Brand planning for 2019: find space to figure out what’s next

brand planning for 2019

The dog days of August are a precious resource. Clients and team members are taking time off. The phone isn’t ringing quite as much. Some might rejoice in the peace and quiet. But for anyone who considers themselves a forward planner this is one of the best times of the year to chew the end of a pencil and have a bit of a think. How have things gone? Did that new year launch work out? Is the carefully-written, long-term business strategy at the bottom of a drawer still gathering dust? What’s next? Should we – big gulp! – be doing a spot of brand planning for 2019?

 

Where you’ve been, where you’re going

First up, if you’re currently focussed on an end-of-year marketing rollout, figuring out what comes after that could be faintly daunting.

By August there’s usually enough of a sense of whether this year is a hit, a miss or a maybe. As a result the Autumn is a chance to consolidate and advance successful programs and sideline those that just aren’t working. To build on unexpected masterstrokes and learn from mis-steps. So if things are more in ‘maybe’ than ‘hit’ territory, there are a lot of ‘what other levers can can we pull this year?’-type conversations that will need to take place in early September. We’re familiar with those emergency telephone calls for either a new branch of a website or some kind of shock-and-awe social media blitz.

Many businesses, particularly in leisure and hospitality, tend to know simply by looking at bookings and enquiries for the all-important fourth quarter where they stand. If diaries are already filling up, great. If not… then now is the moment to look across all channels, double down and push ahead with a more intense marketing plan.

 

Brand planning for 2019: where to begin

Short-termism is great as far as it goes. But I think it’s a much better idea to look beyond that. It’s my view that whatever position you’re in, now is a great chance raise your eyes and think about what comes after December. To figure out what sort of position you want to be midway through 2019.

It’s my view that all sorts of strategies can work. I’d suggest that short term plans can dovetail with a more ambitious long-term marketing push. Today’s quick fix can build up to tomorrow’s gradual roll-out. Now is a great time to start scheduling a few conversations around existing collateral and question if they are working as hard as they could be. I take the view that there are no ‘sacred cows’… other than long-term business relationships.

I’ve titled this post ‘find space to figure out what’s next’ because it’s my view that the best high level planning ensures you moved beyond the quick fix I’ve mentioned to a place where the brand you’re working on has really built a consistent impetus to deliver enduring success.

 

What’s working? The art of the quiet refresh

In an interview featured in this September’s issue of British Vogue, Sarah Burton, Creative Director of Alexander McQueen, talks about her ethos and explains – ‘you can be dominant in a quiet way’. I love this way of thinking. Translated into my ‘design world’ this means an approach to creativity where a gradual, consistent visual renewal can build on a pre-existing brand ethos without fanfare and noisy relaunch.

Earlier this year we worked with London’s Bulgari Hotel to create a standalone website for their HR department. The very definition of a ‘gradual refresh’ that felt quietly radical, the design of the site is developed on Bulgari’s ‘informal yet impeccable’ brand values. In this instance, the new elements we added to the mix were parallax programming and minimal information graphics. These tools combined avoided endless copy and visual clutter to get across as much information across as we could.

I was keen that the design of the project retained all the brand elements that when used together are recognisable to Bulgari’s clientele worldwide. However as an HR portal, this project isn’t customer-facing, but rather aimed at potential employees. It was my feeling that implementing the brand well here was just as important as it would be to hotel customers. It’s essential that the hotel’s staff espouse the brand essence.

I see such an approach as relevant to any brand adding new collateral to their suite of marketing materials. When the channels a brand uses shift in content and audience, we can ensure the overall tone remains consistent.

luxury hotel web design

Our website for the Bulgari Hotel London
Contact us to collaborate on your brand planning for 2019

 

Getting radical. Reboot without losing your mind

For every subtle approach, there’s a much-needed sledgehammer.

Signing the papers on a merger?
CEO briefing in a mega rebrand?
Tired old branding that just needs a total clean sweep?

Pass the broom!

Radical renewal is daunting: plan first. We would suggest working backwards and figuring out how long a project like that is realistically going to take. I get that there’s a mountain to climb, but equally biting off more than you can chew isn’t the best way to attack a project of this scale. This is where my central theme of ‘finding space’ comes in. By methodically assessing the different strands your megaproject are going to involve and working backwards, immediately you can devise a launch point.

That’s one way of doing it. Invariably life isn’t quite that convenient – the date is usually set for, not by you. There’s no other way: everything has to work around that date. In fact in some ways this is easier as a deadline will tend to offer practical constraints on time and resources that your team and management can rally behind.

We worked on two projects of this kind this Spring. One was a ‘mega rebrand’, the other a total identity redesign around a merger. Comparing the two as a practical exercise is quite interesting – in fact both projects followed similar creative approaches. The differences came in terms of deliverables. The finished output on the rebrand was a vast increase in scope of work and marketing, while the merger was more ‘like for like’.

new legal brand design

new legal brand design

New branding and website design for Freedman+Hilmi
Contact us to collaborate on your brand planning for 2019

 

We launched the Freedman+Hilmi brand within three months of our initial briefing meeting. A legal merger combined with an ambitious office move in central London meant there were many variables, but a fixed launch date had to tie in with the new company agreement signing. We stuck to our brief and delivered a new, very graphic, brand identity which appeared on office signage, rebooted website and a wide array of brand collateral such as stationery, security lanyards and so on.

new media brand design

new media brand design

New branding and website design for Northbank Talent Management
Contact us to collaborate on your brand planning for 2019

 

Meanwhile Northbank Talent Management was a bird of a different feather. A completely brand relaunch of a long-standing literary agency, we worked in secret on the project for six months. The brief had two primary strategies – a totally new look for the brand design and a website which expanded their previous online presence by 300%. Launched overnight at the end of May to a huge PR fanfare, this project has been one of the most ambitious we’ve worked on in recent years.

The Freedman+Hilmi project was ambitious for sure but contained and manageable. It was delivered to deadline without incident deploying an unfussy work ethic. Our work for Northbank was bold and ambitious, a radical reboot intended to cause a stir. But at the end of the day it too was finished without drama and to great success because of the careful planning that had been set out months before.

Calmly, thoughtfully, on a quiet day in August…

 

 

Think one step ahead: book a meeting to plan next year’s strategy now

My team and I would welcome a meeting with you to plan your brand strategy for the coming year – email me direct or give our office a call on 020 7351 4083.

Please take a look at our work across various sectors below;

Our work for charities

Our work for financial services businesses

Our work for the legal sector

Our work for luxury hotels