SEP 2020 IAN LYALL
“O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!”
To a Louse -1786
Having spent the largest part of the lockdown period on the Clyde coast, I felt it appropriate to start this article with a quote from the Bard of Ayrshire, Scotland’s favourite poet, Robert Burns. And this particular quote, albeit translated from the auld Scots, neatly describes the aim of some of the marketing work Idea Group has been doing of late.
In the past couple of years, we’ve been taking a good look at how we perceive ourselves as a company – and how our target market might perceive us too.
I’d hesitate to call it a ‘rebrand’, because for me, that word implies a kind of re-think, a change of mindset or a change of direction. And that’s far from what we’ve been about. It’s been the opposite in fact. It’s a process of self-discovery, to do with shedding light, or letting us see ourselves more clearly.
Over the years, companies do evolve a corporate culture, without being too conscious of it, so you do have to do a bit of digging. The quest to identify our evolved values forced us to examine and then articulate the attitudes and approaches which had, over the years, formed a shared outlook.
Make no mistake, it’s hard work. And when you’re in the middle of these kinds of processes, you do find yourself occasionally yearning to get back to the relative comfort of the day-to-day stuff. But ultimately, when we’d done the hard yards, there was this appreciable ‘aha’ moment which comes with seeing and recognising those values and appreciating how they actually underpin everything we are about as a company.
If you see Idea Group’s ‘5 key belief pillars’ written down on paper - Expertise, Innovation, Agility, Openness, Respect – they might appear too general to mean a great deal. But when these are broken down into discrete value statements and you see what they mean in practice, for our customers, you become aware of their power. To take an example. Under ‘Agility’, one of the statements reads:
Our brand book develops this statement by spelling out the ways that this enables us to create value for our customers:
When you see core values in terms of customer benefits you begin to understand their power. These values now have direct and logical implications for every aspect and every detail of the Idea Group brand, including how we communicate - internally and externally - our tone of voice, straplines, imagery, fonts, colour palettes and logos.
The Burns quote I started with is all about honesty – and not kidding ourselves about who we are and what we are actually like. And that, to me is the key to good marketing. We may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but we know who we are. Which also means we understand, in great detail, the value we can bring to companies in our target market.