Earlier in his career while working on the client side, Giannoulis was often required to keep brand messaging cohesive despite working with numerous agencies.
To keep the brand on point, he would invite all the partners to a meeting, during which they would discuss the key idea behind the brand, the desired brand outcomes and the roles everyone would play across the brand. It’s a tradition that worked so well on the client side that he carried it with him into creativeland and still employs it to this day.
“We like to have a regular review with our clients, and we’ll often get their partners into talk about the brand,” he says. “What we’re doing is looking at how we can apply the brand ethos consistently and to address any issues. It’s an opportunity for everyone to share what’s working and what’s not working. Often, you might find that the other agencies around the table are facing similar struggles. It’s in their interests as well to participate and share.”
Of course, there’s no guarantee of these meetings always going according to plan.
Agencies all have their own interests, and they all like to own the big idea. No one likes to execute someone else’s thinking. So to co- ordinate discussions and ensure that the best idea rather than the biggest ego determines the brand direction, Giannoulis recommends that marketers appoint a strategic brand agency to lead where the brand is going.
“This agency doesn’t necessarily have to do the work, but it needs to coordinate the process,” he says. “The responsibility of this agency is usually to ensure ideas work and that the different parties are contributing in the right places and in a consistent way.”
More than aesthetics on the surface, Giannoulis says that the key role of the lead strategic brand agency is to ensure the brand is delivering the right perceptions, behaviours and outcomes the company needs.
“People base a brand off their experiences with a brand, so what you build internally is the single most important thing about the process. Brands are always built from the inside out.”
Brands aren't made in books
Most organisations have a brand book, which clearly outlines the fundamentals of the brand. However, a neat list of characteristics included in a brief doesn’t guarantee cohesiveness when a brand is placed in the hands of your agency partners.
“People often fool themselves into thinking that they understand the brand, because they have the brand book, but all they understand is the rules, not the thinking behind it,” says Giannoulis.
“Usually the brand book is about the visual identity guidelines, but often they do not explain what a brand stands for and how it should make audiences think and feel.”
Quite often, these brand books are bequeathed from one marketing manager to the next, which means the original story and thinking behind the brand might become lost.
“Brands can get unstuck a few years down the track when new staff, who weren’t involved in the original conceptualisation, try to interpret what the brand stands for from vague guidelines in a book. Add to this, both they and their agencies trying to put their own spin on it.”
- Insight Creative is a branding and design agency with 40 years’ experience in developing and working with some of NZ’s best brands. They are a strategic creative agency, delivering big thinking and effective design - across both print and online mediums - that changes perceptions, drives behaviours and delivers results for their clients.
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This story is part of a content partnership with Insight Creative.