5 Mins with Marketing Guru Will Baxter on Brand Futures..

23 07 2013

Rebranding your company’s goals, message, and culture is extremely hard.  Many have tried and most fail.  A successful campaign requires more than a revamped logo. It demands clarity of vision that inspires customers, investors, and others to see your company in a new light.  

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At the last Rail Champions Networking Session we were delighted that Will Baxter, Managing Director of WillB Brand Consultants and serial entrepreneur took time out  of his busy schedule to share with us some of his ‘top tips’ in developing a successful strategy.  Here we revisit some of his words of wisdom and find out a little more about Will himself..

Q1. The biggest myth in branding is…?

That it’s only for big businesses. Creating a distinctive brand and then applying it to   all your customers touch points uses the same principles regardless of how many customers you have. Kevin Roberts, the Global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi says this of branding, “Find out what you are good at and celebrate it”.

Q2. What are the ‘four keys’ to successful branding?

Part 1: DISCOVER your brand. Interview your staff, customers and stakeholders to research what they expect from the brand. Ask them: “If your brand was a car, what marque would it be?”

Part 2: DESIGN your brand. Create an instantly recognisable and thought-provoking design that will inspire your customers. Look like the brand you want to be tomorrow, today.

Part 3: DELIVER your brand. Roll out your new brand identity maintaining continuity across all your marketing collateral – brochures, exhibition stands, Apps and websites. Don’t forget the business cards!

Part 4: DRIVE your brand. Post-launch you’ll be focusing on the continued implementation of your brand – social media, newsletters and website updates. Keep it centred around tangible mileposts, such as exhibitions and product launches.

Q3. The secret to brand value and loyalty…?

Be in the right place at the right time. All you have to do is know the answers when people need them and if you do this consistently they’ll never need to look anywhere else. I’ve experienced this myself, with the online marketing strategy that I’ve implemented over the last five years – making sure you’re known for what you do and you’re the easiest person to contact to do that.

Q4. What common mistakes are made in branding?

The biggest mistake is lack of brand continuity, not having the same logo used in the same way on all marketing collateral. The second biggest mistake is on changing your marketing campaign and tagline too often – which shows a weakness – as you’re not confident enough in your own brand. The solution to all this is to have a well thought out marketing strategy which overlooks the short term gains and focuses on the long term positioning of the brand.

Q5. What have you learned about yourself whilst running your own business?

Name your business after yourself rather than your services. I first started under the rather confusing eHANDe name (means electronic handy product) because I’d patented a novel type of mousemat that I was selling as a promotional item. This led me on to customers such including Tetley and Tarmac… who wanted me to then assist with other aspects of their marketing materials and so the business grew. As this continued, especially in the rail sector it became apparent that the company name was misleading and as the company was growing I wasn’t too sure where it would end up, so I opted for Will Baxter, which then shortened to WillB. Also, if you look at Nokia, for instance, they started up manufacturing paper some 150 years ago, then rubber products and then electronics. So it’s good to have an open name, and the founders names is often a good start.

Q6. Who is your biggest inspiration in business and why?

Ron Hickman OBE (1932 – 2011). Inventor of the Workmate that he licenced to Black & Decker, which went on to sell over 80 million units. It’s reported he made £1 on each one sold. Ron was also the designer of the original Lotus Elan, which is widely regarded as the best handling car of all time and Mazda openly admit to being the inspiration for the best selling roadster of all time, the 1 million selling Mazda MX-5. I could write a book about the three months I spent working for Ron in 1999 on a sportscar development project that he was doing in his retirement, but the essence of Ron isn’t talent like you might imagine, it’s persistence. An example of this is that we’d often stay up until 3am drinking Martini’s is his studio bar whilst agonising over the smallest detail on the design of a windscreen wiper mechanism. You see it’s understanding how things work and questioning why they couldn’t be done another way which really drove Ron. It was Ron’s single minded obsession with taking responsibility for every element of what he designed that I admired so much.

Q7. What exciting projects are you working on right now?

Well, almost everything I do is confidential, but what I can tell you is that I’ve an ongoing relationship with TRE, YRP and Interfleet Technology continuously developing their marketing collateral. Plus there are a few other rail company re-brand projects in the pipeline.

Q8. What’s it like in Venice at Christmas time…?

I presume you ask because instead of sending clients Christmas cards last year, I did a Christmas video from a Gondola in Venice! It was filmed in November and so it was literally freezing all day everyday, so my fianceé and I took shelter watching the Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at the ‘Gran Teatro La Fenice.’ So for the end of this interview, as they say in Venice, ‘Ciao Bella!’

Huge thanks to Will for taking the time to speak with us and answer our questions.  However, one final hot tip was deliberately left out.  If you think you know the answer…leave your comments and feedback below.  I’m sure you have a good idea, we’d like you to share it..

Contact Will via his website here.




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