BEING A BRAND GUARDIAN

Are you concerned about how your Brand is being executed? Of course you are. After all, your Brand is the core of your existence as a professional operator within your niche. The question actually should be: ‘Is your Brand safeguarded?’. 

WHAT IS A BRAND GUARDIAN

Even though I had a very good understanding of the role it became even more clear once I read Andrew Vesey’s post in Brand Quarterly. In todays very busy digital market (in particular) it is imperative to make sure your Brand is in line at all times with what your company stands for. This is where a Guardian steps in to make sure all aspects of your Brand are consistent wherever it is represented.

There is no need to stress how tough the competition is out there.  So you better make sure you’re protected. After all, you have insurance for your family, home and even business - why not for your Brand?

WHO NEEDS A BRAND GUARDIAN

In general, companies or SMEs and even individuals are so focussed on starting up and/or running a business that something like their Branding can easily be jeopardised. Therefore your Brand needs to be looked after properly.  Not because you don’t want to do that, but because there are usually a million and one other things that need your attention constantly. 

Take for instance your next upcoming marketing campaign… You most likely are outsourcing all creative elements. Or even if you’re relying on your internal marketing team there will be an element of mishaps or misunderstandings due to the amount of people working on your project. It’s here where you are in need of a Brand Guardian.

WHAT WILL A BRAND GUARDIAN DO

It is someone that will be able to oversee and guide all those involved in your campaign to stay within the parameters of your Brand. To make sure that there is consistency whenever aspects like your logo, your colours, your company’s mission statement, etc. is being used. The importance of stability across a campaign cannot be stressed enough. Your audience needs to able to recognise your Brand at all times.

A Brand Guardian will take care of all visual requirements. Many times external agencies you use undergo changes and even internal teams/freelancers could steer away from being in line purely because of the workload they are expected to deliver. Taking on board a Guardian eliminates this once and for all.

CONSLUSION

What makes an exceptional Brand Guardian, you may ask. Speaking from experience, first and foremost it is the value that will be brought to your table. This is comprised out of: 

  • putting oneself in the client’s shoes

  • extraordinary eye for detail

  • positive frame of mind

  • proven outstanding management skills

  • delivers successful end results

Followed closely by: a high level of effective Solutions to fulfil your expectations, being known for a People’s Person to make sure everybody is up-to-date with the latest developments, creating you a Brand Book with guidelines and instructions.  Ultimately, someone to Enhance and Secure your Brand. 

From knowledge, being at hand as a Guardian has been proven to cause much more help than hinder.  As a mentor and coach many opportunities have risen to assist, help and guide clients to have a consistent Brand. The strong believe here is that your Brand should be fully in order whenever you step out into the world

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or can relate to this post. 

You can reach me here, and on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

And most of all… Thank You for reading. 

LET’S DO IT LIVE

Ever felt like extending your brand? There are many ways to enhance your professional identity. One way in particular is to lend a hand at Live Events. There is something very exciting about events. Most probably because when it all kicks off it is Live. From then until the end anything can happen. Of course fingers are crossed all along for everything to go as planned without any gremlins jumping in and course havoc.

Very recently the opportunity came about to assist with a Charity Ball in London. Without a nano second of hesitation it was agreed to add the brand development touch to this event.

THE VENUE

The location was in one of London’s superb landmarks: The Savoy Hotel on the North Bank of the Thames River. With areas like Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square a stone throw away it basically is in the heart of London.

This venue is nothing new since a fair amount of events have been arranged and/or attended there in the past. However, it is always great to step into the splendour of this establishment. From the exterior through the revolving doors into the plush interior one feels almost elevated. There is the feeling of being transferred into another world even if it means the world you step into is that of the rich and famous. Walls are plastered with stunning black and white photographs of legends like film stars and politicians. These date back decades. Just an indication that this iconic venue has seen it all. And will most certainly see more in the times to come.

THE SET UP

The hotel’s Ball Room was the chosen area for the night. It all started early in the morning with equipment arriving and crews starting to set up. There was going to be a live show with famous talent at the end of the evening. Quite a bunch of very friendly, professional and organised people started to set up the stage, plug this that and the other cables into big, electronic machinery. Microphones were being set up, tested and adjusted. Instruments were placed in precise spots on the stage and before you know it the stage was set. The only missing ingredients were musicians, backing vocals and of course the star of the show.

Setting up the entertainment side of the event is obviously only one part of the day’s procedures. While that was happening a total of 32 round tables were being prepared. Each will hold 10 guests which needed every possible piece of cutlery, crockery and glasses. Sparkling white, starched table cloths and napkins were placed perfectly and was accompanied by buffed silverware, glassware and shiny porcelain. There is always the need for a centre piece - and for this event there was no exception.  Flower arrangements were going to be the pièce de résistance on the night. Nothing outrageous and too big, but elegant enough to make an impact and still let guests see each other across the table and talk the night away. Obviously the colour scheme of the charity's brand was extended into the chosen flora. 

Behind the scenes, or more appropriately called The Kitchen, chefs and staff were busy with preparations for a delightful meal. There was a lot of chopping, stirring and trays going in and coming out of ovens. The activities were in full swing to feed a few hundred people. The menu was tasted and agreed on before hand so all that was left to do is prepare and eventually serve up. 

THE EVENT

Before you knew it, the doors opened to welcome elegant guests. Men in Black Tie and women sporting Ball Gowns were order of the night. Soon the room was filled with people, laughter and a great atmosphere. The serious side of the night, an auction, was taking place in between the servings of delicious food. The main point of the event was to raise money for the charity. Left, right and centre people dug deep into their wallets and a phenomenal amount of money was raised. Once the singer/songwriter performed his last song while all the guests were standing and dancing, it was revealed that the immediate amount raised extended well into 6 figures. All in all a major successful evening. 

AND THEN... GOOD NIGHT

Not bad for a day’s work. Fairly exhausted, but happy, one flops down on a plush hotel room bed in the early hours of the morning.  A good night’s sleep is now on the cards. Nothing is more exciting knowing that once again the client is happy. Not only with the amount of money raised, but with the execution of their event too. 

Back home, it’s time now to write that follow up email. Perhaps the reply will include another date for another event… fingers crossed.

 

THEY HAVE THEIR MOMENTS

Have you ever struggled to deal with the backbone of your business? Referring to none other than your clients. Those who keep your business alive - and kicking. 

To say they can be fickle is an understatement. As we all know, they want, they need and they command. Most of all, they make what your business is and stands for. Therefore, without a doubt, it is the most important relationship you can cultivate. 

THE FIRST IMPRESSION

Everything has a beginning. There is the moment in time where you spot that particular person. You lock eyes. Perhaps a faint smile and then boom a move is made. Yes, forming a relationship with a new client is like anticipating to date that special person. However, the client relationship is platonic. Obviously. No hanky-panky is on the cards. Well, not the physical type anyway. 

To woe a newcomer to your business is a tricky situation. You need to tread carefully not to overstep the mark or step on some toes. First impressions always count the most. Hence being on your best behaviour is a must. Be prepared and ready. Remember, your brand is not only what your business provide, it also is who and what you are. In other words, you definitely have to look the part. You are an extension of your company’s brand. Show it. Make it work. And let your confidence speaks loudly. After all, you’re about to take the first step and make a move.

THE COURTING

It is essential to adopt a strategy whereas you see the situation from their point of view. To put yourself in the clients’ shoes is critical. Only then you can visualise what is possible. This part is not easy and demand practice. The more you set out to figure out how to deal with the situation the better you will get at it. Like personal relationships, the successful business relationship takes effort and careful planning. To dive right in does occasionally work for some, however to take the slow approach is guaranteed to bring longterm satisfaction. Just like there is little need to be over tactful during a personal date, likewise should be implemented with clients. Remember, this is your first time together so use your time wisely. Listen and learn. Make the meeting a 2-way conversation. It is important to collect as much info from your client (regarding their company and needs) since it may be the only moment you get to impress them.

THE NEXT MOVE

Once you have a client hooked on you, the time has come to put your money where you mouth is. Time to present and show them what you are made of. Still not necessary to go over the top with your achievements, but certainly time to make sure the client realises they are in trusted company. Convince them they are in good, safe hands. Build on what you learned about them so far. This will show them that you took note of their needs and what they want to achieve. Remember the bit about seeing it from their point of view - not only is this important now, it will be relevant throughout the time spend together. 

To accept the need for compromise will make the meeting so much more effective. Yes, the client is talking to you as they are in need of help and guidance. However, it is important to remember that it’s not about you and what you really want. Your desires and plans can come to life, but only with support from them. The best way to achieve this is by putting value on the table first and foremost. Once they can see and believe you intentions are genuine you stand a good chance of successfully let them eat out of your hand.

THE LONGTERM PLAN

Now that the ball is in your court, play it well. Be the gentleman in the relationship. Show passion and respect. Be forceful within reason. It is still early days and you have to be on your guard. To assume it’s plain sailing from now on is dangerous. One small step in the wrong direction and it’s all over and done with. You may think that they’re loosing out - trust me, the only one really loosing is you. Clients have the knack of moving on very swiftly. There is a long line of people behind you so they can easily turn to the next possibility. Remember, they are fickle. And most of the time high maintenance. Don’t be scared by this. So far so good. Just don’t mess it up right now.

Your attitude should be that of in it for the long haul. There is a very satisfying aspect to clients that came on board and then come back again and again. This kind of situation is great since they will keep you on your toes at all times. You will have to step up your game and provide new and fresh ideas for each project that follows. In the long run this will only be good for both your business and you - the complete brand package you live by. Visualise the big picture and broaden your horizon. Now is not the time to be small and narrow minded. 

THE CONCLUSION

To obtain a special relationship is exactly that: special. Even if you’re still within the first project and therefore within the honeymoon period, there is a strong possibility that prospects are looking up. The time has come to cement the trust and believe you have in each other. It is here where the hard work starts. Now is the time to build on the foundation you’ve laid within the first few days/weeks. Make sure that all the conversations weren’t a waste of time. You have made true promises. You need to deliver and stand tall. Don’t fall prey to what so many businesses do - they go stale. There is no need to end the relationship. In other words, to call it a day. That will be far too easy. So for those who enjoy a challenge and are up for it, go for it. Show your commitment and the thirst you have to build a satisfying marriage. Many people will believe that opportunities are far and few in between. Rightly so too. Therefore take the bull by the horns and keep going. 

If coaching and mentoring is what you need help with to deal with your client relationships, get in touch. What have you got to loose? On second thoughts, don’t answer that. Let’s rather talk and figure out how we can together solve any issues you have.  Solutions are on hand. 

STAND AND DELIVER

What will you do with a given opportunity for your business? Let it slip by or grab it with both hands? The latter obviously is what one should go for. But do you have it in you to take to the stage and speak publicly?

The Invitation

Attending networking events has become a regular especially since the local area is fairly new. It’s the perfect platform to meet likeminded people that share the same passion as oneself for business. Needless to say that when the invite came through to speak at an event via the first email opened on a Monday morning, it was a no-brainer to reply with an affirmative yes

Don’t you find that kind of thing very daunting? was the response from some close friends. To be honest, perhaps because one’s mindset is different from the norm, it is not a scary thing at all. Actually, their is a huge feeling of satisfaction to share publicly one’s knowledge and approach to one of the loves of life which is that of being an entrepreneur. 

The Prep

Establish first off from the organiser what is required, where and when you should be ready for action. Once the practicalities are out of the way the time has come to put on that thinking-cap and get some thoughts together. 

Deciding on the topic/s can be tricky depending on if it’s been covered before or if there are so many aspects to cover that there will not be enough time.  Pinning down some ideas take a bit of time, but in the end the motto keep it short and sweet prevails and the framework for the talk is done. All that is needed now is to put some meat on those bones and you’re almost there. Next up is to create some visuals to accomplish your talk and most of the hard work is in hand.

The Rehearsal(s)

There is the notion that you should follow the rule rehearse rehearse rehearse and that is good. However, there is also the notion that to over rehearse can kill some very important aspects of public speaking: authenticity and energy. Of course it is great to talk to an audience without any notes in hand, but rather have some pointers with you to refer to than ramble on and deliver a bunch of words without any passion. If there are a few days at hand before going live it’s good to have a run-through once a day. Obviously if time is not on your hands, more effort is needed as often as possible. 

The Time Has Come

Before you know it the moment has arrived and you are introduced to your audience. Some adrenalin usually kicks in and the flutter of butterflies in your stomach is a good omen. After all, you are about to show people what you know and what you’re made of. This is here where those rehearsals will come very handy. You will portrait confidence and come across knowledgeable giving your audience a treat. Thus having your ducks in a row will only be a great part of your talk. 

Prior to taking to the stage it is always a great idea to check and double check the available technology. Nothing is more disappointing than a failing monitor or presentation slides jumping all over the screen and even the hand remote behaving badly. It is common for these hiccups, and depending on the formality of the event an audience will accept and smile as they have seen it all before. From a speaker’s point of view, it can easily rattle your rhythm and throw you off guard. Best to make 100% sure gremlins are removed from all devices so you can get on with the most important part which is delivering information well.

Time usually flies by and in public speaking this can go by even faster. Sooner than you think you will receive a signal from the organiser at the back of the room that it’s time to wrap it up. Fingers crossed at this moment you have covered your main topics and are ready for the Q&A that usually follows.

The Aftermath

Done and dusted. Applause and perhaps even a shout out/whistle here and there. Some greets with audience members and a well deserved coffee (or something stronger if you prefer) to sooth your dry throat. Pat yourself on the back. Well done to you!

The Lesson

Yes, it all sounds very easy, you say. Maybe you can’t comprehend how someone can take a stance and talk out loud with lots of people watching and listening. ‘I’ll never be able to do that’ is often a common thought. Honestly, you CAN do it. It may take time and even some media training, but it is not impossible.

The one thing that cannot be stressed enough is to NOT let the moment and opportunity go by because you feel it is not your kind of thing. At the end of the day it is your Brand up there and it is part and parcel of building and growing it. Please note that not all members of the audience will be neccasarily appreciative of what you said since there will always be haters around. Don’t let it throw you off track. Stand tall. Deliver. And most of all grow within yourself. 

What is the aim in all of this? For people to remember Your Brand Once You’ve Left The Room