In a previous life – many moons ago – I was a copywriter at a brand agency called Wolff Olins. They were fresh off delivering the visual identity for the London 2012 Olympic Games, so, bright-eyed and slightly terrified, I wandered into a world full of people who were masters of their craft – seemingly able to create world-class brands with ease after a couple of immersion sessions and a few late nights in front of a Mac.
But, as I would learn very quickly, the creation and governance of a brand is a complicated, nuanced business. And it becomes even more so the bigger an organisation gets. Founder Wally Olins puts it better than I ever could in his 2010 publication, The Brand Handbook:
"Branding embraces and is associated with marketing, design, product, internal and external communication and human resources. It becomes the channel through which the organisation presents itself to its various external worlds. It influences every part of the organisation – all the time, everywhere."
Looked at from the outside, a brand seems to consist of just a few elements – some colours, some typefaces, a logo, and a particular tone in which to write. But it goes much deeper than that. As Wally Olins says in The Brand Book, "Wherever a brand has a touchpoint – that is, an interaction with an audience – it needs to look, feel or behave like itself".
And as far as touchpoints go, Dojo has a lot.
Sure, we can say our websites have to look, sound and feel a certain way – we use them to acquire customers, after all – but our digital presence is really the tip of the iceberg when it comes to presenting Dojo externally.
Processing over £2 billion in transactions every month equals a lot of interactions with the Dojo brand – how does it make customers feel? Was the process slick? Was it simple? Did it feel like 'us'? Our army of brilliant PCs and CSAs converse with thousands of prospects and customers every week. Did those people come away thinking we're a brand they'll love being a part of?
More traditionally, does that Instagram post or email campaign summarise a complex proposition with a quick scan? Is it representative of what Dojo stands for? Does our advertorial content strike a chord and create cut-through in a super-competitive marketplace? Is the call-to-action on the website worded the same way as it is in the app?
I could go on, but you probably have a lunch break to enjoy.
The point is – and I'm sure this won't surprise you – a brand is much more complex than the sum of its seemingly simplistic elements. Everything and everyone a brand interacts with makes it what it is – so consistency of expression is key. Vital.
It helps build trust in what we do and how we behave, and that, in turn, builds advocacy for what we provide – ultimately, what we offer to the world from a commercial point of view. Think of it as another flywheel – but instead of hungry diners driving more transactions to our customers, it's consistency, relevance and impact driving advocacy for what we offer as a business. And on and on and on it goes. And that’s why brand is so important to what we do.
So next time you see your favourite brand out in the wild, try and see through the carefully considered wordmark and delicately nuanced colour palette, and try and understand what (and why) it means something to you.