I’m Stef Hamerlinck. A brand designer and strategist. I founded Let’s talk branding so I can help other designers learn more about strategy, design and branding.

LTB S2 014 Camille Baldwin - Launching brands at Gin Lane

LTB S2 014 Camille Baldwin - Launching brands at Gin Lane


“Brands, Put your money where your mouth is.”

In this episode I talk with Camille Baldwin. Camille is a really interesting woman, as director of brand development at Gin Lane, she has created some amazing brands with her team. We talk about launching brands, strategy and much more. You can find the full excerpt below the sponsored message.

You can find the full transcript below the sponsored message on this page.

We talk about:

  • How Camille ended up at Gin Lane, an awesome studio

  • Avoiding cliché’s in strategy and messaging

  • Working with startups

  • How to launch a brand

  • I mention ‘Jessica Simpson Hitch’ in the podcast, I actually meant Summer Teal Simpson Hitch, Apologies Summer! You can find a link to the article I mention here

  • How the market will evolve and how customers are reading trough the bs

  • How B2B brands are becoming more and more brand led

  • How to create strategy for startups

You can connect with Camille on her Linkedin or website.

I'd appreciate it if you could rate the podcast on itunes. It will help me in reaching other designers.

This episode is supported by HolaBrief

Very few projects end up with exceptional results. HolaBrief makes it easy to ask all the right questions and nail your design brief every time. Built by designers, for designers. Get early access to Holabrief by subscribing now.

I think again it consumers are starting to call bullshit and and also desire something that just actually really feels authentic. They don't just it's not just saying it and it's not just a kitty witty voice on a brand or really, you know, interesting design. It's putting their money where their mouth is and actually showing real people and hey there first off I want to take a minute to thank all our brief. They've been sponsoring this podcast season. And there are a bunch of amazing people hold a brief is an online environment that allows you to create better design briefs their set of easy and accessible strategic exercises allows me and the client to get on the same page very quickly. I suggest you go take a look yourself at all our brief.com. In this episode I talk with Camille Baldwin. She's partner and director of brand development at gin Lane gently in isn't awesome agency that created some of the most epic brand projects that are out there right now. I talked with Camille about brand strategy Bridging the Gap between strategy and Creative Solutions how to launch a brand how to uncover a Brand's purpose and much more Camille is a really interesting person and I really hope you enjoy this. Guest episode of the season the last episode we'll be talking about the most valuable lessons from this second podcast season. So I really hope you will take a listen to that. So buckle up and let's dog Branning. Hey, I'm Camille Baldwin and I am the director of brand at gin Lane, which is a creative agency based in Chinatown in New York City and have been yeah heading up the practice. For about five and a half years now started it with engine Lane when we were just a more of a digital agency and have kind of become more branding focused as we've worked with early stage startups primarily. Mmm. How did you end up by the company such as generally? What was your background? What did you study? Yeah, so I have a bit of a Meandering path and my career. I studied politics and art history in Washington DC. And when I graduated I was a bit already jaded on politics. So when into sort of. World which was I was Consulting for a technology company that does a product for the government so for procurement system, so it was not super exciting, but it was an excellent sort of basis for learning strategy. And yeah, just how things operate on a large scale and then how did you end up doing breast strategy at Jin Ling? Yes. Oh, so I have is doing consulting for about six years and then had a bit of a change of heart and said I like the strategy chops that I've gained here. But I really was itching to do something creative. And so actually I went back to school at Parsons here in New York to focus on a fashion degree. And that was particularly interesting to me at the time because I thought okay if I'm going to go into any creative world that one is. Personally appealing to me but it was a really great program because they give you a very broad look at at things I think many things nowadays especially can be considered fashion brands. And so it was a great foundation and I guess do a couple of internships here and there within the fashion community and towards the end of that I decided I didn't necessarily want to go in House at a brand. I was really still enjoying client services and one of my professors told me about gin Lane and. I called applied and at the time they were much more focused on bigger Brands and digital work. And so I came on the team to work with our client at the time which was Adidas women and it was kind of when social media was just kicking off and so we were running their social media community and. Doing some design and development for their website. So it was a really really exciting time. When all that was kind of new and forming and I felt you know, really like I get to kind of shape it as the market was emerging for that. Now I saw Jen lainson latest project the hens project which I was really a huge fan of and I really love gin Lane as like an agency. They do amazing work for the people that don't know the studio. Could you like just give us a little bit of inside of who they are? Yes, so so gin Lane is a like I said a small creative agency based in New York City and we primarily work with early stage startups. So we do a lot of brand building and website building to launch Brands to market for the first time. So a lot of them that we work with are in their sort of seed stage of. Of funding or will work with ones that have sort of recently launched but didn't yet focus on really telling their story or shaping their brand and so they need a bit of a refresher repositioning. And so those are more, you know, a little bit further along and their life cycle more series a series B Saoirse, but I would say the bread-and-butter that we do is really those brand launches. Of which it was was one of them. Yeah. All right. That's something that's really fascinating for me is like a couple of years back. When we also I also have a small studio and we were thinking about okay, we need to stop working with with these startup companies because a to go they don't have any money and B, they all have this philosophy of like the Lean Startup where they really wanted. Try some things out and see if it sticks in the market and I do believe there are some valid points to be made there. But like this is what really struck me when I saw gin Lane and some other Studios lately like the how do you manage to work with these kind of startups? Of course, I suppose these budgets are bigger, but do they still have this philosophy and how do you change it? Yeah, so I'll a couple of questions all for unpack. I think just in terms of the budgets. It's yeah, we definitely are working with a crop of startups that are most typically venture-backed. It's not a rule that we have per say but I would say, you know, the the majority probably even 80% of them have some sort of venture funding behind them. And I think that's helpful. Not just from the budgetary standpoint, but also from the standpoint of having gone through the fundraising. Process really helps them to sort of validate their idea and make sure they have product Market fit make sure they have a clear value proposition a published because I think many people have the misconception that branding sort of gives that to you and it's really important that you have the value prop of what your product or your service is established ahead of time and our job. Brand people is to really extract the interesting parts of that that will really resonate with the consumer and try to tell that story and like I said interesting way. From the standpoint of yeah them having sort of wacky ideas. I mean that that's what makes the job fun. Honestly is we all have wacky ideas. It's this it's this stage when it's everything is a wet canvas and you're continuing to paint on it and paint on it and it can be sort of unnerving at times because you know, there's times when you feel like you're far from definition, but I think that's also what kind of makes us good at is were a group of people. Who are comfortable in that ambiguity, but also we are it's our job to put definition around that ambiguity and to sort of close some doors so that the brand isn't everything to everyone and the company actually is really clear on what it's providing to the market. Do you ever feel like what you're creating can can easily shift in like six months later because of their still like early in the market then they're still trying things. Oh, yeah, definitely definitely and I think it's not even it's not a bad thing necessarily. I think that's just a function sometimes of what you're trying to do it. It's interesting some of the companies that we've worked with in sort of like New York direct consumer landscape are very much trying new categories even like they're not just you know, a lot of them are a tooth pressure or a razor or a mattress, but there's some like one of the companies we work with. Hello Alfred which is a really interesting concept is sort of this a comb concierge that. It helps you with all of your chores in your errands. And and when we were working with them, it was very much, you know still hadn't eaten concept and it was interesting to go like, okay, what's the verb for this? What's the noun for this? Like, what is this thing? And so those by Nature, you know actually have to do a little bit more Evolution once they're in market to continue that definition. But it yeah, I wouldn't say it's a bad thing per se. I think you use as a brand strategist yourself and and gin Lane you have been part of like this this new wave of Brands like as you mentioned Casper and and Warby Parker and hymns and so on like this direct to Consumer Brands and how do you see this evolved in the near future? And what does it mean for our jobs as designers and strategists? Yeah, it's been it's been a fascinating Evolution and everything is happening just be extremely rapidly. I mean War be oh God. I don't know. They're probably five six seven years old and and already they're sort of the. I don't know Star Wars is the right word. But like this this institution in the market that everyone looks to now and even their a young company, which is incredible and I think there's a couple of things at hand one is just I think consumers today are. A real desire to have relationships with their brands, you know brands are part of their identity. And so they really are looking for something that isn't just a transaction. It's not just something they're they're buying it at a store and then they forget about it's very much, you know, you kind of vote with your wallet. So to speak in each brand that they choose kind of said something about them. And so I think that that drives a need for more thoughtfulness in terms of. Not just the veneer or the design of the brand but also the meaning behind it and the intentions that the company puts out there and I think that's a lot of our job is is as strategist is to provide meaning to all that they're doing as a company and we're telling stories of these interesting business models and connecting them to Consumers. So consumers feel a deep attachment to them for the long term and and something I've noticed just in the last probably year is that. More and more companies and this sort of agnostic of model whether your direct consumer or not. I think more and more companies are realizing this need to create attachment with consumers and I think that's coming from Brands like apple and Nike where they've done credible jobs of being belief LED an emotional LED. And so I think we're seeing more and more of a brand start to pick that up. As something they need to do but what I'm starting to see is there sort of a theme of people now just grasping onto the same emotions. And so I think there's going to be a next wave or next level where it's going to be starting to. Have Brands put their money where their mouth is and really be a little bit more real and showcasing real life as opposed to this sort of aspirational Notions of what you could be or what you want to be and I think that sort of led by where the consumer has is at right now to just having. So much information available to them they can smell bullshit immediately and Brands need to keep up with that and appetite that consumer sentiment. Yeah, and that's something that's really I think it's a bit scary as well. Like we're seeing a lot of brands that are becoming a lot more authentic and in the same time, it's already I think this is more because we're probably in the field like it's already feeling a bit like that. That's it's already pass a like. It's oh my God another brand that wants to be at. Take Em and that's like an interesting thing where this will go like what will Brands try in the next few years to to build this relation. You have any like IDs on what's coming for that? Yeah, definitely. It's funny. I actually intentionally didn't use that word specifically because I think it's lost its meaning. So many Brands come to us in our early process, they'll come to us and say we want to be authentic. We want an authentic story and that's not something you can manage manufacturer and it you the nature of the word means that you can't manufacture at so it's yeah, it's really it's interesting. I think when there is a market opportunity reason for starting a brand versus a Founder lead story or me. Or belief or you know, something happened to them that's really driving them towards this that's an authentic story. And yes that makes it you know easier better to connect with but that doesn't mean that the market opportunity is any lesser but. Do you have to find other ways of deriving or creating and fusing authenticity? And I think that's where I kind of alluded to this. But I think where the market is going is starting to sort of debunk a lot of the marketing that's been happening over the last decade or two. I think, you know in the last couple of years we've seen so many brands that especially more fashion letter are so aspirational and sort of selling you this. His vision of who you could be if you only had this product or you know what your lifestyle looks like, if you're part of this gang and I think again it consumers are starting to call bullshit and and also desire something that just actually really feels authentic. I don't just it's not just saying it and it's not just. A kitty witty Voice or on a brand or really, you know interesting design. It's putting their money where their mouth is and actually showing real people and. I think we're finding that like I think glossy a is doing an incredible job of that with their foreskin is in theme of the brand which is hey the beauty industry has been telling us for years and years and years that we have to be made up and that's Perfection and that's Glamour and that's Beauty and. Fuck that. You don't have to do that. You know, it's the new cool is sort of celebrating who you are and who you are already and let's just, you know, have fun with that and make that mistake better. And so I think a lot of brands are starting to follow suit with that and I think we'll see a lot more of it as as the year year and a couple next couple of years progressed. Yeah, and this reminds me of an article. I read that I think was. Jessica Simpson hedge from Focus lab where she was talking about the brand behavior and how important it is to not only like think about the the visual part and the strategy but also about how to Brad will behave in real life. And I think that's something really important. How do you guys at gin Lane think about the brand experience and how and the behavior? Yeah, I think it's something we think about constantly and our process is really designed to be articulate it and constantly beat it up. So I think at a. A philosophical level one of one of the things that we really believe is that brands should feel human and they should feel like you're interacting with a person and that it has, you know, human qualities, especially in that the traditional Native brand era. It's so important and so we really like Brands like Pixar or even like the, you know marvel and their series of comics and all their characters we. Like when things are inanimate or technical but they are personified with human traits. And so like a you know, like a wildly is a robot but it has all these rounded curves and his voice is really cute and his expressions are really animated. And so our process is designed such that. We start with strategy and and start very much where Brandon meets business like, you know, making sure again, we understand the business model. We understand the value proposition and that were strategically telling that story and positioning it well in the market, but immediately following that we then start to say, okay, but if that is a person how do you personify that and how do you bring that story truly to life? And so we'll start to kind of you know, put characteristics. Traits and things like that to a Brandon and start to play with like different worlds at the Buran can live in creatively from a voice perspective individual perspective and we'll ask questions like, you know, if this if this were a kid, who would he sit with at the lunch table kind of thing and I do those deep metaphors, but the way I think this is really validated. In this the way that our process is designed we actually because we have in-house interactive design and Technology. It really helps us validate that work and to thread the needle all the way through the consumer experience whether it's on their website or an app we're making sure that you know all of those. Intentions and strategies actually really come to life in the even say like a checkout flow on a website or the way that you, you know, see your salad on a app for ordering. So that's really exciting is it's not just strategy it becomes strategy into execution. That's that's something that's really interesting to me. And I've been thinking about it and talking with my team about it a lot. It's like when for me I'm doing a lot of strategy and I'm also doing a bit design. I used to be a designer more than a strategist and now it's the other way around but when I'm when I'm doing strategy then I've also over the project to our art director and it's like kind of funny like when you're two months into the project and you see some web design or something. Sometimes it's hard to like make sure that the strategy part is still alive. Like how do you inspire creatives to to to think about the strategy all the time? And how do you keep that alive? Yeah, it's a great question. And it's something that I think is an ongoing process. I don't want to call it an ongoing struggle. I almost did but it's something to be mindful of throughout the entire creation process and we actually refer to it in our agency as the weave. I'm always saying like Okay, we found people let's we've you know strategist creative strategist designer strategist designers like. One needs to constantly be informing the other and so we organized such that we have two different teams sort of working to build these startups. And the my team that I lead is the brand Team. So we're doing a lot of the foundations of the strategy and visual identity and voice and we call it like personality design. But then the other team is the experienced team of again making it a reality making come to life through a website or an app or some sort of, you know, digital tool or or even adds down the road and so. What we do logistically is will always have members of that team sort of come up into our earlier process and have them just sit in so there's Fusion of ideas. And so they're they're hearing things from us early on and some of the tensions and things that were facing so that they are just mindful of those when they get to their process and then likewise we will sort of again thread the needle bringing brand strategy. Sitting into some of the website meetings and a lot of times when we will even have the brand strategy to start to do things like a Content narrative or an IA for a website because they're the ones that know how to tell that story and what story were telling and the nuances of just different levers to pull of the value prop and the emotional functional technical benefits that you're trying to convey to the consumer. So it's a lot of. Constantly, I'm curious. How does how does a team look like for example the brand Team how does it look like in terms of roles and people? Yes, so it's made up of strategists copy writers and designers and the the strategist are more brand focused obviously, you know getting into sort of those those existential questions of why how what for a brand and then, you know, the designers and copywriters are very strategic in nature and really good at building out a world that this brand can play in and sort parsing through all of the. Disabilities and then personifying it and then on the the experienced team, it's similar. It's also strategists. We keep the same copy writers throughout the whole thing just for consistency sake but then the strategist are more product focused. We have user experience strategists user experience designers, and then we have interactive designers as well as front and back-end technology. And you have like a very time frame work where client goes to strategy part and then the the logo is built and so on or how does it work or is really case for case thing. Yes. We have a pretty firm process for it. Actually. It's it's one of the things that I think helps us. Work with startups is is we have the framework down that we know what works and by no means is it the same as it was three years ago even I mean I've been for wind tunnel and over the years, but I think that's the thing that sort of remains steadfast while you have the the marrow of it within it as sort of the the chaos that happens because the business is evolving and changing and. Even products are being developed still as we're working on stuff. So the process is yeah very much starts with like a discovery type of phase where we are sort of like method acting John Malkovich Style putting on the hat of this this founder and this company and even the consumer and really understanding why does this need to exist today in this market? But then yeah, we'll will do, you know for four weeks of that. The definition of strategy and then we'll go into about typically like six weeks of visual identity designed to build out the whole system. So it is I would say one of the most tight timelines for Creative work. I think a lot of people when we interviewed or lost people in the past have been it's because of the timelines and they're very difficult to hit. But again, it's do that nature of everything being sort of a wet campus. It's also one of the most exciting things. I think that's absolutely yeah what really triggers me is like when I see your website and I see the projects. It's amazing the kind of work you are guys are attracting and I think a lot of people are wondering like. Are they just getting the best clients or are they pushing back so much on clients to create these amazing experience? Like which one is it? Yeah, I mean, it's I think it's a little bit of both. We're very very lucky in the the partners that we work with. We've got great relationships with several VC firms that sort of know. Hey if I'm investing in a company, I want to make sure it goes through this process and through us so and yeah, it's been a lot of fruit. And it growth and relationship building where will you know do a brand and then people will start to take notice and go. Okay, that feels good. But yeah, we always have this philosophy of sort of bet on the jockey not the horse. Obviously the business needs to feel sound and few needs to feel like okay, at least we believe in it, but we're very much. Really looking to the founders and who they are as people and can we can we build that relationship that we can push back on them? Because to your second point it is very much a collaborative effort where the founders often looking to us as a an extension of their team. And I think that's what makes this unique as an agency versus some of the more traditional agency models of advertising. Is that we are really sort of sitting face-to-face with them and trying to hold up a mirror to that founder and and push back on them for several things because we do know what has worked and what works based on this her way of thinking and and yeah, it is it is not always easy, but that's that's attention that I think again winterling makes makes great work. Have you had experiences where where things got wrong? I mean like because. It's still in its Venture capitalism. And it's Risky Business. Of course, have you had experiences where Brands didn't go off the way they shouldn't and how did you deal with that? Yeah, definitely. I think I mean there's so many variables that go into launching a brand to Market and and yeah, there's certainly been those times. I think you know, those are some of the hardest times because you wonder Kush what more could I have done or what? What didn't we see but it's interesting. It's still an evolution process. And so I think a lot of times when a brand launches and it doesn't feel quite you know, The nose / what we had all thought founder included. I don't need to even separate the two. It's still a good opportunity to say. Hey, we're early. And what can we learn from this like we're is this really not what the market wants or needs right now or did we articulated in the wrong way or do we even just have you know not quite the right resources on this I think you know sometimes with the startups those that are smaller especially if they don't have a creative team against. Continuing to develop out the brand yet. The brand is a priority for them. That's a huge tension and that it needs to be solved right away is if you are brand LED, you got to put the resources to it and you've got to continue with that same level of thought and intention and you know, Good design frankly throughout so you can continue hitting your message again. I think part of what makes friends successful is repetition repetition repetition and consistency and I think a lot of people get scared of that even out of the gate because they're saying like well, we just said that message. What are we doing? Why don't we try a new message? But now you got to keep hitting it over and over again. Yeah, and that must be hard for startups because there are all about like the whole feedback loop and reiterate and start again and just try again and that's something that's really I think it's hard for like I started to keep sticking to that message of course, right? Yeah because it's a lot of them will think like well, we're doing something right. So let's do more things right that are different and it's like nah. You're doing the right. So keep doing it. Right because if we've had success with a group of people, let's continue to sort of push the bounds of that message with larger and larger groups, I think. That's what Tim's is doing particularly. Well is they locked onto the messages that worked for them and they didn't pivot or change them that they just kept digging into it further and further and I think it's paying off your guys also do like the content creation on a longer term for this for this started after lunch or. For some of them. Yeah. It's actually something that we've done more and more of in the last few years. I think originally when we sort of shifted our model to focus more on startups and branding it was something that wasn't as exciting to us because we had kind of come from the world of marketing budgets and campaigns and ads and we were really more interested in building these foundational principles and. Fundamentals if you will and but as we've worked with more and more partners and develop deeper relationships, we have yes started to take on more and more of that because if we have been. Sort of the one to birth the brand with them and The Shepherd of of that message. Then it makes sense for us all to continue working together, especially if there's a good relationship and Vibe of collaboration. We just want to keep that going so yeah hinge is one of those that we have continued to work with and we're sort of, you know, an extension of their creative team and we've got a couple of other partners as well that will we've started to do more and more content creation and even adds. Yep. Yeah, that's a funny struggle. We've been having I don't want to name it a struggle of course, but it's like interesting where you start out doing these these classical marketing things and then you evolve doing more strategic thing and you really launch a brand and then all of a sudden it's like so hard to not go on with this client because you really want to do the brand right? And that's something I think a lot of studios are struggling with like and also that leads me to a question. How far do you go? Because I see you guys are thinking about the whole visual identity the web I think even the applications and so on and and probably even more like where does it stop? Do you do the interior as well? And where does it stop? It's a great question because it's something we have struggled with over the years. I think when we first started doing more of this type of work we thought oh man, we're doing it. Let's keep doing it. Let's do the Interiors lets, you know, do the ads let's do the TV commercial and. It's you can't do everything. So we I think we found our balance over the years of what we're really really good at and what we can influence but not necessarily be fully responsible for and I think it's a fine line, but you know, we've started to still dip more toes in the water of AD creation, but something like interior design / say we we don't have expertise on that directly. House, and so I think that's one of those areas where we started to influence it more. And so we work directly with interior design and architecture firms to brief them on the brand and really serve as a creative stakeholder during their processes as well. So that's it's been so fun because it's a way that we can learn those at the same time as doing them, but we're not again fully responsible nor should we be for for those types of things so, If we're doing, you know, some sort of retail space it is very important that the brand strategy and initial visual identity comes through it. It needs to be held true. And so I think there's there's times when a start-up will do retail first or if it's a food startup, they'll do the restaurant experience first before doing the brand and. It's really quite difficult in that sense in that you don't have I think of a brand is sort of like a hub and spoke where the Hub is your initial intentions and strategy and positioning in the spokes are the touch points that everyone's interacting with and it needs to be from the center out as opposed to the other way around it's really hard to sort of back into a fresh visual identity if the architecture is already done for a space. Hmm. Yeah, that's that's something that a lot of clients. Come to us for and that's really something I struggle with when they say like, okay, we need a strategy and maybe we'll probably need a website and some other stuff but we don't want to change the identity. That's something that almost like gut reaction feels so hard to work with. How do you deal with these kinds of questions? We tell them they're wrong. My plant gets it and it's hard because you know, we really had to earn trust over the years of saying that I think you know, you have you have to have the work to prove it that you know what you're talking about, but it's not the way to do it every every interaction a consumer has with your brand whether it's it's highly visual or not is an impression they have of it and they're all symbolic and. Laddering up to the larger mission of the company. And so if one of those is speaking an entirely different language than. Another say if the visual identity isn't updated but the website is consumers can smell it but from a mile away and maybe they don't smell it or identify it as oh, wow. This brand is inconsistent and they don't have the same visual identity. And I think it's more subconscious than that, but they feel something is off. And I think it the more of that you chip away at their trust and you chip away at their impressions of view as a really world-class brand and they start to I think that's what contributes to inauthenticity as well as when those things feel different. It doesn't feel like it's coming from a group of people. It feels like it's coming from a faceless nameless Corporation. I think I if I see Studios like Jane Lane, for example, and a lot of other good Studios that are out there. I do feel like there is a climate where companies are investing a lot more in design. Do you feel similar? Yeah, absolutely. I think that's why I feel so lucky that we are, you know getting such opportunities today because I think yeah design. It wasn't as important or wasn't held as in held in such high regard in previous years and I have I think there's a lot of reasons for that. But I'm I'm really excited that it is because I think it's a wonderful way. A tool for communication and the more tools you have and levers you have for communication with the consumer. The Richer their experience will be Mmm Yeah, and it's funny because when you said like some brands are brand let it made me think like are there any Brands today? That that aren't like Brent let even the the B2B Brands where they're thinking. There's a lot of B2B Brands nowadays that are thinking like, okay, maybe we need more human breath do feel the same. Oh, totally. Yeah, I guess two notes on that one quickly on the the B2B front is there's many many brands that are starting to realize exactly what you just said and we've had a lot of B2B approaches actually in the commercial real estate realm and the finance realm and they're realizing hey if we want to be disrupters as well. We have to look different we have to act different we have to feel different we have to talk different and and. So they're definitely catching on to that train. I think it's interesting. So I think a lot of brands that are not or companies I should say that are not brand LED are more product lead and I would say I see a lot of that in places like consumer electronics, but also in a lot of Technology firms like and I think some of them are starting to catch on like Dropbox just you know, fairly recently redid their brand to be a little bit more. Friendly approachable consumer-facing type of thing and more storytelling to it. But yeah, I think a lot of Technology platforms that come out are are really thinking product first feature first. How is this solving a need for the consumer and and they're totally value in that but I think there's an opportunity for every brand or every company to be. Brand and and have a connection with the consumer. I think it validates again your value prop and makes you more necessary to that consumer. But that's something that's interesting to me as well. Like when you're working with these kind of more technical companies or that could be B2B OR tech companies for that matter. It's always like hard when you're thinking about the brand you want something that's broader than the features you want something emotional but yet you don't want to overshoot it and become something float. Like how do you balance those two? It's really hard. That's that's another ongoing challenge that we have and we have this this little comic that we share internally that's like a picture of a guy walking up a staircase and the staircase never ends and it's at the bottom of the staircase. He has a little bag of potato chips that he's trying to brand and he walks up the ladder all the asking why why do we exist and he walks all the way up to like world peace and happiness and it. So good. I have to share with you but it's it's a reality of so many of these businesses because sometimes they forget the grounding that is needed within that industry or you know again how they're solving the need for the consumer and they'll even Facebook of did this to some of their commercials a couple years ago were like solving for happiness of people and. Look how that turned out. So yeah, you need to constantly be grounding yourself in something that is tangible. And really that a consumer can hold you accountable for they you can't be held accountable for someone's happiness. It's impossible all the variables that go into that nor would you ever want a friend to be doing that for you? That's that's a dangerous place. Do you work with for example, how do you define this thing is a dude named it like the brand purpose or the essence and how do you uncover that? Yeah, so we actually have a couple terms. So I mean we're I think of I'm very much a subscriber to Simonson XY how what as a friend and I typically. Use that when a brand or a company is a little bit more unclear on who they are and what they're offering and it's always just a good gut check to be able to identify those things first because again startups you wouldn't believe it sometimes. You're really clear on the what but not the how were the y or vice versa? And so we want to make sure to nail those things down first just because those are also just things you could answer conversationally, but then we're actually creating sort of the brand DNA if you will. Yeah, the framework we use is a brand pyramid that at the very tip top of it is in essence. Because I think what the essence does is it's not just getting to your why but it's trying to get to a bit of a more actionable why that has a flavor to it. If that makes sense. Like it needs to be something that the designer also understands and they can rally around when it starts to create a world around. So I think of it kind of what it is the spirit of the brand if you will. Yeah, and that's I think really interesting as well. If you think about you have this Y and a lot of times I think it's essential to uncover it but it's not always interesting to like share it in the whole messaging. Do you feel like there's moments where you don't need to actually share. Totally totally. So yeah, we were working earlier in the year with a dating app is I'll say and you know, the why is pretty obvious but it's also something that when you talk about it, it feels a little itchy and uncomfortable because it's it's sort of it's It's a known thing but it's also like it's too on the nose when you talk about it directly and so it's good to have that. Why beat you. You're guiding Compass but not necessarily your consumer-facing message all the time. And I think an example of a brand that does is really really well as mooji. I think there maybe it's less a why and more up there like ultimate philosophy or even design philosophy, but I think there's being. Simplicity and mooji is sort of intended to be this sort of empty vessel for all of these other things to be placed into it. I think that sounds pretty heavy but it in execution makes a lot of sense because again the consumer might not be able to wrap their head around the Y. Boy, do they like all those home organization products and all those beautiful colored pens and everything that looks really consistent and nice and clean. So absolutely. All right. There's one big more question. I want to ask you before we start running off and it's about launching because I think that's of course one of your expertise to to actually launch a Brandon and I think it's an interesting challenge in many ways because as as designers or strategists were always like working in this almost chemistry lab environment where things are were trying different things and then you need to work it out in the real world and how you have a process for lounging it. And what does it hold? Yes, definitely. So I think whenever possible and this is highly dependent on time and budget which are oftentimes abundant in startups. But when they are we absolutely recommend Alpha and beta testing to do launches because I think especially when products are newer and we may not fully have product Market fit yet. You want to really establish that. Zoomers want and need this product that they will use it that they will pay for it and get the feedback on how your messaging against it. So I think you know initial tests with friends and family or what I think of an alpha so. You know doing a lightweight MVP type of thing, whether it's you know text messaging platform or some sort of e-commerce site just opening that up to people, you know, and love and care for you and can give you that honest feedback is invaluable. But then putting that out to then a wider group of influencers or people within the community who again can give you friendly feedback, but that it's still critical and you know can. Can be quite directional those are just really really helpful to not only test but also just to gain traction and to make it feel when the brand actually launches publicly. It feels like there's already traction around it. There's already attention people are already talking about it liking it and and it really just success feels inevitable at that point versus going from zero to a hundred is quite difficult and it can be done and it is done. Time but yet it almost puts more pressure on the all the steps leading up to it to be exactly right and at least, you know, very little margin for error. You do Encompass this in the it's maybe a bit of a weird question. But I think like this can lead to a lot more work. When you start asking a group of people and you get feedback and maybe you need to reiterate on the whole identity. I don't know how far this goes, of course, but do Encompass this in the budget like this margin for when things would not be the correct way to go. There's there's ways of doing it but the other hoof it stuff. That's when we call change order territory, which is unfortunate, but you have to go like hey we scoped for this is where like the reality of us being a business and a human capital business comes into play where our motto our business model is hinging on its time and. Is people's effort and their time and so because we have spent that doesn't mean that we got it, right. It means we spent the time and I think that is a very tough pill to swallow for startups who are you know on a tight budget we yeah, we definitely had to do it before and it's like I said a tough pill to swallow, but if it if it's getting to a better result in the end then. It's worth it. Hmm. Definitely yet that I think that's always like the tricky part and on the budget side of things, especially when you you are doing like your due diligence and getting feedback and it's also like a wonderful thing to do. I think like you're already showing your client like we got this feedback. So they know they need to change a couple of things a couple of things. So it's not just your opinion. I guess you do you include a lot of customer research in these projects. A decent amount but I will say it's typically qualitative in nature. We aren't really subscribers to like huge surveys or huge focus groups or like kind of weird our bread and butter is really not like a customer segmentation. I think that the businesses that were really really successful with already have a good understanding of who their Target customer is. And so when we come on board what our job is is to really understand that person in a deeper way and understand, you know, their motivations their aspirations and their needs and current behaviors so we can then sort of. Precision laser focus on how to message to that person but a lot of times it's not you know, what like I think a lot of like cpg products for example are so broad that they have to do customer segmentation to figure out how to message and I think we're lucky in a way that we're focusing on, you know, smaller companies to start that are trying to get to that scale, but they go added a little bit of a different way from the bullseye of who they wanted to Target. Outward as opposed to just starting with the whole landscape were very much subscribers to get your customers to be evangelists and and your best marketers for you and the work will do itself. And do you always like create a special campaign for a brand lounge or is it more about just putting it out there as it will be in the coming year or I'm honestly that that part is what depends on. Every different startup that that's the piece that's different every time whether they've arranged for PR and like out-of-home advertising or TV or it's quite different every time so we try to work within the realm of you know, what they have budget for what they have sort of an appetite for and really what makes sense. For all these channels that the consumer is going to be on like if if you're launching an engagement ring startup and you, you know want to make a big splash, but you're ignoring startup. You don't necessarily need to go on every TV channel that ever existed. You need to be really targeted. A particular age group of men and women and and find them and enter meet them where they are as opposed to doing, you know a broad broadcast if you will, I think that's where we don't really do this piece of things that that's where a Performance Marketing comes in and gets really really targeted on finding the right channels for people and. You know the right message for that time. So that's another partner that we work directly with in that phase is like SEO sem, you know, retargeting all that good stuff. We try to collaborate with them to make sure the brand messages. Right and the channels are right, but then they'll. Dull do the more specific work there. Are you ever planning to launch your own brand? I can imagine like because of all the experiences you've had we are actually we are in the process of it right now, which is really exciting. Yeah. I think we've always had existential questions of are we in agency? What are we are on Brands? What do we do here? And I think just as a group of people we are all builders. And really really like the process of starting companies. And so yeah, we are taking the leap and and yeah, that's the next step for us is creating our own. So we hope to be launching our first one in June of this year or next year. I should say 2019. All right, really looking forward to that will be a great product. I hope okay. Maybe let's close off with like a few final words. If you could give some piece of advice don't it doesn't have to be any Guru ish quote or anything. Just something you want to share with people about wanting to become better designers or strategies for that matter. You have any yeah. I do and I'd said I would say not not quite a profound quote or anything, but it's just have a point of view. I always am hammering this into my team is have a strong point of view have an opinion on everything because the worst brands are those that have no opinion and they think they can be everyone everything to everyone and I think a lot of people are afraid to make bold statements and piss people off and you know, that's it. Terrible but the the Best Brands and strategist and designers are those that. Really hold steadfast core belief and have you know interesting views on the world and really have an angle on where they wanted to go where they would take it and without that it's really hard to create a message that resonates with people because I think that's what people are looking for. This is don't know it but you need to yeah, really really have something that you believe in that you're sort of trying to Shepherd and see through in the world. All right. Those are great words. I think well if people want to reach out to you, can we work we work in the reach out to you? Yeah, so I make a Camilla gin Lane so pretty simple and that's my email and can find us on social. I'm not so into the twitterverse. It's a little bit too much for me to handle sometimes and more on Instagram because I'm visual of course. So yeah Instagram at Camille's egg and then give me like gently. Okay. We'll put up those links. Thank you very much. Thank you, son. So I just want to take this minute to thank everyone that has been listening and supporting the podcast. I really appreciate you guys feedback and I do hope you've enjoyed the second season. And of course the third season is already underway, and I'm really looking forward to getting your feedback on the new season. See you around and happy holidays. Of course

10 lessons in brand strategy from 2018

10 lessons in brand strategy from 2018

Brand story #1: Oreo, the cookie that became something more.

Brand story #1: Oreo, the cookie that became something more.