If you have not heard much about brand coaching up until now, it would not be surprising.
I have been a brand consultant for many years, working with many companies and implementing many new brand and communication strategies. In the past, companies and managing directors were in a hurry to outsource their identity and branding needs – let the experts do it, they would say.
That was fine by me!
Today, however, the world looks very different. Business is different. And the way people look at their business needs has changed dramatically. Today CEOs, startup managers, entrepreneurs, and marketing graduates have all had a taste of the freedom of self-help.
Companies no longer need the Greys and the McCanns to take their watches and tell them the time. The time of Big Advertising and Big Marketing is rapidly fading. A smart company owner today is looking to develop the talent she has around her, and teach young staff how to channel their energies in the areas vital to the survival of a business. These are:
Whether it is a product or a service, these things are always true. The Product or Service is first. But immediately after you know what kind of object it is (shoe, car, cookies), the next question is about who it is (Nike, Mustang, Oreos).
Once upon a time, company owners would turn to big-box marketing and advertising agencies and ask them what to do. They would ask me and my agency, for example, to create and implement a brand, brand strategy, and deploy brand communications campaigns on their behalf. And we did a pretty good job for most of them, most of the time.
But today they know more.
Today, a company owner knows a lot more about the necessity and importance of branding. He or she might even have specific training in certain aspects of branding. Today they don’t need me to do the work for them.
They need me for another reason.
What’s a Brand Coach
Quite simply, a Brand Coach is a professional with a lot of experience of brands, companies, and the challenges inherent in branding. A Brand Coach places all this accumulated knowledge and experience (and maybe a dash of wisdom too) at your disposal, helping you understand better what you want and what you need from a brand.
A Brand Coach is not there to tell you what to do or to try to tell you what have done wrong. On the contrary, a Brand Coach is there as a guide, a sounding board, an advisor, and a friend. A branding coach can help you think about –
- Retooling an existing brand
- Launching a new brand
- Considering changes in a brand
- Deciding if watermelon pink is better than avocado green
- Working through names
- Dreaming up the stories
- Bringing all the elements together
Who to Choose?
A branding coach is not something you grab off the shelf like a pack of potato chips. The very nature of the relationship that you will want with a branding coach is quite personal and should be as private and confidential as your relationship with your doctor.
When you are looking for a branding coach, look at their client lists, look at what they write and how they talk. You should be able to feel comfortable and relaxed with them, and you will learn a lot from their writing style and substance.
If someone asks me how I could possibly be qualified to coach someone with their branding, I always tell them that I am not! It is true that I have worked with many brands in my career, either directly as an employee or as an outside consultant. I have worked with businesses all over Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, across Asia, and in the US. All true.
But it is not about me – it is about you and your brand.
When you choose a coach, you need to feel they understand you and that you can trust them. There will be a getting-to-know-you learning curve at the beginning, but it should be clear to you fairly quickly. It is a feeling.
In these many years working in sales and communications, I have seen what works and what fails. I have seen hugely successful companies dwindle to insignificance when they could not see changes coming, when they could not adapt.
The difference between a successful business and the also-rans very often comes down to how well the company owners understand who and what their brand really is and how ready they are to allow it to grow.
A good branding coach should be able to help you look down the road and see what is coming, because they’ve been on that road before.
What does a Brand Coach Do?
Let’s say you have an idea about a new brand, or maybe you want to change the one you have. You work for a company whose image and brand are old and tarnished. Or maybe you are launching an exciting new startup.
In all of these cases, a Brand Coach will support you, help you understand your brand’s personality and character, and see clearly what messages it needs to convey. But the Brand Coach has more resources than that. They should help you look at many aspects of your business – the target audience, the USP, the competition – everything that you need to think about for your undertaking, your Brand Coach will provide counsel and insight.
A Brand Coach can assist in:
- Product branding
- Service branding
- Personal branding
- B2B branding
- Location branding
- Company branding
- Cattle branding
Although I haven’t branded any cattle since 1867, the rest of it is very familiar to me.
Branding is all about identity, and I will be there with you to uncover and reveal the identity of your brand so that it will work its magic for you. The process is one of discovery, but it is also very creative. After discussion and thought, you may find that the brand you need might be very different from your original idea.
Again, the Brand Coach’s job is not to tell you any of that. Their job is to help shape your thinking about it and provide the benefit of experience and perspicacity.
It’s your brand after all, but it is good to be able to talk it through with someone who knows.
Are you considering a new brand or making changes to the one you have?
Get in touch with me today and get a free evaluation of your needs.