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What is 'Total Immersion Branding'?

Investing in any brand transformation is an expensive and possibly disruptive exercise with many risks associated. Mistakes are costly and can, if not managed, set your business back months or even years. In this article, I explain why a ‘Total Immersion Branding’ approach throughout the transformation process is critical to success.

There is design, and there is strategic design. Let me make it clear from the outset, I believe in the later. It is so easy for anyone with a pen and paper to produce a design for anything, do a Google search and look for references and you’ll create something that looks pretty by piecing together elements from original work by other organisations. Do this and you will enjoy limited short-term success. Follow a strategic design path and you will build a crucial factor, high performance, into your offer.

Why is ‘Total Immersion Branding’ so important?

In any segment, where organisations offer similar products and services - like Banking, Telecommunications, Utilities and others, the only differentiators companies have over their competitors are brand and customer experience. Get these right and you win.

Before you start on any transformation, you have to understand what it is about your organisation that makes you different. What are your business goals and how are you going to occupy a unique territory in your customers minds. Before I start working on any brand transformation project, I speak to Senior Management in the companies I work with on a one to one basis confidentially. Some of the things I am looking to understand better are the organisations goals, what their capabilities are now and how will these change in the future, who are their customers and who will they be in the future etc... I benchmark businesses alongside others locally, regionally and internationally to understand where opportunities lie for development and innovation.

There are many, many factors to consider in taking a strategic approach to design, but what all of these do, is help to move decision making from the heart, to the head. In other words, decisions are informed and not guess work - the first element in ‘Total Immersion Branding’.

Add in a liberal dose of creative magic and the solution will begin to deliver the success you’re looking for.

By fully immersing yourself in a business, you can focus clearly on the specific outcomes that will deliver success through disciplined creativity the second element in ‘Total Immersion Branding’.

As all of you who read my blog will know, branding is not just about creating a pretty logo, it is all about creating a connected brand experience - this means your brand personality is consistent in all channels - on the web, in mobile, in print, in retail, in your behaviours, in your culture, in how you communicate, what you say and how you say it etc... By taking a strategic approach to developing transformative experiences, we are able to ensure every time your customer meets your brand, they recognise it, understand it and know how to get what they want from it. Thinking beyond one experience into all channels is the third element in ‘Total Immersion Branding’.

Building experiences is not a precise art and it is not until you actually ‘experience the experience’ that you will know if it is really going to work for your business. Here comes the crucial factor - always proto-type. So many of my clients pass on this option as they are concerned about the cost of making mock-ups. No matter how many times I tell them, not mocking up is being ‘penny wise and pound poor’ many insist it is not worth it - I disagree. Mock-ups are a great way to test a principle, to refine a customer journey or asses a merchandising system before you launch. This is the fourth element in ‘Total Immersion Branding’.

Once you have developed your new experience, it is important that it is applied consistently across your network. To do this, you have to develop rigorous brand guidelines that are stewarded by every individual in your organisation. These guidelines will define every aspect of your organisations brand, from the physical elements like the logo, signage, 3D elements, print and digital, to how you communicate and your culture. This will be your organisations brand bible - the fifth element in ‘Total Immersion Branding’.

Finally, for any brand experience to ‘live’, an organisation needs to steward the application of their brand experience. This means to ensure it is consistently applied and remains relevant to your customers and business. I recommend revisiting your brand experience and refining it every two years - not necessarily in total, possibly just small tweaks - this is the sixth element of ‘Total Immersion Branding’

In summary

I strongly recommend any organisation that is about to embark on a transformation of any kind follows the ‘Total Immersion Branding’ approach:

  • Strategic insight - to inform decisions

  • Disciplined creativity - to differentiate your brand experience from your competition

  • Think omni-channel - to consider how your brand experience will be crafted across all touch-points

  • Proto-typing - to test and fine tune your brand experience

  • Robust guidelines - to reference all elements of your brand experience

  • Stewardship - to manage, steward and evolve the implementation of all brand elements

If you would like to know more about Total Immersion Branding, please get in touch.

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