Overcoming the Daunting Challenge of Building the Foundations of Brand, Marketing, and Communication

You don't have to address everything, all the time, all at once.

Throughout my career, I've realised that the most daunting challenge for businesses of any size is laying out the foundations of brand, marketing, and communication.

Building a brand encompasses several levels of depth in areas like branding, marketing, communication, and more broadly, stakeholder engagement, corporate culture, and HR. 


These areas are crucial for building a strong brand; they serve slightly different purposes but don't need to be addressed simultaneously.

By Camilla Barlocco and AI

Foundations Priorities for Start-ups and SMEs' Growth: Why Branding Matters


Often, organisations at inception confuse building a brand and branding strategy with marketing for sales, driven by their immediate revenue generation needs. They may do well commercially, but eventually, their brand identity will catch up with them, manifesting through issues like employee retention and customer loyalty. Creating a solid brand is crucial for the success of SMEs and start-ups, significantly influencing their ability to retain customers, uniquely position themselves in the market, and attract investors. The first step in creating a solid brand is to build its foundations, including core statements, brand guidelines, personality, visual and core design. Branding affects how a business is perceived in the market. A well-crafted brand can enhance the business's reputation, making it more attractive to investors by signalling the company's potential for growth and profitability. This positive perception can lead to a higher valuation, as investors are more likely to invest in businesses that exhibit strong brand identities and clear value propositions. Investors look for start-ups that can attract and retain customers, and a strong brand is often seen as evidence of this ability.


Brands Are Not Fixed Entities; They Will Grow with You


Sometimes, organisations at the beginning of their journey feel overwhelmed by the extensive 'to-do list' required to establish a 'strong and everlasting' brand. This feeling of being lost is often instilled by brand strategy consultancies, communication and marketing agencies, who emphasise the importance of every task without considering the organisation's current level of maturity or the prioritisation of efforts. It is crucial for organisations to remember that a brand is not a static entity but rather a dynamic force that evolves alongside the organisation itself.


Imagine Your Brand Child at Age 7


Imagine your child at the age of 7: how they talk, behave, and dress. All of this will change as they grow. But as a parent, your focus is on education, instilling in them solid values and good behaviours that will shape their character forever. This is your brand foundation. Their clothes, style, way of talking, and how they engage with others will evolve and change. As a parent, there is no point in spending so much money on a pair of shoes they will outgrow in a few months. These are all the other layers of brand identity. They contribute to your child's identity but are underpinned by something deeper: their values and personal preferences. That's what brand foundations are and what you need to focus on at the early stage of your business journey. Everything else will come with your business's growth and consolidation, exactly as a teenager navigates their own way through social endeavours.

At the time of business transformation, keep it real and focused. We should never leave brand and culture behind during M&A


Loss of priority sight happens dangerously during critical business transformations. Organisations tend to rush to achieve a settled-in status in what is considered the desired outcome. In the process, they neglect stakeholder engagement and forget that people, brands, and corporate cultures are not light switches that can be flipped at will; they need transition time and overarching guidance. This guidance must own the vision of the transformation by breaking it down into its smallest components and tackling them at the right time through a clear engagement plan.

Mergers and Acquisitions are the perfect examples of this context

The integration of corporate culture and branding is pivotal to the success of M&A. The evidence strongly suggests that neglecting these aspects can severely impact the outcome of an M&A deal.

An Accenture survey highlights that integrating corporate cultures and brand identities can significantly affect the combined organisation's future success. Companies that overlook these elements and do not plan a clear road map priorities-centred can get lost in the integration process and risk a steep price, including a significant net income drop.


Meticulously planning for culture and brand integration and addressing these factors early and throughout the M&A with clear communication practices can pave the way for smoother transitions, enhanced employee engagement, and, ultimately, the long-term success of the merged entity.


Challenges Faced by In-House Teams in Managing Culture and Brand Integration


When it comes to managing the integration of culture and brand, in-house teams often encounter various challenges. Guiding a cross-functional team through the integration of merging entities can be particularly challenging. Each team involved in the integration process tends to have its own agenda and priorities, making it difficult to align and create a cohesive culture and brand identity. Given these challenges, it is advisable for in-house teams to consider seeking external strategic management support. By bringing in an impartial perspective, external experts can strategically ensure the optimal combination of both parties involved in the integration, setting the foundation for future success.


Ubi Mission: A Consultancy for Your Core


I founded a brand, marketing, and communication consultancy, Ubi, with the mission of providing clarity to organisations at the start of their journey or during transformative times. I help them stay focused on their priorities and establish the foundations of their brand identity and stakeholder engagement needs in a way that allows for further evolution. I focus on companies' values and messages, providing guidance on projecting these to stakeholders in the clearest way possible. This enables the businesses' value proposition to resonate with employees, shareholders, investors, and customers. Creativity is an ever-expanding universe; it's always easier to add than to remove.

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