Tuesday, 20 September 2011

O & A of branding

Observing and analysing are the two most important elements of building a brand

I am returning from a restaurant and lounge bar and before I forget the bits and pieces of my conversation with its owner, I must share this piece of knowledge on branding with you all. I now firmly believe on the “connecting dots” concept of Steve Jobs – during his speech at Stanford, he said that all past incidents are connected to each other and they have a certain meaning in your life. I met this wise man during a class of elementary French at Alliance Francaise. I didn’t know at that time that our friendship will lead to enhancing my learning on branding.

Bikram, the CEO of the restaurant and lounge bar, an education consultancy and an import and export business is nowhere in his early thirties. However, his eyes are like that of an old wise owl. He sees a pattern and cause in each of his observation. As one rightfully said that a designer sees a pattern in each nook and cranny, he analyses each and every incident and adapts the lessons learnt from those incidents in his daily life. That’s how he builds his brand.

Lesson 1 – Observe well. Like a designer viewing pattern out of the blue, you will get to know the reason behind any design. Take the case of Bikram – whenever he goes to any restaurant, he observes the milieu, food and service – and if he finds something special, he scripts them in his memory, so that later he can decode the secrets for his own use. He doesn’t even leave the nuances – the colour, light bulbs, cutlery, crockery, seating arrangement, menu, staff behaviour and even the way he is served.

Lesson 2 – Analyse well. If you analyse well, you will find the right reason behind any happening. Take the case of Bikram – whenever he finds a food too good at a restaurant, he has the habit of calling the chef – to say thank you for the good food and hand him some extra tips for tickling his taste buds. In doing so, he befriends the chef and gets to know a little bit of secret of the good cooking. One of his analysis that I would always remember is – you must not make the arms of sofa too wide – the reason being, not to let anybody sit on the arms. That’s a brilliant piece of analysis – if people start sitting on the arms of your sofa in the restaurant, you can imagine how long it will last.

Lesson 3 – Adapt well. If you adapt the good aspects of competitive brands, you will obviously be able to make your brand stand out among the plethora of other brands. Take case of Bikram – he is a superb adapter. Out of his observations and analysis, he has decorated the interiors of his restaurant with warm orange colour. He says, “Orange colour stimulates your appetite.” He has taken care to choose high quality cutlery, crockery, lighting, seating arrangement and well trained staff. Those are the results of the cues he had taken from his observations at the different food joints.

His observing and analysing skills have given an extra edge to his brand. His menu is full of foods that have something special in comparison to the same ones served in other restaurants. He has managed to build a team of highly qualified chefs with tasty hands (who can with the touch of their mere hands turn any food into delicacies). To my surprise some of them are the ones whom he had thanked earlier for the good food. I must describe his adapting expertise a further – he has managed to design tables similar to a restaurant in China, he has managed to summon a sofa maker who used to make sofas for the royals.

After talking about the O&A (observing and analysing) of branding, now I must talk about the human aspects of building brands. It’s crucial to maintain the camaraderie and spirit in your team. Otherwise the brand can crumble down any moment. Now let me take the case of Bikram once again – he has 27 staff and he never forgets to celebrate their birthdays with a blast. Out of 365 days, he keeps aside 27 days to make his staff think that they are the special ones at his restaurant. And this motivates his staff and his brand gets further momentum.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Brochure basics

Are you worried about producing a product brochure? Worry not – with a realistic plan and brainstorming with the relevant colleagues, you can come up with a compelling brochure that markets your product instantly.

The first and foremost thing you need to decide is the size and shape of the brochure. Depending on the content you have prepared, the size and shape varies. However, my advice is, go for the regular shapes. The awkward shapes and sizes not only make it cumbersome for the readers but also pull the hair out of the designer’s head.

However, the target audience remains the boss and you must be willing to change your design, shape and size of your marketing material as per their mindset. If kids are your target audience, they won’t go for voluminous texts. They would love to have their favourite cartoons and in their case, you can go for creative shapes – octagonal, hexagonal with sparse texts and lots of illustrations and pictures.

The font that you use determines the tone of voice of your brochure. I have seen people using Comic Sans MS font even in serious writing. I would recommend choosing the font as per the seriousness of your message. Verdana, Arial, Times New Roman, Garamond – all of these regular fonts carry seriousness with them. Calligraphic fonts like Lucida Calligraphy are widely used by the artists. The only advice from my side is, use the fonts as per your key message. Don’t use more than three different fonts in a single brochure.

Choosing the colour of the brochure is again yet another challenge. As you all know each colour has its own personality, you must be careful enough to match the personality of your reader with the colour that you are going to use in the brochure. The right colour makes your marketing message click in the minds of the consumers easily.

The images that you place along with your message should create a lethal combination to get your motive across. The images should be clear, forward facing and interacting with the audience. You can leave the headache of placement and adjustment to your designer. In case you are the designer, I would advice – don’t get taken away by any other designs, create your own design from the void. Have you heard? Some advertising agencies have empty rooms painted with perfect white to allow the creative guy to create something genuine out of nothing.

Now the content crunching – write and rewrite your message till you are satisfied with what you have written. Read aloud the paragraphs and sentences in your cubicle when you are alone – this will give you a fair idea of your mistakes and the tone of voice of your content.

And yes, start with a bang! The first few paragraphs should content all the 5Ws and 1H – i.e. let know the audience of what, why, where, when, which and how of your message. Don’t remember to make the starting sentence interesting – it’s an old trick of generating interest among the readers to read further. Then you can slowly start talking about the features and benefits of your product.

Remember not to put any jargons and bombastic words. You are not exhibiting your vocabulary power to the audience but you are trying to convince them, to make them buy your product. Keep in mind - not a single sentence should be out of order and every single paragraph should be linked to each other. This creates a wave of flowing words and sentences which arouses interest among the readers and eventually creates interest to purchase your products.

Pull quotes and testimonials are another way of highlighting your product or message in the brochure. If used properly, they alone can convince the readers. If the small box with the gist of your key message and call to action is well crafted, consumers will vie for your product without reading the whole brochure.

Slogan marketing still works and if you can come up with an interesting title, slogan and subtitles, it will not only organise your content well but will also make the read interesting.

Lastly, don’t forget to include a detail contact address at the end of your brochure. A URL of your website and contact mailing ID will make your brochure interactive. The interested customers will visit your website for detail information and even write to you about the product.

Go ahead and create your own product brochure!