How to Build A Winning Brand

An interview with Richard Bird President of R.BIRD a brand identity and communications consulting firm.

Brand design is about helping companies communicate their mission, values, brand personality and unique positioning clearly to your consumers.


B2BNXT: Hi Richard. Thanks for joining us.

RICHARD: Hello. Thanks for having me.

B2BNXT: Can you tell me what problem do you solve?

RICHARD: I’m a brand designer and I like to say that I help small teams build big brands and that could be a startup around the corner or it could be a suite of C level executives in a multinational corporation.

B2BNXT: Can you teach me something? How would I go about thinking about building a big brand… The thought process?

RICHARD: It’s interesting you ask that question and use the word process because we’ve developed a repeatable, actionable, successful method for approaching creative problem solving. It’s a suite of exercises. Very simple exercises, but when put together always produce extraordinary results and it also scales. It doesn’t require a large investment, time or money necessarily. It can be done in three days or it can be done in three weeks. But the results are repeatable every time.

B2BNXT: Can you make it a little more tangible for me? What does it look like? Is the workshop you come in and you take the team through a series of questions? How does it work?

RICHARD: Well, we examine each problem on its own merits and we determine ourselves which exercises from the suite that we developed are appropriate for that particular situation. Through a series of exercises, part of our process proceed. We analyze very carefully the competition, the marketplace and the customer and we look for gaps. We look for an opening where there’s strongest potential for a brand to compete and that’s in terms of its name, what it’s called, what its key messages are, what it wants to say to consumers, even the colors that are used in the marketing communications can make a difference. Let’s say we’re working on a healthy food product and if you looked at the marketplace, you could say, well there’s lots of green. If we want to differentiate instead of using green, let’s use something completely wildly opposite from that.

RICHARD: Let’s say purple and that’ll break through in the category and get attention. That’s particularly important if you’re a new brand.

B2BNXT: Can you share any examples of brands you work with and what you did with them? Maybe like a mini case study.

RICHARD: There are plenty of examples. There’s one that comes to mind, and this was a small startup company. A Father and son team up in Vermont, and they had developed a potato chip. A Kettle cooked potato chip that had some health aspects to it, but it was… Bottom line, it was just a delicious potato chip. Unfortunately, the way that they presented the brand, I hate to say it looked like some sort of poison control product. So we convinced them that they needed to do something with their brand in order to strengthen their position in the marketplace. So we did exactly the kinds of things that we’ve just talked about for them and we developed a clear brand language for them that didn’t completely throw away what they had done, but leveraged it in a much better way.

RICHARD: This is significant because the only thing that we changed for them in the end was the design of their packaging and the brand. Nothing else changed. In other words, their marketing programs didn’t change. Their distribution didn’t change. There were no changes other than just the brand and packaging that we did. In the first year after that redesign, they saw a 1000% increase in distribution. So they went from essentially a $1 million company to a $10 million company within 12 months and now they are beginning to get the attention of some much larger competitors. So ultimately their potato chip was bought by a very large, well known snack chip company.

B2BNXT: All that was from redesigning a package?

RICHARD: Just that.

B2BNXT: If you’re somebody who is looking for a brand redesign or you don’t know how to take your brand to the next level, how do you figure out who to work with? How do you find… How do you say, Richard is the right person to take me there?

RICHARD: Honestly, that’s very difficult because there are very many agencies out there now that look and sound and feel the same and use a lot of the same words, et Cetera. So I sympathize with people who are in that position looking for a resource or a new resource or whether they’re experienced with buying that kind of work or not. It’s difficult.

B2BNXT: If your budget is very limited, do you have any advice on where you should look at first or how to approach that?

RICHARD: I would recommend doing a brand audit and what that does is take a high level view of where you’re at right now with your brand and your consumers and your competition. At the end of that brand audit step, we deliver a clear list, let’s say 10 things that you can do to strengthen your brand in the marketplace and grow the brand. Each one of those 10 things could be done individually or together as a suite of projects.

B2BNXT: I think it’s always very interesting I ask this question, what works best for you? Maybe how do you present your brand or how do you win your clients?

RICHARD: Word of mouth is always good. I’d say most of our business comes from referrals, from people who have experienced wild successes with our brand development. But I’m having a lot of fun and some good results now with LinkedIn. I’ve got just about 5,000 followers there, and I post regularly on topics that are interesting to designers and our clients.

B2BNXT: What types of posts are you making? Are they text? Are they links to your blog? Are they videos?

RICHARD: Mostly text articles, but some videos around the works.

B2BNXT: Okay. That was great. Thank you very much for sharing all these insights. It was very helpful.

RICHARD: Oh, you’re very welcome, and it’s been my pleasure.



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