you can stump your LINES OF QUESTIONING potential branding hire with these, it wasn’t meant to be. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 29
  30. 30. ASK THEM... WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE? The best way to know how a vendor VERY SPECIFICALLY ASK… or team member can help you is to > How many years have you been > What was your most successful understand how they’ve helped others doing branding? project? Why? in the past. > Who are your current customers? > Least successful? Why? Understanding whether your candidate has the right experience to > Who are your past customers? > Have your previous clients been help you means knowing who they’ve able to understand and share > Who is your longest held customer? worked with, they type of work they’ve your brand model with others? Or done - and whether it aligns with > What percentage of your work is have they required an education the work you need, and the types of brand analysis? brand strategy? program to do so? brands they’ve worked on. brand standards? brand marketing? Other? > What percentage of your work is on new brands? Doing rebranding? Working on existing brands? DOWNLOAD All the questions (and more) in this section can be downloaded in one handy-dandy spreadsheet. Visit and go to our resources/tools section. Or if your reader permits, click here. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 30
  31. 31. ASK THEM... WHAT IS YOUR BRAND MODEL? Be sure to work with someone who ASK… can tell you, in plain English, exactly Draw a diagram of how you will You use the term __________? what his or her brand model is and explain what a brand is to our team. I’m not familiar with that. Is it widely how it is delivered. What exactly are the ideas contained known, or something you’ve created? in the diagram? Is there a more popular term for the same idea? If you don’t get it instantly, then say so and see if their explanation is If they use terminology that is not satisfying. on page 11, they may take a super- proprietary approach. That can Is this diagram your own invention? make it hard to transfer their work to If not, where did you find it? your team and other marketing and They may have learned it at a communication vendors. successful packaged goods company, from a leading agency or thought leader, or (gulp) from a PowerPoint template they found on the web. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 31
  32. 32. ASK THEM... WHAT ARE YOUR MAJOR MILESTONES? Be sure they connect the theory ASK THEM... AND ALSO... of their model/methodology to the How did you apply your brand model > What would the milestones tangible deliverables at the end of and milestones to two projects you be for this project? brand analysis, brand strategy, brand have completed? standards, or whatever stage of > What accomplishment does branding you are seeking to get done. Be wary about those who won’t each milestone represent? show you other client work. Their > How much time do I and our customers should be willing to allow internal team need to invest them to write case studies, or they towards each milestone? should have found a way to make a couple of generic case studies, or even without formal case studies they should be able to illustrate how they have used branding to specifically benefit a business. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 32
  33. 33. ASK THEM... WHAT’S DELIVERED BETWEEN THE MILESTONES? You must be able to get a clear VERY SPECIFICALLY… answer about what each milestone Ask to see a project plan from one of Also, ask to see sample entails, when it will be delivered, their projects. It is fine if they need to documents at each step. and in what format and environment. scrub out any client details. This will ensure your team navigates This might seem like a big ask, but the branding process with clarity and What you want to see is what the if they are organized and have done confidence, leading you to better deliverables are, how many document this enough times, it is easy to put outcomes. drafts lead to each deliverable, together. Again, if confidentiality is and how much time they give your an issue, indicate that you would be team to review their work. You also willing to see scrubbed documents in want to see how much is delivered, person. It is not the content that you discussed, done in person rather seek, (yours will be different) but it is than emailed or done via tele/web the form you need to see. conference. REMINDER The goal of these questions is to ensure your in-house resource or outside vendor isn’t selling you some Voodoo branding approach, nor one that is absurdly complex beyond your needs. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 33
  34. 34. ASK... WHO WILL DELIVER? Earlier in this eBook, we mentioned DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR… the risk of the old “bait and switch”. > The CVs or Linkedin profiles of Be sure you’re not tricked by the everyone who will be working on smooth talking top gun(s) impressing the project the heck out of you, only to discover > What they are responsible for later that a junior resource is doing working on, and delivering (not the the work. This trick doesn’t only same thing) happen with a vendor – it can also > Assurance that no other people apply to the internal resource who has will do said work without your someone else doing the heavy lifting. express permission BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 34
  35. 35. ASK... HOW WILL YOU LEVERAGE OUR TEAM? A brand is only as good as the VERY SPECIFICALLY ASK… team that delivers it. So it is > How important is the team to > Can you provide an example of how important to find out how your your process? you educate our team, customers, in-house or hired resource is going > What role do both immediate and and vendors about the changes to to leverage your team. extended brand stakeholders play the brand / the new brand. in your approach? > Will your brand deliverables dovetail > How much time do you require easily with the deliverables other per person, or as a group? vendors and departments are > What do you do if stakeholders have working upon? How? conflicting opinions about the brand? BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 35
  36. 36. ASK... (TRICK QUESTION) WHAT RETURN ON INVESTMENT CAN WE EXPECT WORKING WITH YOU? Frankly, very few people can Instead look for the person who says, The obvious answers will be an categorically prove the Return on “It is hard to measure the Return on increase in awareness, consideration, Investment of a branding project in a Investment of our work here, there sales, and loyalty. The more scientific manner. Branding has a lot were so many factors at play or things interesting ones will relate to the to do with ideas and intangibles. If we’re not privy too, but our clients benefits to you, and your team, in they are able to prove it categorically gave us great feedback on our efforts your efforts to succeed. then that is terrific. But most and they’d be happy to tell you about branding people aren’t working under the advantages of working with me/ the conditions that allow them to do our team.” so. It’s when these folks try and BS Ask Them... an answer that you should be wary… There will be more BS to come. > How will you specifically measure success from this project? > What will be the benefits our team, our brand, and our organization will experience? BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 36
  37. 37. ASK THEM... HOW SOCIABLE AND SCALABLE IS THEIR METHODOLOGY? Quality branding has always been Ask Them... Key Point about being relevant, compelling, > How will our team see their passion A person who takes the time to listen and unique. But with the boundaries reflected in the brand strategy? to the different voices in your team between customer, team, and vendors and to encourage exploration is able > How can the brand strategy be blurring thanks to technology, your to support the development of a applied by the team without outside business may also need a brand that clearer and more authentic brand experts - for instance, when a last is social and scalable. If that sounds strategy. This may require a simpler minute marketing opportunity like you, here are some additional approach to branding. Not to be comes up questions to help choose someone mistaken with “dumbing down”, this who will foster authentic engagement > Based on the brand model you approach uses simplicity to empower through brand development… (presumably) showed earlier, is it faster brand socialization and scaling. easy for any kind of team member It can help you turn the hours and to grasp and share the work, or does dollars you spent on brand strategy it require an “education program” into brand experiences that truly so that everyone both understands resonate with your target audience. and retains it? BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 37
  38. 38. Congratulations – you made it! You have arrived at the end of the road, ready to take on your branding challenges knowing where branding can go awry and how to avoid that costly fate. You have the tools in hand to select the right vendor and branding approach to develop a brand that truly reflects the personality and values of your team. If you haven’t already, please download the comparison spreadsheet we’ve created. Use it to YOUR FINAL DECISION evaluate your branding vendors or candidates. It includes the questions you should be asking anyone who will touch your brand, and it will help you choose the vendors or candidates who can deliver against best practices and fit your own culture and values. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD SPREADSHEET Now, go on out there and build a better brand. BRAND SCAMMED! How to avoid buying the wrong branding solution 38
  39. 39. PLEASE... BEFORE YOU GO... DON’T LET YOUR FRIENDS & COLLEAGUES GET BRAND SCAMMED. Please consider emailing them this eBook, or send them the link: As for you, we invite you to join the conversation on Twitter via @1day1brand, on our site blog at, or by email to Brand Scammed! How to Avoid Buying the Wrong Branding Solution by Axle Davids CEO, Distility,