[EP 043] Insights into Brand Strategy and Rebranding for Business (Part 1)


CLICK HERE to download the transcript for this episode.

Episode Highlights:

  • Why Consider a Rebrand
  • Rebranding in the SME Environment
  • Bringing the Brand to Life
  • Identifying with the Brand
  • The ROI in Brand Strategy and Rebranding
  • Multiple Brands Under One Umbrella
  • The Brandswell Mark – Stakeholder Engagement
  • What to Look Forward to in Part 2
  • [BONUS] Brandswell’s Tactile Business Card

Hi, it’s Joanna Oakey here and welcome back to Talking law – a podcast brought to you by our commercial legal practice, Aspect Legal.

Welcome to part one another insightful two-part series. In this episode, we introduce you to the fascinating world of brand strategy and rebranding for businesses both large and small.

To help us dig deeper into this area, we brought along Sophie Bartho, founder and managing director of Brandswell – which is a boutique agency focused on brand strategy and communication.

Sophie has been in the game for decades and her experience in the industry led to Brandswell’s unique methodology in creating simple and effective brand strategies. You won’t want to miss it!

So, let’s dive right in!  



Joanna: Hi Sophie, thank you so much for joining us today on Talking Law.

Sophie: Thank you, Jo. It’s a privilege to be joining you.

Joanna: Great. Well, look. In our discussions in the past I guess I felt that you would have so much to contribute to our Talking Law listeners, not just because of some of the big brand names that you’ve worked on but also because you have lived the life of building a business yourself with your own agency, right?

Sophie: Yes, yes. I’ve been in the game a few too many years and started by, you know, previously I had a full service agency and currently we have more of a boutique offering where we focus wholly and solely on brand strategies and how that plays out in communication and marketing.

Joanna: Yeah, right. And I think it’s really important you know that mix between having worked in the big end of town, understanding deeply some of the quality drivers behind what you’re doing but also then understanding smaller business and business from a commercial context yourself. Because you’ve actually owned and operated a business that’s a really unique mix and I think something that must help you deliver a really innovative and useful service for the range of clients that you have whether they’re small or large.

Sophie: Yeah, well thank you Jo. It’s interesting because what I find is it doesn’t matter how big or small an organisation is, we will then need to go through the same process. It’s all about being inclusive and taking people on the journey. And what I do love is the diversity. We work for large and small clients, but we also work across multiple sectors so it makes it more challenging. It makes it more demanding in that you can’t get cookie cutter in your solutions.

The journey can be challenging and it can be equally delightful and validating. - Sophie Bartho #TalkingLawPodcast #Rebranding Click To Tweet


Why Consider a Rebrand

Joanna: Okay. All right, so today we’re talking specifically about re-branding for business and we’re talking both re-branding for small and I guess also for large businesses. So let’s start at the very beginning. Why are we talking about this topic? Why should businesses consider something like branding or rebranding if they’ve already got a brand? Why is it important?

Sophie: There’s lots of factors that can contribute to why you should consider a rebrand. I think in simple terms you can look at the internal factors and then the external factors.

Internally, it might be about talent retention and acquisition and about elevating your brand to make sure it is being seen and heard by the best talent in the marketplace. It can also be about aligning the internal stakeholders. You might find that the business has evolved and matured and grown. Your team is bigger, but all of the team may not be necessarily on the same page and understanding where the organisation is going. So it’s a really powerful process to create that alignment.

You might also be shifting your direction and that might be impacted through a merger and an acquisition or through organic growth. So there’s lots of internal factors.

And then externally, the marketplace might have changed. New competitors might have entered. The marketplace is always evolving and then the consumer needs might also be changing. So all of those factors can influence your awareness to the need to consider a rebrand.

Joanna: Okay. And it’s interesting, all of these elements that you’re talking about I guess by implication it means then when you’re at this point of rebranding you’re going to need to ask some deep questions about how you want to be represented in the market.

Sophie: Yes. Lots of deep questions and that’s actually the I think we feel is our sweet spot. We’ve had clients say to us that it was like therapy having gone through the process and the methodology that we use. We do a lot of deep diving and ask some questions that would probably be surprising because they’re not necessarily, one would say, business oriented. And that’s one of the key questions – why are you doing this? Why the peak? Why do you get out of bed every day and come to work and do what you do?

And when you start peeling back those layers and really understanding why executive staff members and the various stakeholders are invested in this brand and committed to this brand, it’s really really interesting and it’s just a privilege to hear their stories.

Joanna: And do you find people who participate in this process properly? You know, if it surprise themselves with what comes out of this process then?

Sophie: Yes. You know they might think that they’re in transport. But it’s inevitably a much deeper motivation that inspires them and keeps them going because let’s face it, business isn’t always easy and that then informs where you’re going.

In corporate terms, we often talk about our vision and our purpose but it’s getting deeper into the human attributes that are driving that direction.


Rebranding in the SME Environment

Joanna: And so, I can feel maybe some of our listeners who are smaller businesses might think “Okay. Well, that’s all very well and good for large businesses but is it applicable to me.”

So I guess my question to you is, is rebranding from this deeper perspective, is this applicable only to large organisations or do you think it’s also applicable to the SME environment?

Sophie: Absolutely applicable to the SME environment.

It’s about building the really solid foundations for the brand and understanding why you’ve made those decisions and what it represents. I think it’s important to start with understanding what is a brand and a brand isn’t the logo. It’s not the little icon that you stick on the pocket of a T-shirt or on the tip of the pen. It’s what’s behind that identity.

There’s some fundamentals that we believe build that brand. First and foremost, the core values so what are the values that the brand stands behind. Then those four or five core values influence every decision wrapped around that is then the culture of the organisation. We then look at the benefits, so the rationale, what one gets from the brand and also how the brand makes one feel. From there we like to dive into the proof points and this is where it can get very very interesting, where we look for the evidence to validate those benefits.

And that might be around the tenure of the organisation, sales, growth, but really tangible metrics that we can use to validate what we’ve said previously in terms of those benefits, the culture and the values. And then we start defining the value proposition and then the brand essence which is where we get into that really pointy end about the Why.


Bringing the Brand to Life

Joanna: How does this all culminate in the brand at the end of the day? You’re doing all of this work behind working out values and culture and then somehow this all has to come together in something fairly snappy, right? How does that work? How do we get there?

Sophie: Fairly snappy, and then very visual.

Once we’ve defined the brand in that strategy, we can then start to bring it to life in a visual identity. The reason the brand strategy needs to come before that visual is so that you can make very informed decisions.

So when you’re evaluating the logo, the visual identity, positioning statements, campaign messages, you can then go back to that brand strategy and say “Well, is it aligned? Does it reflect our core values? Does it represent that culture that we are committed to nurturing and governing?”  

And so, it’s this constant check in reference point for when you start making those key marketing and communication decisions.

The reason the brand strategy needs to come before that visual is so that you can make very informed decisions. - Sophie Bartho #TalkingLawPodcast Click To Tweet


Identifying with the Brand

Joanna: And so then once we have a brand presumably there is a process that needs to be worked through to ensure that you know, staff within the organisation identify and connect to that brand as well. How do you do that? What’s the process for that?

Sophie: I’m so glad you asked because that’s actually the very beginning.

We believe very very fundamentally that you need to bring and involve all your stakeholders on that journey. We can’t actually define your brand strategy until we start talking to and listening to those stakeholders. Again, we think it’s important to talk to your internal stakeholders and also your external stakeholders. And that can be quite unusual because often businesses are thinking about the consumer or the customer of their products and services, and they are more externally focused.

Whereas we believe you need to look at both the internal and external and capture their stories, their experiences of your brand and then that will inform the strategy. And it’s also quite fun. We talk to our clients about being very very broad in that stakeholder process and we like to talk to the collaborators, as we call them, those who really support the process and have a sort of empathy for the project and why we’re investing in a rebrand.

We like to talk to the cynics – those who question it and wonder whether it’s even worthwhile. We like to talk to the critics – those who might be quite overtly or sometimes covertly expressing an opinion that this is a waste of time and money, and also the creatives – those who think they’ve already got it solved. You know this is what we should do, this is how it should look, this is what we should say.

By involving all of those different personalities within the organisation and external to the organisation, then you get a really really solid perspective on what your brand means to these stakeholders and what’s important to them and how it might be reflected in the strategy going forward.



Let’s Take A Break

Let’s take a short break.

When we come back, we’ll take a hard look at the return on investment in rebranding for your organisation. We’ll also talk about this common scenario of businesses having multiple brands within one umbrella. We’ll investigate whether the set up is good or bad.

And that’s next. I’m Joanna Oakey and you’re listening to Talking Law. – a podcast brought to you by Aspect Legal.


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Welcome Back

Welcome back! Earlier we talked about why and when you should consider a rebrand for your business, and how this approach is applicable, not only for those large organisations, but is equally effective and important for smaller businesses as well. Sophie also walked us through the process of bringing the brand to life in a fairly snappy and visual way, whilst also still ensuring that both internal and external stakeholders are able to identify with it.

Now let’s keep the conversation going and discuss how brand strategy and rebranding can impact your bottomline.


The ROI in Brand Strategy and Rebranding  

Joanna: Maybe let’s start for some of the cynics out there. Let’s start with some really hard return on investment type analysis.

Where does the major return come from an organisation in a measurable sense and we’ll talk later then about perhaps some softer areas.

Sophie: Yes. Well look, the key one is growth.

Is the business actually growing? Is that being demonstrated in sales volumes?

It might be a shift in gross profit because of efficiencies. That’s one of the key factors that we see happening where by having a very very clear strategy, you create efficiencies and more alignment within the organisation.

Joanna: What’s an example of that? What’s an example of brand rebranding impact that has then impacted strategy that then creates a higher return?

Sophie: Oh gosh. One that comes to mind is we took, it was actually a mushroom grower and they had five different brands. As such, they were struggling to compete in the marketplace to the major leading competitor. But by bringing those five brands together under one unified brand, it created efficiencies in their marketing spend. It also meant they could actually compete quite aggressively with this market leader.

Joanna: Okay, fabulous. And why did they have five brands?

Sophie: It was actually a family business and so different members of the family had different business units within, I’ll call it an umbrella brand. But it had never considered how they relate and or don’t relate, and the impact it was having in the marketplace on their brand reputation and even their sales.

So we went through a very rigorous process of that stakeholder engagement as we talked about. We went on and spoke to their customers, major retailers in Australia. We spoke to the internal stakeholders and you can imagine very different personalities and very different priorities.

However, by creating one strategy and confirming that alignment going forward, it has just had a very smooth flow and effect in rolling out a rebrand and all the different stakeholders adopting that rebrand.


Multiple Brands Under One Umbrella  

Joanna: Yes. It’s interesting you say that, because I can certainly think of a lot of organisations that we’ve had contact with over time who run multiple brands under an umbrella and I hear in what you’re saying at the moment that maybe that’s not always the best way, to have multiple brands under one umbrella.

Sophie: It comes back to what the brand is doing and representing for that organisation.

If the brand is providing a very different service and or product to the marketplace then the differentiation makes sense. But often we find that when you dig into it a bit further, they’re almost internal competitors. So that can be a very important reason to then come together and create alignment and drive efficiencies through a singular brand as opposed to competing brands.

Joanna: So I guess what you’re saying here is maybe that businesses sometimes start dealing with goods and services in a particular way, their pitch to the market. Then they come up with something new, and the current brand they’re using doesn’t fit it so they come up with another brand for that and then they keep adding in this way. And then what you’re doing is you’re taking each of these elements and saying well none of the brands on their own represented what you are. So let’s come up with the brand that works across the whole. Is that effectively how that can work?

Sophie: Yeah, that’s certainly one example. Every organisation is different and it really is about the journey that they’ve been on.

Some have evolved and they have shifted their direction and what they are offering in the marketplace. And then there’s other times where they have acquired additional brands or created new brands within their portfolio and you just need to pause occasionally and think “Okay. Are they all relevant?” Who are we serving through these different brands? And is there any efficiencies to be gained by being a little bit ruthless and simplifying the model?

By bringing your staff with you as part of the rebranding process, they then have more connection to where it is that they're going together. - Joanna Oakey #TalkingLawPodcast #Rebranding Click To Tweet


The Brandswell Mark – Stakeholder Engagement  

Joanna: Okay, fabulous. All right. So we talked about one of the positive impacts of rebranding being the contribution to strategy and then you know the bottom line at the end of the day. What other positive impacts have you seen on organisations?

Sophie: Look one of them is around that stakeholder engagement and particularly the internal stakeholders where you can see a significant uplift in motivation and commitment to the organisation. They can be also a significant shift in clarity around “why are we doing this?” And that in itself creates other efficiencies where people aren’t second guessing, people aren’t questioning or challenging directions and decisions.

Joanna: It sounds like that comes not just from the brand itself but from the process that has contributed to the creation of the brand. Because you’re bringing them with you as part of the process, they then have more connection to where it is that they’re going together, the vision.

Sophie: Yes. The process is absolutely key. As I said, it’s about bringing people on the journey.

Often we’ll be engaged and there’ll be somebody tasked with the project and it will be, “Yeah, we need a new brand.” And they’re quite surprised when we say, “Okay. Well, we now like to start talking to your board members, your chairperson, staff throughout the organisation.”

They often think we only need to speak to senior leaders. So no, no. The receptionist can often have some of the greatest insights about the culture and the organisation and what the brand represents. The other interesting thing is when we start talking to their external stakeholders such as the customers and the consumer, and as I said you get a very very broad perspective and it’s really delightful and surprising when you start to see some of the consistencies coming out. The journey can be challenging and it can be equally delightful and validating.


What to Look Forward to

JoannaSo that’s it for part one of our two part series on brand strategy and rebranding for business with Sophie Bartho of Brandswell.

If you found today’s podcast interesting, you might want to pop over to our website at Talking Law dot com dot au. There you can get a free transcript of this podcast episode.

Next week, look out for part 2 of this series, where Sophie runs us through some real-life examples of rebranding done right and on the flip side, what can go wrong when rebranding isn’t done as successfully as it could be.

We also talk about the things you need to consider when using names of partners or founders in your brand, along with some key questions you will need to ask yourself to know whether or not a rebrand is necessary for your business.

And finally, I round out the discussion by talking about a few legal issues that rebranding brings up – and how best to deal with those. If you want to hear more about the legal issues relating to branding, then join us after the end of this 2 part series, where we have an entire episode devoted to the legal issues in branding and rebranding.

And if you can’t wait for then, then you can check out some past episodes of Talking Law where we discuss brand protection strategies, in particular episode 5 where I discuss the basics of trademarks, and episodes 25 and 29 where we go into a bit more detail about trademarks and brand protection.

If you would like to hear more from Sophie, then pop across to our sister podcast The Deal Room. In episode 23 of The Deal Room we chat with Sophie about the relevance of brand and communication in the area of business sales and acquisitions.

Ok well that’s it for us, you have been listening to Joanna Oakey and Talking Law, brought to you by Aspect Legal.

And for anyone who is still listening, we’ve got a short little outro here that is something that I recorded with Sophie before we started proper recording for this episode. This is often what I’ll do with guests who are on Talking Law or who might be on our sister podcast The Deal Room.

Often we’ll chat a bit about business before we start recording the session that we’re recording for you the listener. In this case, Sophie talks about her business card and I talk about my impression of her business card. I just thought it might have been useful to include here as an outro for anyone who is still listening just in terms of seeing how some businesses apply the concept of branding to their tactile things like their business cards.

So here you go.


Brandswell’s Tactile Business Card

Sophie: And we’re good to go. Okay. So yeah the business is called Brandswell and it’s about growing brands well and for me that’s about growing brands with authenticity and truth.

Joanna: There you go. I love it. You walk your talk. You’ve got you know a really well thought out brand I like it. Brands-well, there you go.

I like your business card how you’ve got the name on the back and then it sort of imprints in to the front like is there is there you know a branding reason behind that? Is does you know is there a deeper reason? Or is it just because it looks really funky which it does. It looks very funky.

Sophie: Look I like textures. And I wanted it to be slightly memorable but without being too clever. So you know there’s you can do different sized business cards you can make them bigger and smaller and you know they can they can look really great but they can also be a pain in the arse. They don’t fit or you know they’re too small, they get lost. So there’s nothing for me it wasn’t mainly around that you know wanting a texture to have a little experience with the card cause people do. They run their finger over it and go “Ooh!”

Joanna: And so for people who have no idea what we’re talking about here. We have a business card that has the brand the company name brands well on the back. And then that imprints through to the front. So when you look at the card on the front with Sophie’s name on it, you just you’ve got this imprint and a mirror image of the name of the brand. And you do you just want to run your finger across it. It’s very a very tactile card. I really like it.

Sophie: Well, and see for us a brand is about the experiences you have with it and that’s why we wanted just our business card to be a little mini experience.

Joanna: I love it. I love it. Sophie I have no idea whether we’re going to be able to fit that into any of our any of the podcast but it was an interesting discussion anyway. Let’s let’s see what the team can do with that whether they can find a spot to put that in where it works. We’ll see.

Well, it sounds like the team did find a way to put that discussion in there.

Anyway, that’s it for this episode. Thank you once again for joining us. You’ve been listening to Joanna Oakey and Sophie Bartho and you’ve been listening to Talking Law.