Interview with Managing Partner Robert Fowler from Catalyst Creativ

Interview with Managing Partner Robert Fowler from Catalyst Creativ

What Does Branding Mean To You?

R: Since the days of Mad Men, “branding” has been an advertising buzzword and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon! Depending on who’s talking about branding, it can either mean a whole lot or not much at all.

The term branding is familiar to everyone, but few know what it actually means. Branding can often be described by things like a logo, a website, social media presence or a particular color scheme… but those are actually the elements that help you communicate the brand. For me, branding is the feeling, emotions, the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions a company name. Think about Nike. What is the first thing that comes to mind? How about Gucci? These are both established brands that make clothing and shoes, but their identities and therefore their branding, are very different. The elements that create a brand are much easier to establish than true branding. The amount of time, money and effort Nike put into creating the Nike brand so that you immediately think of high performance, their slogan “Just Do It”, and the brand’s sponsored athletes whenever you see their trademark Swoosh are some of the best examples of branding we can study. 

How Do You Build a Strong Brand?

R: Building a brand begins with developing an ethos. You need a compelling narrative about what your brand stands for, and to carefully consider how your brand can best connect with your audience in an inspiring, resonant way. At CatalystCreativ, we developed a step by step methodology to building strong brands, called The Seventh Level Engagement Framework. Tapping into our understanding of what it means to meaningfully engage with customers, we then determine the best next steps—in the early stages of brand-building, that entails developing what will serve as an entry point for new audiences to access your brand. Working in order, that typically means understanding your competition, identifying your target audience, the creation of your name, then your logo, fonts, and colors, and then your core brand messaging (i.e. tagline, values, and mission statement). This can vary on a case-by-case basis, but as a rule of thumb, you’ll want core messaging, as well as a visual and online presence that you’re proud of and that represents your brand’s ethos to be among the first steps you take as a brand. These key elements will not only help you present your brand to the world but will help you to attract those customers who personally align with your brand message and values. 

Where Do You Get Inspiration from To Make Your Brand Stand out?

R: I believe too often people focus on what they like, instead of including what they do not like. When we work with clients to help them with their branding and marketing plans, it’s just as valuable to get a sense of the branding elements like logos, colors, and other brands they don’t like or want to stay away from, as it is to understand brands and logos they hope to emulate. Overlaying this insight with a deep understanding of who they are as a company and the impact they are looking to have on the world starts to illuminate a path for how to stand apart from the rest. 

What is Your Main Focus When It Comes To Perfecting Brand’s Digital Presence?

R: Today everyone can see your brand from many different angles—from social to your website... even the way you speak on your own personal Twitter account! Of course, consistency in visual branding (i.e. colors and graphics) is important, but if your brand messaging is not consistent across all channels, your customers or potential customers can become confused. 

I often use the analogy of a plane ride with our team when describing the goal of consistent communication. A passenger sits next to me on an outbound flight and then sits next to another CatalystCreativ team member on their return home. Based on what they hear from me about CatalystCreativ, could this passenger ask my colleague “What do you do?” and immediately know they were sitting next to someone from CatalystCreativ? Ideally, they could, even without my colleague mentioning the company by name, based solely on the way we both speak about our company and what we do. The same concept goes for how your brand is presented on your website, in your advertisements, and on your social channels. They should all be conveying the same brand message. 

Do you believe there has to be a good balance between a brand’s digital presence and its offline interactions with customers? Why/why not?

R: No matter how much we are all addicted to our phones, social media and streaming video services, we all still crave the way it feels to be in a group or at a gathering for the same purpose. The popularity of music festivals in the last 10 years has confirmed this. More and more of daily life seems to be taking place behind a screen: online classes, telecommuting for work, social communities existing on social media. But people flock to weekend-long, fully immersive experiences like Life is Beautiful and Coachella because they want to feel connected to others and they want to share moments with like-minded individuals. That said, the growth of festival culture is at least partially attributable to these festivals’ penchant for online promotion. A festival like Coachella builds considerable buzz each year around its lineup announcement and ensures attendees post about their experience by creating shareable moments throughout the event. 

It’s essential to balance your digital brand and your physical brand, and for the two to effortlessly blend into one another. For direct to consumer brands, this is particularly important. From the moment a customer logs on to make a purchase ‘til they receive the package in the mail they are interacting with your brand and making decisions about future orders.

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