Does your brand represent what you do and how you do it? Does it represent your core values, ethos and principles? More importantly, does it raise your profile, create client consciousness and get people talking about you? Wouldn’t it be a bit easier if it did?
As Sugarcane closes in on it’s 10 year anniversary, the company can look back on the good times, difficult times, relationships coming and going, personnel coming and going, the high’s and the low’s of an ever changing business landscape. The one thing that has been consistent in all this time has been our brand, and the simple, clear message that we want it to communicate. Many years ago we purchased a modest 2 seater sofa from eBay and it’s primary function wasn’t just to brighten up the office. We decided that this sofa was to represent our ethos and principles, it was to become a visual metaphor for our brand. In simple terms we wanted our business to be about the relationships that we create with our customers over a long period of time. Sitting down with a coffee, chatting about business, creative projects and how to move forward together. This is what the Sugarcane sofa is all about, sitting down and communicating. Once we had established this key part of our brand we realised that the scope for promotional opportunities with the sofa could be endless. In terms of profiling Sugarcane and getting people talking about us, the Sugarcane sofa was and is, perfect. We suddenly had a brand that was mobile, visual, great at attracting attention and even better for gaining people’s curiosity.
In many ways, the sofa is a big icebreaker when we take it on location, people ask about the sofa first, ‘Why is it here? What’s all this about? etc. This gives us the opportunity to tell the story, the fact that we are a creative agency is an interesting subtext to the sofa and the stories of it’s travels. Whether it’s Silverstone racetrack, Sheffield Arena, Keepmoat Stadium, Tour de France, Angel of the North or Blackpool promenade, we are selling our brand without mentioning our services, which is very powerful. The simple message of the brand is also reinforced by asking our clients to give video testimonials on the sofa, as well as a general ‘sitting on the sofa’ shot. This also gives us lots to blog about and lots to communicate to all our contacts and to the wider business community.
A good example of how effective the sofa can be in generating interest, raising profile and getting people talking was realised at the recent filming of ‘Open All Hours’ in Balby. We took the sofa over a period of 3 days to the filming set, primarily to get a shot outside Arkwrights shop. Simply just placing the sofa in the street while we waited for a break in filming got the curiosity of the film crew and general public alike. So come the time when we could get on set, we had a whole host of people queuing to sit on the sofa and have a picture. The following day we were instantly recognised with the set designer quite insistent on having his picture on the sofa along with genuine blueprint drawings of the Open All Hours set. He told us that the crew had been talking about us the previous night after filming and wanted a piece of the action.
Back to the main point about knowing your brand. Do you have a visual metaphor for your brand? Something that can generate interest, keep you in the forefront of people’s thinking and actually do part of your job for you? It can be very powerful if done correctly and also can be a lot of fun. It’s definitely worth thinking about, but you need to know very clearly what brand message you want to communicate and be very consistent with that message.