branding tips for social enterprises from our talk at Good Stories 2017

I was invited to speak at the Good Stories 2017 conference yesterday, which was produced by Matter & Co, Pioneers Post and SE100, and held at 250 Bishopsgate in London. During the conference, I met with social entrepreneurs from across the UK, who shared some great insights as to how stories can transform the way you communicate your brand. They also gave some wonderful advice on how to use social media and on how best to get your local MPs onboard.

 Miho at the Building Brilliant Brands panel – photo by Coventry University Social Enterprises

Miho at the Building Brilliant Brands panel – photo by Coventry University Social Enterprises

Shortly after the first break, I took part in the Building Brilliant Brands panel with Claire Pearson from Belu Water. It was really interesting to hear about Belu's journey from its origin through to its recent successful expansion. Claire also spoke about the importance of Belu's brand in the company's success in the high-end hotel and catering sector.

Next up, it was my turn. I gave some branding tips based on my experience. I have shared the slides below for those of you who were not able to attend the conference.

 Why is branding useful for social enterprises?

Why is branding useful for social enterprises?

But… Good is not good enough.
We have been fortunate to meet some really impressive social entrepreneurs doing wonderful work but, as we tell them in our workshops and clinics, having a great social message or story is not enough to succeed as a brand and business. You need to ensure that the quality, service, experience, design and other needs-based aspects are as well-considered, as ultimately the business has to serve the needs of its customers. There must be a balance between the social message and the experience of the product or service itself.

Good Stories 2017_Good is not good enough

Inspire to do good, not by making people feel guilty or fearful
It is more powerful to inspire people with positive stories and the potential for change than to make them feel guilty about social issues or the fearof inaction. There is a possibility that you may make people feel guilty enough to act once, if that is your brand's message, but your customers will not keep engaging and will not share their experience.

Good Stories 2017_inspire to be good

Stories are key
Telling stories about the brand makes it more memorable and shareable. Stories are the easiest way for people to remember information. It brings the people out from behind the brand and it bridges the gap between customers and the brand. 

Good Stories 2017_Stories are key

Head + Heart
Branding is not an exact science. You may have a superior product but your branding might only communicate the functional attributes of that product. The brand that bridges the heart and mind to the product ultimately succeeds. Businesses need to think about the look and feel of their brand, the people behind the brand, their customer service and the other sensual aspects of the brand. As Jeff Bezos, 'Your brand is what consumers say about your product when you are not in the room.'

Good Stories 2017_Head + heart

Design & Beauty Matter
In this day and age, visual culture is very important. You are bombarded by over 100,000 words a day on the news and through emails, social media and ads. People look to visual culture and to sites such as Instagram for some light relief. This means that brands need to really think about how they present themselves visually. Also, the visual identity is the face of the brand and if it not memorable or appealing this will reflect poorly on the brand.

Good Stories 2017_Design and beauty matter

We had a great day at the Good Stories 2017 conference and it was nice to meet so many inspirational people. A special thanks to Matter&Co.

Look who's talking – Experimental typography, bands, brands and jelly beans

The medium of a talk seems to have been challenged in recent years. What used to be an event in which a silent audience nodded along (or sometimes nodded off) to a speaker showcasing a lifetime of design perfection is now changing, crossing that invisible line between audience and speaker. Last week, we popped along to two of our favourite monthly talk series which often go head-to-head on the last Wednesday and Thursday many months of the year.

Letterform Live gets experimental

Letterform Live is a series of talks put together by Grafik, in partnership with Monotype and ISTD and hosted by Protein Studios. This sort of high level collaboration leads to a rather colourful and engaging environment before and after the talks. The tickets are £12 with some free drinks provided. The attendees range from working designers, academics and those outside of the design industry leading to some lively discussions and possible future collaborations. The format involves 5 speakers talking for 10 minutes, each loosely based around a favoured letterform, and then a Q&A taking place at the end. With this flexibility in format, the speakers are able to present their own take on the subject, leading to interesting results. Some recent themes have included: Bowie, fashion, brutal and cycling.

 (left) Tom Hingston and Jonathan Barnbrook (right) speak about working with Bowie at April's Letterform Live

(left) Tom Hingston and Jonathan Barnbrook (right) speak about working with Bowie at April's Letterform Live

Last week's event, which was themed 'Experimental', included speakers Malou Verlomme of Monotype; Paul McNeil, a senior lecturer at LCC;  Elisabeth and David of The Counterpress; Peter Cronkrak of Luxury of Protest and Sarah Hyndman of TypeTasting. The talks included a concise history of experimentation in typography by Verlomme and The Counterpress, and interesting examples of looking at experimental type and forms of communication together by McNeil. Cronkrak then transported us into the future with a look at how our brain visualises data and what this actually looks like. Mind blown. The evening ended nicely with some great typographic experiments and findings by Sarah Hyndman. Hyndman pointed out that even the sound of names as well as the shapes of letterforms could affect they way people perceive things such as taste and the perceived value of brands. Topping it off with a jellybean experiment was a great way to get us involved.

 (Left) Typographic experiments by Sarah Hyndman (middle) Paul McNeil's slides (right) the Counterpress

(Left) Typographic experiments by Sarah Hyndman (middle) Paul McNeil's slides (right) the Counterpress

The Typographic Circle says yes

 (Left) Stamp visuals by Royal Mail. (Right) Snask

(Left) Stamp visuals by Royal Mail. (Right) Snask

Typocircle talks are run by The Typographic Circle membership organisation. The tickets are £16 for non-members and £10 for members. If you are fast enough, you can grab yourself a free drink as well. In the earlier years, the speakers were mainly British graphic design, branding and illustration industry leaders. In recent years, they have also invited exceptional theatre designers, companies such as Royal Mail, and last week the Rock n Roll Swedish design agency Snask.

 Malmo Festival by Snask. Image by Snask.

Malmo Festival by Snask. Image by Snask.

Last week's 'Say Yes' talk was like no other. Set in the nightclub Cargo, where other talks involve a quiet click, click, click through slides,  Snask played loud, musical interludes between each segment. Their rocky songs were peppered with expletives and contained some unique advice to designers such as 'Don't mix rock n roll with professional.' Our favourite piece of work was the Malmo Festival typographic identity, but their stories of throwing after-parties for student interviews dressed in period costume made us chuckle too. The evening ended with a full gig and some networking amongst creatives.

Across town: Hidden Women of Design get visible

HWOD pic by Lorna Allan

Last Wednesday saw the second in a series of three talks organised by Lorna Allan of Hidden Women of Design. It is free to attend and talks are held at the very cool Peckham Pelican venue. The structure of the talks consist of three speakers with 20 slides in 20 minutes like a Pecha Kucha followed by a Q&A. So far, Speakers have included: Sian Cook of WD+RU, Spike Spondike of Dalton Maag, Jocelyn Bailey of Uscreates and the final talk next week will include Emily Wood of REG Design and CSM and Dr Cathy Gale. These talks showcase some of the many, great women designers living and working in London. 

 From last week's talks.

From last week's talks.

Upcoming talks


Hidden Women of Design's (HWOD) final talk of this series is next week, Wednesday 13 July from 7pm at Peckham Pelican. For more information follow @HWODesign on Twitter

Glug Presents: Do you need a Penis to be a Creative Director? Thursday, 14 July from 18:30 at The Trampery, £14.50. For more information go to Glug Events. Featuring Nadiya Powell of Sunshine, Jo Hodges of LCC and Kath Tudball, Design Director of The Partners amongst others.

In the autumn 

The Typocircle Talks returns on 20 October at Protein Gallery. Check the website for further details.

Letterform Live returns for a new series at the end of September. Check the website for further details.