All Posts in News

26th July 2022

Brand: Sound and Vision

Multi-sensory dimensions

There are precise sounds to the platforms and the tools we use every day, the whoosh of the sent email. The incoming ping. The click of the lock on your smartphone. These sounds are carefully created to reach right into the core of your consciousness to embed themselves as signals of activity that demand your attention. And they work– ‘Drop everything’. ‘Pay attention’. ‘Look over here’.

Like all things, the good and the catchy ones stay with you, and the intrusive or alarming ones fail or flounder. Remember the depth charge on the BlackBerry… indeed what happened to BlackBerry?

But what if we went further than the functionality alone. We can explore how a brand might sound. We know what it looks like, even how it animates, moves, and speaks when scrolling through a webpage or listening to a podcast. But what might a brand feel like to the touch? What might it smell like if we were to visit? What might it be if it were item of clothing?

As we move away from business cards and books, what is the opportunity for the remaining pieces of tactile collateral? Can it play a part in a wider role?

The 'new' office 

There is an opportunity for the office to be more special and for the objects around you at home (that relate to your work) to be more representative of your brand.  Coolly minimalist, white and steel interiors. 'Oh, you must work for Apple'. Wood and bamboo? 'Are you with Aesop or Hermes or LVMH?'  What might laser-cut recycled metal or 3-D printed objects say? Maybe you’re in manufacturing, in F1, or you’re interested in tech and work for a SaaS.

And about the objects that surround you. What are their codes? Oxygenating plants, we’re a lifestyle business. Books, we’re thinkers. LP’s, we’re in media. Old computer’s, we love tech. What do these treasures at the back of your video call say about you, how you want to be perceived and the kind of person you are. They all matter.

And how might your brand smell? We know of a famous designer who won a contract for a luxury hotel not by adding more rooms or a swimming pool in the basement, but by creating a fragrance for the whole chain. Genius. So, when, on the (rare) occasion, someone visits your office for an actual meeting, think about how to make it memorable. What might the scent in the meeting room be. Is it bespoke? Did you commission it?

And think about the spaces you occupy too. Build an office around a kitchen. What kind of coffee. What handwash in the bathroom. Fruit or candy. Free bagels or free croissants. Have a library. What kind of books? All these choices send signals about who you are. What company you keep. How you behave and what you will be like to work with?

Ties or no ties. Trainers and sweatshirts or shirtsleeves and loafers. It all matters, especially as the war for talent hots up. So, next time you think about your brand, add a physical and multi-sensory expression dimension.

Beyond the brand

Take a moment to think about the brand you are and the brand you want to be. And stretch that idea of brand beyond the channels of social media and emailers (important though they are) to think about the tangible perception you want to leave behind. Premium brands do. Maybe now, in this time of new normal, it’s time for every brand to think about the impression it wants to make beyond both visual and verbal expression.

Let’s be remembered for every aspect, across every touchpoint.

 

Written by: Jesse Swash, Co-Founder.

12th July 2022

Structure Summit 2022

There has been much discussion about what the return to work might look like post lockdown and following the call from the PM to get back to work–where he said people are “more productive, more energetic, more full of ideas [sic], when they are surrounded by other people”.

Having read the many articles written on the subject, there is somewhat of a divided opinion on how companies might manage the move back to the office. Some are enforcing a return to the office full-time, while others are embracing a remote workforce. Some companies are considering a four-day working week. So, the outcome of the current six-month pilot of 70 UK companies and 3,300 employees will be very interesting for many–something that felt like an unlikely concept just a few years ago.

The variation in how to work has been a huge topic of conversation for both the media and employers alike. And for companies who are open to having a discussion, and trying new ways of working, there will be benefits and challenges for both parties. For those who have chosen the path of remote working, or a hybrid model, the question remains, how do you maintain a sense of belonging, connection, and culture if people are not in the same place?

Design by Structure has faced those same challenges as a business. How we work changed during lockdown - that is tough for a creative business. We had just moved into our new office in Shoreditch a few weeks before the first lockdown, but like everyone else, we had to embrace the change. During the two-years of lockdown, we managed to thrive and grow, and we didn’t make redundancies or furlough anyone, in fact, we made some new hires to build our team.

The easing of restrictions and end of lockdown saw some of our team members jump straight into returning to the office, while others have been understandably more cautious. But the one thing we all agree on is that some of our best work comes when we are connected. For us at Structure, our sense of togetherness and team culture is so important. So, we decided to practice what we preach, embrace the new opportunities that remote working brings, and moved the whole office from Shoreditch to Seville for a week as part of our rewards programme for the year. If we could make it work from our homes, why not in another city!

Jetting to Seville

So, we set up our base in a co-working space (air-conditioned to the max) in the heart of sunny Seville and it was business as usual.

The benefits of this work trip were incredible, we got to see a city not from a tourist perspective but from working and being part of the city's working rhythm, such as the siestas shut down or grabbing lunch as locals do (we became big fans of empanadilla's). We stayed in accommodation dotted around the city so everyone could have their own experience of the city and working life.

Jamón everywhere!

This working week in Seville was about us, it gave us the chance for immersive in-person work sessions, setting aside time to get out of the day-to-day and discuss as a team the year ahead, opportunities to develop the business and workshops to chat through bigger and more long-term challenges and come to solutions. Our clients have been really supportive of our working trip, and we have noted that two of them are doing the same, so maybe we are part of a new movement?

As a creative business, it was incredible to be able to explore the creative culture the city has to offer–to inspire our creative process. In the evenings we dined out on some spectacular food and finished our Summit at one of Seville's most beautiful hotels with a company dinner.

As a branding agency, we discuss with our clients the importance of nurturing their brands, to think of them outside of simply the identity, but as something that adds value to their business. And so too, you must nurture and care for your team, the people who help you to build that brand and drive its success.

So, now we are talking about making our ‘Structure Summit’ an annual event, to recognise the value our team brings to the business and bring everyone together regularly in new ways and different cities – this allows us to ensure that recognition is truly lived and not just spoken about.

Dining at the Hotel Alfonso XIII

Was the trip a success for the business? Yes, it was, we bonded as a team and continued to deliver our client work. It was a fantastic experience for us as a team but also for us personally.

Finally, Seville is called the frying pan of Spain, and we now know why...we certainly could have done without the daily 40+-degree heat!!!

 

Walking the famous Seville mushrooms!

21st April 2022

Branding 101: New series

BRANDING 101:
- The C-suite’s Guide to Brand Transformation -

Is your brand holding you back?

What makes your business successful? Maybe you have disruptive or highly competitive products. Persuasive and productive teams. Visionary and missionary leadership. 

Such virtues can help propel a company onwards and upwards. But some founders and CEOs of successful businesses will find that the engine sometimes runs out of steam: the charm, tenacity and innovation that once fuelled growth and managed momentum no longer makes the same impact.

In a world where change is the only constant, it pays for astute business leaders and C-suite execs to take a reality check and change their perspective on how their business comes across.

If your customers, teams, and partners all have different understandings of your company – and if you struggle to articulate your value and justify your relevance to your market – then you might just find that your brand could be the very thing holding you back. 

That’s when it’s time to change.

Recognising pivotal moments

As businesses thrive, they become more and more visible. More people discover what your brand offers, what it looks like and what you have to say (that’s different to or distinct from your competitors). 

So, when key elements of your brand – such as the story, proposition, and perceived image – aren’t joined up effectively and don’t reflect the truth of the business, any inconsistency, friction or lack that your brand expresses turns off potential prospects. 

This applies to every business or organisation, whether a hot new start-up or an established market leader. Leaders must recognise when their brand doesn’t match reality and can no longer support objectives. Business strategy and brand strategy must align so that any change you communicate makes sense to everyone – in your organisation and outside of it.

This is especially true when businesses reach pivotal moments in their journey: expanding into a new market, undergoing a merger or acquisition, transforming from start-up to scaleup, readying to sell or buy, and even selling new products or the same products in a different way. 

 The only constant in life and in business is, change. And it is leaders who have the power to set things straight.

Not knowing is OK

For many leaders, the world of branding and how to harness it for a fruitful outcome can be a mystery. We have seen countless occasions where a company’s leadership embarks upon a quest to correct their branding – but some struggle to articulate the brand challenges they face. That’s OK, that’s where we come in. Branding isn’t a dark art, it’s an integral part of the business, and getting it right is part of a successful growth strategy.

And so, we want to help business leaders understand more of our world with a quick crash course on branding. Welcome to Branding 101.

Your guide to brand transformation

Most branding projects are like taking a journey with an experienced tour guide. Over the years we’ve developed our own outline for running a project, which takes your brand from insights to strategy to creative execution. 

In our Branding 101 series, we’ve mapped out our methodology as a sequence of articles that correspond to different stages of the branding journey: The 6 Ds Process.

Article #1: Diagnosis: Your organisation might face challenges unrelated to your brand. A typical scope of work is informed by the pain points clients encounter regarding their business and brand. This can be a very revealing process for the client, unearthing things they may not have seen or even considered previously.

Article #2 Discover: Project accepted, we then dive into interviews, insights, research, competitors, categories, trends… The start of every project begins by unearthing the findings that determine how to make the right changes to your brand.

Article #3 Define: From insights to strategy. We examine how findings distil into a plan of attack for your brand – a positioning that articulates the problem to be solved. Then we explore the frameworks, messaging approaches and useful concepts that make the case for change.

Article #4 Design: Translating strategy to creative. The ideas of the strategy get expressed with copy, logo, design language and other elements that represent the brand. We explore what it takes to build your brand identity and formalise rules as guidelines for partners and teams to use.

Article #5 Delivery: You’ve got your assets and artwork. Now go forth and start branding. We explore some of the key outputs where your brand identity gets applied, such as your website, sales decks and launch campaigns. 

Article #6 Discipline: Branding isn't a one-time thing. It's an ongoing health check to ensure that everything remains consistent, clear, and change-ready. In this final article, we explore brand management and maintenance - how to stay on top of your brand's potential and identify opportunities to keep your brand competitive and compelling for your audience.

...

If you’re a business leader ready to embark on a journey of brand transformation, then get in touch.

About Author:
Martin Reid
 is a Senior Strategist at Design by Structure.
Structure creates relevant and compelling brands for next-generation tech companies.

26th May 2022

Branding 101: Diagnosis


The C-suite’s Guide to Brand Transformation

Part 2: Diagnosis – what’s your brand problem?

You may think a shiny new branding strategy can help put your organisation on the right path to success. And it can, when implemented correctly as part of your business plan. However, the most effective way to find out how it can help is to explore your challenges fully with a capable branding partner. This article explores common pain points, examines how these set up your branding journey and considers the traps of thinking your business problems are always to do with your brand….

To use a medical metaphor, when you get sick, your symptoms help doctors identify your condition, how severe it is and what the cause might be. Then comes the right treatment to help you thrive again.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to claim that branding is as complex and critical as a medical evaluation. But drawing upon the similarities: both involve asking questions and looking for key clues and insights to define and solve problems that come knocking at the door.

Diagnosis helps both experts in brand and businesses in need figure out if partnering will help correct the business problems that surfaced.

A pandemic of problems

Perhaps your business isn’t hitting growth targets or you’re attracting irrelevant sales leads. Maybe you and your colleagues can’t accurately or consistently articulate what your business does. Maybe your systems for making creative assets aren’t fast or effective enough (or you have no system at all). And maybe the communication assets you have (such as your website, sales decks, etc) simply aren’t well executed.

We see many prospects and clients share the same challenges. Sometimes such problems are due to poor organising between teams and the need to upgrade standards. But sometimes problems are bigger, more abstract and may require many changes business-wide to make them right.

Before you seek help from the outside, connect with managers and executives across your team to gather insight about what works and what doesn’t (your symptoms, if you like). It might be a few difficult conversations, but it needs to happen to build the case for change. Not only does this help your colleagues or investors co-operate and support any new branding investment, but it also helps your agency to help you the best they can – the more information you supply the better the outcome.

Identifying your branding partner

When you approach branding agencies, make sure you gain a good understanding of their capabilities and the extent to which their service offerings can really serve your needs.

Agencies come in all shapes and sizes. Some are laser-focused on a sector or competency (digital, experiential, sales promotion etc.) while others offer broader, interconnected services, from employee engagement and management consulting to cutting edge 3D motion graphics and web3 asset expertise.

Nothing is more effective than a proper diagnostic conversation with an expert to determine what you actually need. You may start out thinking you need a better logo and finish realising that naming, revised architecture and a new sub-brand are the real antidotes to your challenges.

Mapping the brand journey

Let’s skip the sales approach as every agency and client has their philosophy for how to manage new business, participate in pitches and create proposals.

You’re on board. Time to start your brand journey. Every brand journey follows some kind of plan usually known as a scope of work: an agreement on the order of steps to take together in building your brand and on what is delivered. It helps anchor expectations and keeps teams on track.

How you decide what goes in, at what price and how quickly varies based on your agency’s capabilities, capacities, talent, and other competitive variables.

Most agencies will have their own process or methodology for how they carve up the journey from input to outcome. Our next few articles will dig deeper into the creative process stages that we use at Structure: Discover (research and insight), Define (positioning, strategy, tone of voice), Design (identity, system, brand guidelines), Deliver (key outputs e.g., website, collateral)

The bias to brand

The big question is whether branding can actually solve your problems.

When you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. More important than recognising when branding can help is recognising when branding definitely isn’t the answer. There are some problems that branding simply can’t fix.

It’s true that often a new brand can flatten reputational crises and help rationalise chaotic business decisions. But a company with a toxic culture won’t U-turn morale or performance just because you changed your name. Sexy rebrands alone can’t overhaul common understandings of notoriously poor customer service.

Furthermore, if ‘it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Don’t decide to change your brand lightly. This is particularly true for brands living with price extremes or fanatical audiences, such as luxury fashion where the brand itself represents the most value. Your perception of the problem may be a short-term goal and there could be a risk of undoing years of positive progress

The best way to figure this out is to ask a branding expert.

Start with a valuable consultation

There’s a saying that brand strategy is just business strategy in disguise. Component brand experts will have a good understanding of all the ways your brand threads through your business, reaches audiences and influences decision-making.

It pays to choose a partner with this practical experience to diagnose your true needs – whether it’s with them or another specialist.

Author:
Martin Reid
 is a Senior Strategist at Design by Structure.
Structure creates relevant and compelling brands for next-generation tech companies.

...

About this series

Your guide to brand transformation

Most branding projects are like taking a journey with an experienced tour guide. Over the years we’ve developed our own outline for running a project, which takes your brand from insights to strategy to creative execution. 

In our Branding 101 series, we’ve mapped out our methodology as a sequence of articles that correspond to different stages of the branding journey: The 6 Ds Process.

Article #1: Diagnosis: Your organisation might face challenges unrelated to your brand. A typical scope of work is informed by the pain points clients encounter regarding their business and brand. This can be a very revealing process for the client, unearthing things they may not have seen or even considered previously.

Article #2 Discover: Project accepted, we then dive into interviews, insights, research, competitors, categories, trends… The start of every project begins by unearthing the findings that determine how to make the right changes to your brand.

Article #3 Define: From insights to strategy. We examine how findings distil into a plan of attack for your brand – a positioning that articulates the problem to be solved. Then we explore the frameworks, messaging approaches and useful concepts that make the case for change.

Article #4 Design: Translating strategy to creative. The ideas of the strategy get expressed with copy, logo, design language and other elements that represent the brand. We explore what it takes to build your brand identity and formalise rules as guidelines for partners and teams to use.

Article #5 Delivery: You’ve got your assets and artwork. Now go forth and start branding. We explore some of the key outputs where your brand identity gets applied, such as your website, sales decks and launch campaigns. 

Article #6 Discipline: Branding isn't a one-time thing. It's an ongoing health check to ensure that everything remains consistent, clear, and change-ready. In this final article, we explore brand management and maintenance - how to stay on top of your brand's potential and identify opportunities to keep your brand competitive and compelling for your audience.

...

If you’re a business leader ready to embark on a journey of brand transformation, then get in touch.

 

6th April 2022

Enabling customers to build any investment experience

NEW CORPORATE IDENTITY AND WEBSITE FOR BERLIN-FINTECH UPVEST


- Making investing as easy as spending money -

Berlin-based fintech Upvest has launched its new corporate identity and website design.

Upvest empowers its B2B finance clients to provide their end customers with any type of investment product. The fintech has developed an Investment-API that can be easily connected to existing backends enabling businesses to build great investment experiences for their end-users – seamless, secure and across international borders.

With a more inclusive investment API approach, encompassing both traditional securities and crypto, Upvest needed a new and distinctive corporate identity to reflect its unique positioning, so the marketing team approached Design by Structure (Structure) with a brief.

Reflecting Upvest’s DNA

Working with the concept of disrupting and democratising the investment category, a strong proposition was leveraged from the strategic insights – One API. Any investment experience.  

This is supported with a succinct and clear TOV and messaging strategy, avoiding industry jargon to ensure clients understand how the investment API will benefit their business.

Creative execution

The colour palette has a defined usage hierarchy, with key colours used purposefully across all comms. Key to the creative is the graphic assets inspired by the Upvest universe, illustrated with a graphic (a transparent circle) – a visual metaphor that represents the idea of a complete solution with endless possibilities. The transparency reflects Upvest’s clear and transparent approach to business.

The circle was abstracted to create four icons that act as product identifiers – savings plan, portfolio, roundup and fractional – each with its own colour assignment.

Structure also developed a portfolio of icons for other comms applications to help with website navigation. Imagery and video play an important part of the new website content, introducing both the product functionality and the ‘Upvengers’ (team members) who bring the business and product portfolio to life.

Speaking about the project, Olga Knyazkova, Product Marketing Manager, Upvest said, “The goal was clear, we wanted to create a new corporate identity and website design that strongly reflects our core brand proposition: making investing as easy as spending money. Structure supported us with their in-depth expertise and hands-on mentality throughout the entire process to really come up with a new distinctive corporate identity. The new design approach is also a perfect expression that we are now ready to enter the next chapter of Upvest’s ambitious future plans.”

John Galpin Co-Founder, Design by Structure said, Upvest was an exciting brief to work on. The Upvest team had a clear purpose - to make investing as easy as spending money and democratise access to all kinds of investment products. The brand and website were designed to make it clear how Upvest enables its customers to build any investment experience they can imagine with all of the complexity taken care of. We look forward to seeing the growth of investment experiences powered by Upvest’s API"

 

 

 

 

31st March 2022

Win at the Transform Awards 2022

 

The results of the 14th Transform Awards are in and we are winners!

The Transform Awards is the only awards programme to celebrate excellence in rebranding, repositioning and brand development in Europe. In another bumper year of entries, Structure has come out on top with a silver gong for our work with Dixa.

Andrew Thomas, publishing editor of Transform magazine, says, “It’s been an amazing year for the Transform Awards. We’ve seen some amazing work. For each and every winner of the Transform Awards, there is a story of dedication, brilliant ideas, creative excellence and strategic craft. We’re very happy that so many of these organisations, agencies and branding professionals have come together tonight to celebrate their achievements in branding, and the quality of branding seen across Europe.”

Huge thanks to the judges and our client Dixa who was not only a pleasure to work with, but who trusted our creative process to deliver a brand system and website that brought its vision to life.

Dixa - Silver - Best brand evolution.

Customer service software company Dixa is on a mission to change customer service for people – making it more personal, intelligent and data-driven.

 

 

31st January 2022

Trends for 2022

Time for a fresh start with fresh ideas, we are all looking for the next big thing in our arena. While the past two years has been unpredictable, there has been encouraging news with the relaxation of restrictions and the government encouraging us to end WFH and to get back to some kind of business normal.

With that in mind, our strategists have put together some ideas on trends to consider for the year ahead...

 

Written by senior strategists, Rob Williams and Martin Reid.

 

Web3 gets its wings
Web3 is going to change the way brands make themselves known. Where currently brands grapple with monoliths such as Facebook or Google to get seen on their platforms or harness customer data, web3 gives ownership, agency, and transparency back to individual users.

There’s already traction for web3 in creative sectors. Pace Verso invites artists to sell art as NFTs under its brand, while MetaFactory invites communities to vote on fashion lines and to share profits and exclusives with its users.

But B2B brands can weigh in on the fun too. From using NFTs as access passes to digital events or racing to establish real estate in the metaverse, the opportunities are endless. And financial service brands and retailers are of course changing tack to address how to bring cryptocurrency offerings and accommodations to customers (we are seeing our clients pioneering in this space).

This transition to Web3 will probably happen gradually as more people invest in crypto and curiosity peaks. Where customers go, brands will follow.

Even bolder creative
The tools, talent, and time it takes to make great digital creative are vastly improving – accelerated by WFH and the demands for better UX and CX. The upside is that branding can get much braver. Out with the traditional creative formats like downloadable eBooks and in with the interactive slideshow or parallax website. Even brand identities can become richer, more responsive, and even take a life of their own with AI and generative algorithms.

The downside? Standing out from the crowd. As always, the brands that have their strategies and stories straight will go further with their creative than the brands that throw budget at shiny propositions that don’t have much relevance.

Growth of Hybrid events
We’re not out of the woods yet, which gives rise to hybrid models. With many brands and businesses looking to return to face-to-face events, launches, meetings and conferences, a middle ground will need to be found to meet the needs of those unable to attend physically, with those who are eager to be in the same room.

Therefore, hybrid events will grow in popularity, offering a combination of in-person and virtual connectivity. Couple this with the rise of VR and the metaverse, we will see a monumental shift that blurs the physical and virtual, with experiential design that caters for both audiences.

Brand Switching
Electric vehicles. Reducing single-use plastic. Plant-based food. Exposing supply chain malpractices. It’s no surprise that consumers are shifting to conscientious consumerism, empowered to make the right choice by switching to brands that align with their values around sustainability and social movements.

As the past few years have further accelerated this shift, brands too must now take a hard look at themselves to ensure they are aligning with this movement, as well as progressing the conversation by nurturing these values to support positive change.
A brand’s ability to communicate these values will be critical to building resonance and trust, without being seen as pandering or greenwashing. With nowhere to hide, businesses must assess their entire operations to identify where fundamental changes are required to exist in this new world.

Brand purpose finds its purpose
In the last few years, many businesses went big on expressing brand purpose 
– soul-searching about their existing beyond earning shareholders profit and aligning 
to support or remedy social and environmental issues – only to face criticism of 
green-washing, youth-washing, rainbow-washing, woke-washing etc.

In 2022, brands will work harder on how they communicate purpose – with more precision on solving matters directly relevant to their brand and less focus on lofty language, inauthentic causes and ‘bandwagoning’.

Shared values
Brand collaborations are certainly not a new concept; however, we should expect the rise of collaboration in 2022.

In response to hyper consumer-awareness and conscientiousness, consumers expecting more from the brands they interact with means that false promises and self-indulgence marketing will no longer cut it. For brands to cut through the noise and build an authentic dialogue with consumers, they need to focus on shared values with their target audiences.

As brands look to increase their audience reach further, a shift from competition to collaboration is a clear choice. What better way to strengthen your brand than by finding other brands that share your values, or run in the same circles, and working together to combine your reach as well as giving social proof to one another by linking efforts for the benefit of the end-user.

It’s not just about awareness either, there are many economic benefits of combining efforts. Accenture calculates that successful brand collaborations can decrease logistics costs by as much as 3-4% and manufacturing costs by 5-15%, as well as optimising inventory management.

Reality bites
Here’s one reality worth remembering, brand trust is at an all-time low. According to the ‘Brutally Honest’ report by ImagenInsights, 0% of Gen Z respondents said they’d trust brands in 2022 – because they don’t provide meaningful or emotional fulfilment.

Brands need to work on managing reputations and aligning talk with action, CX with UX, and products with 'purpose'. It takes more than better design to be a better brand.

With the promise of the metaverse to add more ways to interact with customers, brands should focus on sorting themselves out in the real world before expanding into new spaces.

 

...

13th January 2022

Podcast: Episode 4 – ‘Delight your customers’

The KISS Principles is a new creative partnership between Structure and host, Parker Crockford. It's a new podcast about the lost art of keeping it simple in business.

Aimed at founders and start-ups, or anyone looking for advice on business, it's a bi-weekly series of fireside chats discussing the barriers and challenges faced by founders in the European B2B marketplace.

 

Check out The KISS Principles website for more info.

...

 

Episode 4: 'Delight your customers' with Felipe Navío, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Jobandtalent.

Felipe chats about his own experience of pivoting a business eight years down the line to hit a billion-dollar revenue four years later. He believes if something isn’t working don’t ever be afraid to change it and in the power of the 10x experience.

...

 

Episode 3: 'Embrace the tough' with Leda Glyptis, CCO, 10x Banking.

Leda Gilphis PhD, discusses the market needs of first and second wave European founders, with host Parker Crockford.

...

 

 

Episode 2: 'Be Bold, be brave, be visionary' with John Galpin, Co-founder, Design by Structure.

Branding guru John Galpin talks to Parker about when B2B founders need to develop their brand, the trap of poor brand positioning and communications, and he reveals the principles to building a brand.

...

 

Episode 1: 'You have to lean into sales' with Seth DeHart, Venture Partner, Point Nine.

Seth DeHart discusses the best approach to go-to-market (GTM) and sales strategies for European B2B start-ups. Answering why he thinks ‘sales’ is considered a dirty word in European markets and why some founder’s don't value it as a business tool.

...

30th November 2021

Podcast: Episode 3 – ‘Embrace the tough’

The KISS Principles is a new creative partnership between Structure and host, Parker Crockford. It's a new podcast about the lost art of keeping it simple in business.

Aimed at founders and start-ups, or anyone looking for advice on business, it's a bi-weekly series of fireside chats discussing the barriers and challenges faced by founders in the European B2B marketplace.

Check out The KISS Principles website for more info.

...

Episode 3: 'Embrace the tough' with Leda Glyptis, CCO, 10x Banking.

Leda Gilphis PhD, discusses the market needs of first and second wave European founders, with host Parker Crockford.

 

Episode 2: 'Be Bold, be brave, be visionary' with John Galpin, Co-founder, Design by Structure.

In the early growth stages of a business when it comes to positioning, it’s often about the start-up story and not about the product/service or the problem it’s solving for customers.

Branding guru John Galpin talks to Parker about when B2B founders need to develop their brand, the trap of poor brand positioning and communications, and he reveals the principles to building a brand.

 

Episode 1: 'You have to lean into sales' with Seth DeHart, Venture Partner, Point Nine.

Parker discusses the best approach to go-to-market (GTM) and sales strategies for European B2B start-ups with Seth DeHart. He asks, why is ‘sales’ considered a dirty word in European markets and why some founder’s don't value it as a tool to grow and shape their business.

...

19th January 2022

From Seed to Unicorn: Company culture

 

In our previous articles of this series, we explored how a newly created tech venture’s, brand strategy and visual identity should be curated alongside its business strategy to ensure a clear articulation of its purpose, as well as a unified identity.

In this, the final article of the series, we consider how a startup’s culture and employer value proposition forms the third prong of a well-rounded brand strategy.

...

When we think of culture, we often think of the physical elements – namely the office. While physical space is an important aspect of general wellbeing, gone are the days of the startup image – a bootstrapped office space, sparsely decorated with a ping pong table, neon-lit logo, and some mismatched beanbags. Instead, the growth of the co-working/shared office spaces has provided professional outfits to even the smallest of teams. The rise in open-source and freemium technologies has enabled better collaboration and systems.

But culture is so much more than just our working environment.

Culture is the co-collection of values and behaviours of both the employer and the employee. A workplace culture aligns employee behaviours with the Company policy, as well as the purpose of the brand and business. It acts to inform the needs and wants of those individuals who may choose to work there – their attitude, work-life balance, career aspirations and job satisfaction.

So, why should a small startup be overly concerned with its culture? After all, it’ll likely be a small team at the beginning – perhaps two co-founders working closely together on the next big thing.

The answer, simply, is that things will scale at pace. Two people will quickly become five, five will quickly become 10, and 10 will eventually become 100+. When the size of a workforce means that you no longer have direct involvement with shaping an employee’s individual experience, it is critical that structures are in place to ensure consistency and cohesion across the entire Company. And when it comes to recruitment, a Company’s culture is what will set its value proposition apart in the minds of prospective candidates in the race for talent.

So where does culture start? As cliché as it may sound, it always starts at the top.

Lead by example

When building a Company’s culture, first you need to consider your leadership. If you’re hiring into a newly formed C-suite, consider that these people will be tasked with setting an example and embodying the company values.  Do these people’s personal values align with the Company’s purpose and values? Do they exhibit what your Company stands for, in behaviour, integrity and attitude? By placing people into highly influential roles that will set the direction of your Company’s culture, you need to spend the time to make the right choice from the offset, ensuring that you and they are aligned on the vision of the Company you are building.

Culture is more than just our working environment.

Core values

Next to consider are the values of your Company’s culture. These are the fundamental DNA strands that will inform everything you do and should be aligned to both your business and brand strategy. These are often communicated at a policy level, perhaps through job descriptions, role remits, sign-off processes, team structures and internal committee initiatives.

When building a values structure, it’s easier to break them down into categories. For example, you may start with:

  • Accountability: How you empower everyone in the Company to own their outcomes, act with authority and autonomy to deliver towards the overall vision.
  • Communication: Even more critical in a post-pandemic hybrid working world, ensuring communication channels are open for everyone to access team members, leadership, and peers, to facilitate better collaboration and information sharing quickly and effectively.
  • Authenticity: Recognising and developing a diverse and inclusive culture so employees feel safe to bring their true selves to work. Having a workspace that encourages freedom and respect of everybody’s identity and working styles.
  • Recognition: Is in two parts, recognition of the value being added by an individual through continual reviews, openness on career progression, training & development, and respect - recognising the input and ability of your people. The second part is remuneration – the benefits package that is offered in return.

A leap of faith

When a candidate applies for a role at a startup, they’re taking a leap of faith. They believe in the Company’s vision (if it has been articulated well externally), and they are essentially shunning established competitors or legacy companies that can offer more stability and likely better remuneration. They likely want to be a part of the movement, to build something with you.

While a startup may not be able to fully compete on a rewards package that matches that of a more traditional employer, start-ups combine fewer rigid structures of legacy companies, with more autonomy and better progression.

In addition, there’s something that a start-up can offer as a promise of future remuneration – stock options. Consider then that if they’re helping to build the vision, they should be rewarded when that vision reaches fruition.

 Win the race for talent

While some companies may not consider in detail what their culture should feel like for employees, there is great benefit in doing so. Therefore by,

  • effectively communicating why potential candidates should invest their time and effort in your company,
  • building an employer value proposition that is both authentic and rooted in purpose,
  • retaining employees for longer and encouraging higher levels of motivation and productivity.

These actions can contribute to building your vision at pace.

Culture should be based on designing a mutually beneficial agreement in principle for both the Company and the employee to build the desired outcome that benefits everyone.

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 Structure creates relevant and compelling brands for next-generation tech companies.

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This article was first published in Brands Journal.

29th November 2021

From Seed to Unicorn: Visual and Verbal identity

In our first article of the series for Brands Journal, we explored how a newly created tech venture’s brand strategy should be developed in parallel with its business strategy, to create a relevant and authentic experience for audiences, deeply rooted in authenticity and a compelling reason for existence.

Armed with this newly developed brand strategy, the next step is to consider how to convey that strategy through a consistent and unified identity.

 

It’s important to understand what a brand identity is, what it isn’t, and how this differs from brand strategy.

Visual

If you were asked to think about McDonald’s, what would be your first thought? You may start by thinking about the food - a Big Mac, or perhaps a McFlurry. What about if you were asked to think about how McDonald’s looks? Chances are, you’ll envisage the golden arches - the famous ‘M’ is recognised the world over, regardless of language or culture. The McDonald’s logo is one of the most famous examples of an identity element that instantly sparks emotion, resonance, and brand recognition.

In its simplest form, a brand’s visual identity is the collection of all ‘tangible’ design elements that an organisation uses across its touchpoints. The elements of a visual identity can include, but not be limited to, a logo, a colour palette, graphical treatments, illustration, iconography, photography, and typography.

The history of the term originates from branding livestock – to distinguish and differentiate. Developing a brand’s visual identity is the same principle – distinguishing your company from another through a clearly recognisable design system.

In our McDonald’s example, building brand recognition through a single design element takes time – through constant reinforcement, using it across every channel until the association becomes second nature and recall becomes effortless in the minds of the audience.

As a newly developed tech business, it’s unlikely founders will have had the time to build such recognition, even less so if the audience is predominately B2B. There are some instances where tech startups have built a recognisable design element that helped them create recall in the minds of their target audience in a short space of time. Monzo is a good example of this.

When Monzo first launched, one thing stood out (quite literally) about its design language, its bright red debit cards (or ‘hot coral’ as it’s more affectionately known within its community). Monzo’s eye-catching cards sparked conversation – with people asking users what card, and therefore what brand, they were carrying.

Monzo card

Monzo card

When thinking about your brand, a unified identity is key. A consistent identity that spans every touchpoint – web, digital interfaces, packaging, demos, events, etc. Think about where your brand identity will show up – then make it consistent across the board so that people understand who they are interacting with and easily attribute any interaction to your brand.

There’s evidence for why a unified identity will benefit your company. From over 200 organisations surveyed, it is estimated that the average revenue increase attributed to presenting a brand consistently is +23%. But perhaps the most telling is that the negative impact of inconsistent brand usage is the creation of confusion in the market, reported by 71% of study participants [1].

Verbal

Identity isn’t just about what can be seen. It’s also about how a brand sounds, how it speaks and the messages it communicates to its audience about what it stands for.

Developing a tone of voice for your brand is essential to ensuring a standard form of communication, which in turn will help your audiences resonate with what you are saying and attribute this to your brand. You are communicating your purpose, your mission, and your values for your audiences to connect with, so emphasis needs to be placed on the mouthpiece to communicate them effectively.

Focus on how you wish for your personality to be perceived through how you speak (or more likely, how you write). Do you take a pragmatic, professional tone, or are you more informal with zero jargon? Context is key, and there will naturally be flex in how you engage (you wouldn’t speak to an investor board in the same style as a Twitter handle, for example).

Cultivate a tone that is both authentic and truthful to your brand and business strategy, ensuring a set of verbal principles are adhered to, to promote consistency across the spectrum of communication channels. If your brand strategy conveys what you stand for, then your verbal identity is how you express and communicate it with a personality, therefore you must ensure it is reflective of the brand you are building.

When starting out, take time to consider your identity, and all the elements it’s made up of. Ensure that these are captured appropriately in the brand guidelines and that these are protected, adhered to and your people are well versed in them. It’s helpful to have a central figure or brand guardian within the business, to ensure that consistency is maintained when developing content for your brand.

Consistency is key.

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In our final article of the series, we’ll cover internal culture design and employer value propositions while scaling.

[1] A survey by LucidPress / Demand Metric, State of brand consistency.

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 Structure creates relevant and compelling brands for next-generation tech companies.

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This article was first published in Brands Journal.

16th December 2021

Award Nomination

 

Transform Awards 2022

The results of the 14th Transform Awards are out and we have been shortlisted!

As a strategic branding agency that works with transformative tech companies, we are lucky to work across varied sectors creating beautiful brands in Retail Hospitality, Finance, Retail and Property – to name a few.

Our work creates relevant and memorable brands by telling a compelling story that impacts their market and elevates them within their sectors.

We are very proud of the work we do for all of our clients, but it is especially fantastic to have had this work acknowledged by this year's Transform judges.

We are shortlisted in the following category:

For our work with Dixa- Best brand evolution.

Customer service software company Dixa is on a mission to change customer service for people – making it more personal, intelligent and data-driven.

 

 

29th November 2021

DI Award For Structure

Design by Structure has taken silver at the Digital Impact Awards 2021 for its creative work for customer service software company, Dixa.

The Digital Impact Awards recognise the cutting edge in digital communications across a broad range of categories including deliverables, social media, and sector.

As a strategic branding agency that works with transformative tech companies, we are lucky to work across varied sectors. Our work creates relevant and memorable brands by telling a compelling story that impacts our clients' market and elevates them within their sectors.

We are very proud of the work we do for all of our clients, but it is especially fantastic to have been acknowledged by this year's DIA judges with an award.

Speaking about the work, Mads Fosselius, CEO, Dixa said, "We started working with a great branding agency in London – Design by Structure – who gave us the confidence and impetus to change our messaging and be far more direct."

John Galpin, co-founder, Design by Structure said, “We are thrilled about winning and receiving the recognition from Communicate magazine and the Digital Impact Awards judges for our work on this project. Dixa is on a mission to help brands eliminate bad customer service forever, something many of us will have experienced, so it was great to work with Dixa to bring its conversational approach to customer service to life online. Dixa is going from strength to strength, closing a Series C round and expanding into the US market... looking forward to seeing what's next from these game changers ”

Dixa - Silver -  Best use of digital from the retail sector

Andrew Thomas, founder of the Digital Impact Awards, and publisher of Communicate magazine said, “Digital has connected workforces, strengthened relationships with employees and kept citizens informed of crucial information amid a changing landscape. It is always so rewarding and illuminating to examine those setting the standard for excellence in strategic digital communications. Congratulations to all of this year’s very deserving winners!”

19th November 2021

Podcast: Episode 2 – ‘Be bold, be brave, be visionary’

The KISS Principles is a new creative partnership between Structure and host, Parker Crockford. It's a new podcast about the lost art of keeping it simple in business.

Aimed at founders and start-ups, or anyone looking for advice on business, it's a bi-weekly series of fireside chats discussing the barriers and challenges faced by founders in the European B2B marketplace.

Check out The KISS Principles website for more info.

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Episode 2: 'Be Bold, be brave, be visionary' with John Galpin, Co-founder, Design by Structure.

In the early growth stages of a business when it comes to positioning, it’s often about the start-up story and not about the product/service or the problem it’s solving for customers.

Branding guru John Galpin talks to Parker about when B2B founders need to develop their brand, the trap of poor brand positioning and communications, and he reveals the principles to building a brand.

Episode 1: 'You have to lean into sales' with Seth DeHart, Venture Partner, Point Nine.

Parker discusses the best approach to go-to-market (GTM) and sales strategies for European B2B start-ups with Seth DeHart. He asks, why is ‘sales’ considered a dirty word in European markets and why some founder’s don't value it as a tool to grow and shape their business.

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11th October 2021

A new creative partnership

The KISS Principles is a new creative partnership between Structure and host, Parker Crockford. It's a new podcast about the lost art of keeping it simple in business.

Aimed at founders and start-ups, or anyone looking for advice on business, it's a bi-weekly series of fireside chats discussing the barriers and challenges faced by founders in the European B2B marketplace.

 

Parker has previously worked with John Galpin (Structure co-founder) on strategy and branding briefs for his clients.  Both are champions for founders success stories and have discussed in-depth, the challenges they experience across different sectors and markets, particularly European B2B founders. Therefore, it was a natural fit for us to work together to develop The KISS Principles podcast when Parker approached us with the idea.

Check out The KISS Principles website for more info.

...

Check-in here for new episodes every month.

Episode 1: 'You have to lean into sales'

Parker discusses the best approach to go-to-market (GTM) and sales strategies for European B2B start-ups with Seth DeHart. He asks, why is ‘sales’ considered a dirty word in European markets and why some founder’s don't value it as a tool to grow and shape their business.

 

7th September 2021

Is Uber running out of road?

–The power of brand on VC-funded tech start-ups–

Seven years ago, I was working on behalf of a well-known car manufacturer. The brand was concerned that it would soon become nothing more than a commodity, with its vehicles produced to hand over to the new kids on the block – a revolutionary mobility app that was gathering huge momentum in the US and had just arrived in the UK. 

It was called Uber (well, it was called UberCab).

When Uber was founded in 2009 and subsequently launched in 2010, the venture capitalist (VC) investment valued it at over $5 million, growing to $51 billion just five years later in 2015, with players like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Jay-Z all wanting a slice of the action.

The reason for this car manufacturer’s concern was not unfounded. Uber’s proposition meant that it would completely own the customer relationship and regular interaction with the end-user, all happily handing over their valuable data on journeys – how, when and where they travelled. 

Uber was the app that a friend would invite you to down the pub, both receiving a free ‘ride’. A slick app with an even slicker user experience, you would simply select your destination to be shown your driver en route in real-time. On getting into the vehicle, it was clear that this wasn't a taxi... it was somebody's car. The radio was playing, they’d offer to charge your phone or even play your latest Spotify playlist while offering you a bottle of water. No meter, no rickety black cab that told you they didn’t take card payments just as you reached your destination. It was a comfortable journey, with a seamless experience that existed on both your phone and in the real world. You’d leave a rating as if you had purchased that journey from Amazon. And, to top it all off, the cost of the journey was less than a third of the price of other taxis – the modern user experience of ride-hailing was born.

Uber was the driving force behind a new take on democratising mobility. Hybrid/electric vehicles were shared and utilised at only the times they were required. Freeing up roads, reducing the number of vehicles that sat idle in driveways to be used only a fraction of the time. Utilising data, trends, and AI to understand hot spots, peak times and supply and demand.

Now back to that car manufacturer I mentioned earlier. This disruptor prompted the brand to pivot its entire business model - vehicle subscriptions, shared-ownership models, speeding up the roll-out of their electric-vehicle offerings, data as a service. A huge, fundamental shift in how it would exist in the new world. Gone were the days of the dodgy car salesmen only interacting with the customer the next time they wanted to part exchange for a new car. 

The shift was fundamental for that manufacturer's survival and longevity. But seven years on, the original catalyst for that shift feels a little... lacklustre. Uber hasn't dominated the mobility market or even turned a profit (yet). Shrouded in controversy and bad press, Uber’s ‘road to success’ has seen a few steep hill starts and stalls… which makes me wonder, is Uber starting to run out of road?

All hail the gig economy

One of Uber’s most profound effects on the new world was utilising a new way of working that was only just finding its feet – the gig economy. Drivers for Uber weren’t employed by the platform, they were a new type of freelance, being paid for a service on demand. They were free to set their own working hours, decide how many rides they wanted to offer, and to whom. The downside was that, as gig workers, they were entitled to none of the benefits or security of being an employee.

Enter the competition

With the emergence of new tech, a disrupted mobility market and a gig economy that presented huge opportunities, several competitors entered the same space, all contending for the attention and loyalty of consumers. This came as no surprise, investors and Uber would have foreseen this. Shortly after launch, there were several competitors on Apple’s app store and Google’s Play Store that offered a like-for-like service. So, what do you do when there is little differentiation between the service you offer and the service of the competition? Especially when drivers have no loyalty or affinity to your platform so will happily jump ship (or straddle both ships depending on which has the most earning potential).

Price wars

Hail a ride with Uber today, and you'll notice that the price of your journey isn't as enticing as it once was. Compare it to another hailing service, and you may find Uber is now more expensive. 

Uber has been artificially lowering the cost of rides for years, using VC investment, to build a customer base across the globe. Unfortunately, this can’t last forever (as Uber’s competitors will one day find out themselves). Without the VC-stream to artificially lower the cost of a ride, Uber is now at the point where the true cost of a ride must be reflected in the app if they ever want to become profitable. 

Uber put a lot of faith in self-driving capabilities to reduce the need for drivers at all, which is nowhere near the point of being ready in the short-mid-term future. In fact, Uber recently sold off its driverless car subsidiary to Amazon-backed start-up, Aurora Technologies, putting an end to its dream of an AI-driven workforce.

So, if you can’t compete on price for an identical service, what do you do? Will customers remain loyal?

Brand – the secret weapon

A brand strategy deeply rooted in authenticity is a C-suite’s secret weapon. 

A purpose, mission, and values to live and breathe, that are understood and reciprocated by your community, your consumers, and your stakeholders, that aid strategic decision-making across your entire business. Communicating direction, ambition and allowing you to build recognition and resonance in the minds of your audience. Building experiences around every interaction and touchpoint that are uniquely yours. And to build a tribe that demonstrate your values through an encompassing employer value proposition that empowers your own people to be the brand, that allows them to feel a part of something more than the sum of its parts.

The problem that Uber has is that it didn’t have this mindset from the get-go. Reports of a billionaire boys club start-up mentality, rife with toxicity and heavy-handed firing practices created a controversial brand from the outset. Couple that with ever-ongoing breaking news of issues with the treatment of drivers (and whether they should, in fact, be classed as employees), losing licences to operate in cities as well as internal turmoil, Uber hasn’t exactly made it easy for itself.

Drivers are leaving the platform in their droves due to mistreatment, unfair conditions and ever-reducing earning potential. A recent study by Stanford University found that 68% of drivers stop driving with the platform within six months of starting (source).

As more of Gen Z enter the workforce with earning potential and disposable income, with a focus on new-age mobility and reducing their impact on the planet, Uber would be the natural choice if it weren’t for a brand that doesn’t align with their principles. After all, new research suggests that company values are heavily prioritised by this new wave of consumers (source). This audience is looking at how a brand treats its people and aren’t afraid to voice opinions in the age of social media and cancel culture. With stiff competition ready to meet this audience’s needs, Uber needs to double down on re-building an inclusive and supportive culture. 

Building a stronger employer value proposition for everyone

In 2015, Andrew Levy, Uber’s new Global Careers Brand Lead, was tasked with leading a team dedicated to building an employer value proposition to repair and rebuild reputation, perception, and sentiment around working at Uber.

Levy aggregated data from offices all around the world to create an authentic and honest story about what it’s like to be an employee at the ride-hailing giant. The problem, however, was that not everyone was considered a part of Uber.

“I can’t speak to drivers because my vertical is just employees”, Levy was quoted as saying (source).

And herein lies the issue that Uber still needs to address. After years of back and forth, legal battles, protests, media coverage and mass exits, Uber is still only starting to accept that drivers are a key, fundamental part of its business model, recognising them as employees of their business in certain countries.

Regardless of whether Uber considers itself a tech platform that offers transport by matching passengers to drivers, a customer’s experience with Uber is still largely dependent on the driver you’re assigned. Consider then that driver holds the power to make or break an experience, whether they offer exemplary service or is an advocate of the Uber brand. Uber needs to empower these individuals to demonstrate its brand’s values, showcasing that its drivers are nurtured and feel that they are supported by their employer. A happy and high-calibre workforce is fundamental for creating a distinction in the minds of consumers and building positive experiences that are aligned with a user’s values. 

From March 2021, drivers in the UK will be recognised as ‘workers’ following a court ruling, with holiday benefits, pension and a guaranteed minimum wage. If this wasn’t law-enforced, it may have represented a monumental pivot for Uber. What follows in the coming years across the globe will be fundamental to Uber’s ability to win the race for talent, and ultimately users, as a values-led brand.

Conclusion

For start/scale-ups that may have recently acquired Series funding, it is critical to consider your brand from the outset, setting clear values that are rooted in authenticity and demonstrated by your leadership team. The ‘fail fast and break things’ mentality may still ring true to an extent but be careful that the things you break don’t remain broken for years to come.

Design and build a culture that is transparent, nurturing, and supportive so that your people become your ambassadors, who feel a part of a community and who won’t want to jump to the competition. By doing this from the very beginning, your brand and business can scale at pace while still retaining your true North Star to ensure that you remain true to who you are, that can attract and retain talent as well as prospective audiences who share your principles so that you don’t need to rebuild a damaged reputation down the line, impacting your bottom line.

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This article was written for and first published in Brands Journal.

7th October 2021

From Seed to Unicorn: Brand strategy for the tech startup.

For tech start-ups setting out on their journey to launch a revolutionary new product or service to the market, the first hurdle is to get investors interested enough to stake you in the game. But going from passion project to million-pound start-up isn’t the end goal, nor an indicator of success. In fact, 70% of upstart tech companies will fail at around 20 months after first raising investment [1].

How do you ensure that your newly formed company thrives, gains further investment, and becomes a household name? After all, if you want to reach that coveted unicorn status (£1billion+ valuation), you'll need to scale at speed, excite the investors, stay disruptive, be a category leader, and of course fight off new competition. All done so that you’re able to map your route to becoming profitable or create enough disruption to one day IPO or sell up to the bigger players.

Search Google today for 'branding for startups' and you're hit with a barrage of articles, thought leadership and some questionable insight on the right approach for creating a brand for your new venture.

A lot of this advice is centred around getting out into the world quickly. Select a name, throw a logo together, build a website and get on social media. And that could work, especially if you have a killer product that can attract and excite an audience. Haste may also show your commitment to your investors as you launch your minimum viable product (MVP) out into the world. However, a speedy approach may cause more harm than good as you find that further down the road you must make obvious U-turns, pivots, or realise that people have little resonance with you as a company because of a distinct lack of consistency.

While branding may not be up there on your list of priorities – when you have a million different workstreams to contend with – you should reconsider prioritising it.

Your brand and business strategies should exist in parallel, which is why it makes sense to develop them together. You’ll likely be surrounded by angel investors and VC-fund managers who will happily advise on business and market strategies. What may be lacking, however, is how a well-curated brand strategy should be used to create a consistent experience to excite and delight your audience. This will contribute to creating long-term success.

Increasingly the boundaries between brand and business strategies are becoming blurred as we delve even deeper into the digital age. Brands exist in the minds of your audience as one ecosystem, no longer separate entities between product/service and identity. A brand is every interaction and touchpoint, from your product interface to how your customer service makes someone feel, from the perception of internal culture to how your brand is portrayed across different channels.

Your brand is the mouthpiece of your business strategy and should be there to create a unified and consistent experience for your audiences.

Consider your position

Considering your competitors is one of the first tasks someone will undertake when thinking up an idea; who else is serving this market, satisfying this need, or solving the problem? How are we going to do it better (or if you’re lucky, be the first company to do it at all)?

Unlike more traditional businesses, a tech start-up may be able to make clear differentiation versus the competition. Many will be disrupting an industry through a radical new approach with tech as the catalyst, versus incumbents and traditional providers. It’s important to map out all the players that operate in the space, as well as considering those adjacent too.

Let’s look at Wise (formally TransferWise) as an example. In the past, transferring money abroad was limited to a few expensive routes, such as traditional banks who would add a hefty markup fee as well as setting their own exchange rates. There were also wire transfer companies in shops across the country, again setting their own rates/fees. Both would take a long time to transact.

Wise looked at a different way to do this, using technology as the enabler. It was able to offer a simple, small fee and a near-perfect exchange rate, relying on a network of accounts across the globe that would hold money and pay locally when someone requested a transfer via their website, and later, smartphones. The speed and cost reduction were game-changers.

Take the time to understand your position in the market – ask yourself who you are serving, why they need you, how your product/service is better and why they should believe you.

Are you the disruptor within the mainstream, or are you revolutionising by creating a new category entirely? Knowing which space you occupy will make it easier to communicate to your audiences and for them to connect with your brand on a deeper level.

Focus on the ‘why’

It may come as no surprise, but companies that succeed in creating a standout brand all have one thing in common. They start with a ‘purpose’. Simply put, your purpose is your reason for doing what you do. It’s what you stand for, and what your customers can expect of you.

This may sound obvious but being clear on what your purpose is from the outset enables you to make strategic business and brand decisions. It acts as the central lens through which all decisions can be viewed.

Create a clear and authentic purpose to act as your foundation on which your entire brand ecosystem can be built – what you set out to do, why you’re doing it and how you will benefit all of those who interact with your brand. In turn, this will allow you to understand which values are fundamental to your brand.

Aligned values

Belonging is innately human. Being a part of something, a community, a tribe. It makes sense then that as consumers, we buy into brands that we feel mirror our values and beliefs and shun those that don’t.

In the age of hyper-transparency where there is nowhere to hide, poor brand behaviour can be exposed with a tweet. Therefore, a company’s values are the driving force in creating resonance. Baking your values (which should be authentic, meaningful, and born out of your purpose) into your business strategy means that customers and prospects can see your authentic self. They can then decide whether theirs align with yours – making a conscious decision to engage with your brand or not. Over time, this will continue to strengthen (or not, if values aren’t lived up to), to create loyalty with your audience.

Starting out, it may be hard to decide who you want to be as a company and a brand. And that’s ok. Your values will evolve and grow with you. For now, set realistic but truthful values - a set of guiding principles that your brand stands for and everyone can aspire to.

...

[1] www.cbinsights.com/research/startup-failure-post-mortem

In part 2, we will cover visual and verbal identity (including naming), and how we continue to build our brand ecosystem.

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This article was written for and first published in Brands Journal.

12th September 2021

Democratising Corporate Finance

Corporate finance experts, Shaw & Co has launched its new brand suite which was created by Design by Structure. The new work supports its ambition to position the company as a ‘disruptor brand’ in the corporate finance market.

Shaw & Co is on a mission to democratise the corporate finance (CF) market, often seen as an impenetrable and inhuman world for SME businesses, making it more accessible, open, and transparent – helping them to achieve greater outcomes for their businesses.

The brief

Founded by former GB cyclist Jim Shaw, Bristol-based Shaw & Co wants to make CF more accessible and has taken a more human and emotional approach to this brief.
By understanding how important people’s businesses are to them and focusing on the emotional drivers, the brand is offering a more differentiated business service.

Having already conducted a deep dive into the Shaw & Co brand, its Chief Marketing Officer, Paul Mills approached Structure with a brief to develop its proposition, positioning, TOV, visual identity, brand guidelines. In addition, the agency was asked to deliver a website, illustration style and both client and brand vision films.

Speaking about the brand work, Paul Mills, CMO Shaw & Co, said: “To support our ambitious growth plan, our brand needed a major rebuild to re-articulate our value proposition and competitive positioning. We’re winning bigger deals; we have a very loyal client base, and our net promoter score is 80+ so it was the perfect time to transform our brand strategy. The pandemic gave us the opportunity to conduct internal and external research to understand how our employees, business partners and clients valued the brand. We got some fantastic insight which allowed us to start building something that was different, authentic, and disruptive.

Mills continues: To bring our ideas, brand architecture, marketing touchpoints and client stories to life we engaged with Structure who immediately understood our strategic and creative goals. There has been a very strong synergy between us and Structure which has enabled the project to be delivered at incredible pace. We have been brave and let all of the creative decisions to Structure which has ensured agility and a strong end-result that everyone at Shaw & Co is delighted with.

A different approach to the CF sector – simple, clear and human.

For SME owners their business is a very big part of their lives. So, the creative strategy pivots on the human touch – simple, clear, and human. Structure looked to Shaw & Co’s clients to tell its brand story, using film to bring it to life, with people talking about their business challenges and how Shaw & Co has helped them.

This human approach runs throughout all comms touchpoints supported with language and messaging that is simple and clear, and using no industry jargon.

Driving Ambition

The brand’s new proposition is based on how Shaw & Co enables its clients to achieve their greatest business ambition – whether growing, funding or exiting their business – ‘We turn your ambitions into greater outcomes’.

The creative story brings to life the value the brand creates for its clients, Structure visualised and verbalised it by putting the spotlight on client success stories.

While the new brand work conveys both the functional and emotional side of the story, the creative solution continues the distinctively human approach across all elements, launching into the marketplace with a disruptive green colour palette, supported with vibrant accents, to create stand out in a sea of corporate blues.

The approach continues with a bold typeface to reflect ‘big ambition’ and a handwritten typeface to suggest human interaction. Hand-drawn devices (arrows, underscores etc.) will also be used throughout brand comms as emphasis points to hero key messaging.

Speaking about the creative, John Galpin Co-founder Design by Structure said, ‘You need a great client to do great work… and that’s what we got. There was a creative alignment and partnership between us and Shaw & Co from the beginning of this project. And because the team was very clear about the story they wanted to tell and what they wanted to achieve, this helped us accelerate our thinking and helped us do really great work for them’.

 

 

 

 

30th June 2021

Gold and silver for Structure

Delighted to share our latest news about our success at the Transform Awards 2021, which are a global celebration of brand development, reputation management and rebranding.

As a strategic branding agency that works with transformative tech companies, we are lucky to work across varied sectors. Our work creates relevant and memorable brands by telling a compelling story that impacts their market and elevates them within their sectors.

We are very proud of the work we do for all of our clients, but it is especially fantastic to have had these projects acknowledged by this year's Transform judges, with a gold and a silver.

John Galpin, co-founder, Design by Structure said, "We have worked with some amazing high-tech brands over the last two years and it's great to see our hard work being acknowledged with these award wins. We are all absolutely thrilled and already looking forward to next year's Transform Awards".

LendInvest - Gold -  Best Visual Identity

Formaplex - silver - Best Visual Identity

Andrew Thomas, founder of the Transform Awards, said.“Despite the challenges of Covid this has been a record year for the Transform Awards. The changes Covid has brought aren’t just economic. We face a major recalibration of the way we relate to the brands, the businesses, the organisations that touch our lives. We have an unprecedented challenge ahead of us, but the work entered in the Transform Awards highlights, once more, the strategic insight and phenomenal creativity of the agencies and in-house teams.”

1st June 2021

Innovating the sector

- Tivian relaunches with a new name and identity-

 

Tivian (an Intelligent Experience Management (XI) platform) has relaunched with a new name and brand identity created by Design by Structure (Structure).

Previously known as Questback for Enterprise (EFS), Tivian uses advanced analytics and cutting-edge AI technology to help companies capture and act on insights from their employees, customers, and the market. The platform approached Structure earlier this year to develop a new positioning and strategy, brand identity and brand guidelines & system.

The rebrand work is part of Tivian’s vision to innovate the industry, moving from passive experience management (EX) to proactive, intelligent experience management (IX) – it is reshaping the category.

To bring the platforms ambition to life, the new logo draws inspiration from mathematical formulas with the use of square brackets. They encapsulate Tivian’s important combination of its people, its insights, and its expertise. These three elements together help its customers to unlock opportunity in their business by enabling them to be connected to every employee and customer, listening, learning, and improving – delivering the best experiences and driving competitive advantage.

‘Intelligent experience management (XI)’
Following an in-depth market analysis of the business and building out a robust strategic framework, Structure unlocked the expression for the brand, revealing the new positioning and tagline, ‘Intelligent experience management’.

This captures Tivian’s move from passive experience management (XM) to comprehensive XI and its commitment to helping its clients capture and harness experience data to drive business listening, deeper insights – enabling better decision-making.

Speaking about the work, Frank Møllerop, CEO of Tivian said 'We were on a mission to reinvent our category, our brand identity and look & feel. The work led by Design by Structure delivered a platform for us to differentiate ourselves and push boundaries in our market that hadn’t moved for several years'.

 

Before:

After:

22nd April 2021

Future Focused with a New Brand Identity

Kaya VC, a venture capital fund, has launched its new brand identity created by Design by Structure.

The VC has changed its name to Kaya, to better reflect its modern focus, and decided to support the name change with a complete rebrand. Previously Enern, the new €72 million ($80m) fund focuses on start-ups in Prague Warsaw and the wider CEE region.

The fund has invested in 27 companies, more recently investing in B2B marketplaces, healthtech and blockchain. In total, the assets under management (AUM) is €250m, with this fund being its fourth. There had been a natural shift in the business focus, from investing in wind farms to SaaS companies, which is behind the VC’s move to rebrand.

‘Invested in you’

The company moves forward on a mission to nurture early-stage businesses, empower bold entrepreneurs and help realise founders’ ambition. Following the decision to rename and rebrand, Kaya approached Structure with an end-to-end brief, covering, strategy and positioning, brand & visual identity, website design and brand guidelines.

The collaborative process built on Kaya’s initial vision, introducing an in-depth market analysis and a robust strategic framework. Unlocking an authentic and original expression for the brand, the new positioning and tag line, ‘INVESTED IN YOU’, demonstrates Kaya’s unwavering support for founders, and their belief that the journey to enduring change is achieved by committing to meaningful, long-term partnerships.

This is further illustrated in the brand’s colour palette, with three vibrant colours reflecting the brand’s core values – Candour, Fortitude and Responsibility. While the design system utilised a dynamic triangular configuration to reinforce themes of collaboration, flexibility and resilience  –  building blocks that bring Kaya’s philosophy to life in different applications.

To complement the new palette, the agency employed a dynamic typeface, using bold weightings to emphasise key words and phrases. This is evident on the website where it is used to dial-up messaging in a clever way, placing emphasis on specific words to create sentences within sentences, and also as a device while scrolling through the website, with both techniques guiding readers to see ‘we are invested in you’ in bold text.

John Galpin, Co-Founder Design by Structure, said, “Kaya was an exciting brief to work on. The client is as proud of its past as it is passionate about its future, so we wanted to reflect this transformational moment, and capture the new energy and spirit that will not only drive Kaya forward but will support intrepid founders on their journey to create enduring change.”

 

13th April 2021

The Rise of the CGI Influencer

A Q&A with Fara Darvill, Growth Director

 

Why is the rise of the CGI influencer significant for brands? Building brands is big business and influencers have become an important part of brand marketing campaigns in the past decade. While influencers are not a new concept, in the past brands looked to the influence of global performers and movie stars, then reality TV in the 90s and social media in the 00s created the next-gen of influencers and a new kind of 'celebrity.' These were ordinary people with no perceivable talent just the willingness to talk and share.

And for a long time, brands enjoyed successful relationships with influencers – a post from a Kardashian on Insta could lead to a sell-out product in hours, and in the UK, it was the same with Zoella in beauty and Mrs Hinch has done wonders for cleaning products. Influencers power grew and they knew it.

The key to a successful relationship is that an influencer must be aligned to the collaborator brand’s values... And therein lies the rub.

Things started to turn sour in the last few years with influencers not being authentic in their posts, being caught out by not really using the products they endorse or obviously staging their posts – à la blogger, Scarlett London's disastrous Listerine promo – which is a turnoff for consumers, who aren't afraid to voice their disdain.

The big issue with collaborating with influencers is that they are real people who have real problems, which, if exposed, can leak into the brands they are promoting. Real people make mistakes that can ultimately cost their brand partner a lot of money if they do something that could tarnish the brand’s reputation.

Influencer 2.0
CGI-animated influencers cut this risk because they don’t exist! They can’t be caught in compromising situations or have their personal opinions used against them. They can be completely controlled, creators can choose every aspect of their personas, how they sound or look, even where they are.

Virtual influencers are gaining follower traction – Lil Miquela has 1.6million and has collaborated with Samsung – they are reliable (they don’t have personal problems) and offer a sanitised reassurance to brands that want to collaborate with them. But more importantly, brands can create their own versions of the perfect influencer and build it into their brand world.

Having control is the holy grail for brands that invest a lot of money in an influencer. The influencer can be 'perfect'. Brands can align their values and the influencer can 'live' those values consistently to support the brand's integrity and expectations.

While it may be a significant shift right now, watching what happens next with this type of influencer is going to be really interesting. Is perfect going to be enough?

12th April 2021

Powering a Pioneer

-The Power to Act -


Avrios, a Fleet Management Platform (operating across Europe), has launched its new brand suite created by Design by Structure.

Avrios is pioneering the future of fleet management software. Powered by AI tech, it integrates data, automates processes and provides its clients with real-time insights to improve their fleets – from fuel and mileage to leases, repairs and CO2 emissions. This allows clients to understand the true costs of their fleet, as well as the impact it has on social and environmental factors – therefore enabling changes such as environmental footprint and sustainability programmes. The SaaS is empowering its customers to make changes that ultimately make an impact on their bottom line.

The brief was a full end-to-end project, the new brand work includes strategy and positioning, visual identity, website, illustration style, TOV and brand guidelines.

The design process involved an in-depth analysis of the business. Insights from both the brand's customer service teams and customers informed the strategy, bringing two vision statements to light, ‘The true cost of ownership’ and ‘The power to act’. Both are activated through the brands comms messaging.

The art of illustration
A key project objective was to introduce fleet management services to a wider audience, not just direct customers but the people who use their vehicles. To support this goal, the agency introduced illustration (characters and icons) as an integral part of the creative story – using smiling faces on human characters to express the brands approachable and friendly values.

George the eagle, the brand's illustrated mascot, has had a complete redesign to dial up his approachable, fun and friendly characteristics. He will appear across external communications as a helpful guide.

All of the illustrative work is supported by a new icon portfolio. The icons have multiple applications across all comms touchpoints, they help to support messaging and key information points.

Speaking about the work, Richard Brooks, Avrios, CMO said, “Design by Structure has been a great partner in this project, the creative output has been really excellent, and they really took time to understand our business. We are super happy with our new vision pillars and look forward to driving forward with these over the coming months and years.”

 

9th March 2021

Technology Enables Innovation

Technology enables innovation to happen – but it is not why innovation happens.

Thousands of businesses have the capability to ‘innovate’ – to create something new, or something better. What separates successful businesses is not whether they can do something, it’s whether they know why they are doing it. There is a huge distinction here, let’s look at that further.

The most successful businesses deliver more than linear, incremental improvements that make something better, faster or smoother. Instead, they harness a deep understanding of their customers, not just observing how they currently behave but revealing and understanding their pain points, interrogating what really matters to them and identifying new opportunities to create meaningful change for them.

These businesses can rethink the sector/customer problem, approaching it from a fresh and original perspective, reframing the context and transforming expectations of what ‘better’ means.

As the classic Henry Ford quote goes, “If I’d have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. He could have bought the fastest horses, bred them to be even faster and become rich. He didn’t. Why? Because he understood that, although his customers might not have articulated it directly, the problem wasn’t just about speed – so the solution wasn’t just about being faster. Instead, he built a new mode of transport that exceeded expectations and transformed the landscape forever – and he became extremely rich!

In short, technology enables innovation, but the smartest innovations are driven by insight – and so too are the smartest businesses.

It can be easy to forget or overlook this, not least when businesses are running full speed to improve and when there seem to be more options for improvement than ever. The most ground-breaking innovations are not remembered because of the technology, they’re remembered because they transformed businesses, cultures and industries.

We need to think of technology and innovation as having a symbiotic relationship in business. Insight is the catalyst for this change. And by putting it at the heart of every decision and using it to constantly challenge and rationalise why they should do something, businesses can streamline activity, optimise resource and align every action through a clear purpose.

The interconnectivity of tech and innovation
Technology and innovation are interconnected they need each other to thrive, let’s look at some examples.

What’s the biggest frustration people experience with customer services? Feeling that they are not being understood or listened to. Having to go through the same conversation, the same complaint, over and over again because they’re speaking to a different agent. We all know this pain.

Dixa, is a SaaS business currently transforming the customer service experience by making it more personal, intelligent, and data-driven., it puts people at the core of its business and addresses this particular pain point – frustration.

Dixa could have used technology to reduce waiting times or increase accessibility. Instead, they looked at the problem differently and unlocked a fresh way to innovate in this industry. The service combines every customer interaction into one seamless conversation by unifying all contact points – phone, email, chat and messaging. Therefore, changing the landscape by removing the frustration of having to explain yourself again and again to different customer service agents.

It has used technology to create a seamless, ongoing dialogue that has transformed expectations of customer service forever.

Mews is another business blending insight and technological innovation to revolutionise the hospitality guest experience.

Rather than think about how to improve the traditional property management system that dominated the industry landscape, Mews decided to drive its innovation from a different angle – the human experience of both hoteliers and customers and asked what are their pain points?

By adopting a customer-first perspective, Mews developed customer-first tech that identifies how and where to simplify or automate hotel operations – from booking engine to check-out, front desk ritual to revenue management.

Small scale improvements would not have been enough to compel hoteliers to switch from the established incumbent – but a new way of thinking brought to life through technology, has created wholesale change and encouraged hoteliers and guests to imagine more.

What both these business example show, is where technology was used to deep dive into a real problem, to fulfil a gap in the sector where meaningful change could innovate to the benefit of the end-user – the customer. Both of these solutions tackle specific pain points, and instead of an easy fix, have come up with an idea that can shake a sector and really challenge sedentary thinking. That’s the beauty of tech, it can realise a business idea and elevate a sector with innovation.

A final word of caution, too often businesses create or adopt technology for technology’s sake. They realise they can, so they do, but they don’t stop to ask ‘why?’. They should. When you unlock ‘the why’, you unlock the insights.

It is the insight that unlocks innovation – and technology that makes good on the promise.

 

This article was first published in Global Banking and Finance Magazine.

8th January 2021

Transform Awards 2021

As a strategic branding agency that works with transformative tech companies, we are lucky to work across varied sectors creating beautiful brands in Hospitality, Finance, Retail and Property – to name a few. Our work creates relevant and memorable brands by telling a compelling story that impacts their market and elevates them within their sectors.

We are very proud of the work we do for all of our clients, but it is especially fantastic to have had these projects acknowledged by this year's Transform judges.

We are shortlisted in the following categories:
For our work with Formaplex - Best Visual Identity
- Industrial and Basic Materials Sector.
For our work with LendInvest - Best Visual Identity
- Property, Construction and Facilities Management Sector.

During a year that has been so difficult for us all in the creative industry (running projects remotely and so many meetings via video calls), it is incredible to be nominated in the sectors we strive to make a creative difference.

"Despite the challenges we face, the Transform Awards 2021 still managed to grow... we saw a fabulous range of agencies, companies and brands enter." Andrew Thomas, Transform Awards.

We are keeping our fingers crossed that we will be able to attend an actual event but, whatever happens, we are looking forward to the big night in May.

15th December 2020

Making innovation possible

- Driving brand relevance in a rapidly changing world-

Payments company, Fime appointed Design by Structure (Structure) to develop its new brand. This has come on the back of the company expanding its offering and expertise across its entire business to meet the needs of the payments market.

Fime provides consulting and disruptive testing expertise to enable its clients to develop, build and launch trusted digital payment experiences across fintech, banking and smart mobility. Relaunching the brand was a very important part of the business strategy enabling the company to harmonises its customer touchpoints.

Creative challenge
The brand identity was outdated and lost in its competitor arena. Additionally, its brand assets and communications materials were not serving their purpose, with no thematic brand consistency across the brand's channels. There was also an issue with Fime's communications, market perception did not reflect the services the company offers and there was no clear message for its target audience.

Structure created a fresh and standout visual language to help elevate the brand's positioning. The creative solution re-thought its touch-points and created a suite of materials and a toolkit to allow the in-house marketing team the flexibility to further develop the brand.

The relaunch aligns with Fime's core values and principles and informs its strategic approach, it also includes the brand's new tagline ‘Making innovation possible’ which is at the heart of what the business does.

Speaking about the creative, Lionel Grosclaude, CEO Fime said: ‘Re-launching our brand brings together a lot of the work we’ve been doing together over the past few years, to help ensure that Fime is even more relevant to customers and prospects in a world that is rapidly changing before us.’

18th November 2020

Create A Healthy Home Office

- Q. How do you make your home office healthy? -

Author: John Galpin, Co-Founder Design by Structure

John Galpin

For those of us who have worked in co-working spaces that encourage mobility and interaction, you need to think about your home office in the same way – think designated zones.

Create multiple workspaces to complete different tasks in different places. For instance, have a quiet space with a closable door for meetings, find a space by a window where there’s a lot of natural light for powering through work, and use the sofa when you don’t want to be by yourself.

You don’t have to be inside all the time – work from your garden in the summer, go for a walk, do conference calls on the move, and get out whenever you can.

And if you don’t have a lot of space at home, then get creative and add new workspaces – a friend’s home, a pub, a coffee shop (when we are allowed again), or a park.

Mix it up and thrive, just like you did when you were in the office.

This comment appeared in Management Today.

30th October 2020

The Power of Emojis

- Q. Should emojis be banned from work emails? -

Author: Nicole Clemens, CEO Design by Structure

Emojis shouldn’t be banned from work emails and if we think about them in terms of semiotics then emojis are simply visual language cues.

Workplace communications are going through a huge transition right now, so we need to adapt and be flexible in how we convey thoughts, ideas and ultimately stay connect with each other.

The written word can often be misinterpreted in terms of the intended tone, so adding an emoji can support the intent and be beneficial to the reader. When it comes to liaising with clients and the use of emojis, it just depends on the nature of the relationship and the content of the message as to whether these are appropriate. If you’re talking to a sales & marketing team then is a simple extension of an existing business vernacular, if you are about to launch a piece of comms then has its place. More and more we are connecting and communicating with clients in Slack so is a universal language that is relevant and understood in addition to saving everyone time.

This comment appeared in Management Today.