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Reduce subjectivity through core values

Here at Dupree, we have a brand development process that we refer to as ‘an inclusive journey’ that helps us to clarify a brand narrative for customers - that unique, authentic, and irresistible story that starts to help us formulate the face of a brand. We then work on how we’re going to communicate that to people, usually through an assortment of media channels.

During that process, we try to instil the importance of making sure all the key stakeholders in the business are present each and every step of the way. Unless everyone’s onboard at the beginning, they’re not going to understand how we ever got to the point in time when we unveil what the brand looks like, what we’re saying about it, and how we’re going to broadcast it.

We have successfully managed, over many years, to take away all the subjectivity when presenting brand development and strategy solution that is so commonplace in this industry. It’s taken a lot of work to get to this point which is surprising when you think about it - after all, why do marketing companies normally present back three options for logos, straplines, and tone of voice to customers? - surely, if we’re striving to tell the truth about a brand, then there can only be one solution. If you think about a brand as a person, you couldn’t possibly claim that there were three true stories that person. It seems pretty obvious that, for a brand to be desirable but stand up to scrutiny, then the only single solution that should be the presented is the true one - otherwise, customers are very quick to lose their trust in a brand if it doesn’t live up to the claims that it makes.

The reason this happens is that marketing companies and design studios often don’t have the skills to ask the right questions, don’t have the right processes, or understand branding well enough. In these cases, subjectivity is bound to creep in because nobody really gets to the bottom of what the truth actually is. I’ve been in presentations when marketeers may as well have been holding up three rolls of wallpaper and asking a management team of ten which one they preferred!

So how do we begin deciding what the brand claims should be and where do they originate from? Core values. Many companies have gone through a process of writing down and agreeing upon a list of core values but without having the right people involved or a process of making sure those values are right, the process can be a wasted effort. Most importantly, the key stakeholders need to understand exactly what those chosen values mean collectively and agree that they can actually live up to them because they are all promises that the brand will be making if used correctly.

It is common that core values will be typed up, circulated, and then filed away in a drawer where they’ll stay forever more or until they’re discovered three years later after the paper has turned a shade of light brown. With the correct process, these values should be categorised into features and benefits about the brand along with a tone of voice - and proposition. They can also help to nail down exactly what it’s purpose is the result of what the brand actually is all about and the process of how it achieves a solution for its customers. Once that hard work is finalised and agreed with the stakeholders, the job of deciding upon how to communicate the brand to its target audiences can begin and a media plan can be created and not until.

To summarise, spending time establishing the core values of a brand is the most important process on your journey to establishing a brand that people will want to have a relationship with.

Explore our brand development work: click here.

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