I’ve lots of experience helping others to build, maintain, sometimes to salvage, their brands. Now I’ve had do it for myself – or as one of my old colleagues from the States would say (to my great amusement), I’ve had to “eat my own dog food”!
People often think that building a brand is about logos, websites, fonts, colours etc. These things help people develop a first impression of an organisation or brand but they are just the physical manifestation of two things that are much more important; the behaviour of the brand (the people who represent it), which are shaped by their values and the values of the organisation. We are in danger here of drowning in lots of marketing/communications jargon here so let’s break it down by looking at my recent journey establishing AMJ Comms.Before deciding on the logo for my new business and the look and feel of the website, I thought about what we would stand for and how it should feel to interact with AMJ Comms. As we will all know from our personal lives and relationships we judge people not by how they look – ok, sometimes we do when making a first impression – but over time we judge people by what they do, what they say, how they act, how they make us feel when we see them. If people are rude to us, we don’t put them on top of our Christmas card list. If a business or company give us awful customer service, we don’t keep giving them our business and money. This is not rocket science. Like most things in communications, building a brand is about having a clear, simple and, most importantly, authentic story to tell.
AMJ Comms stands for two things; high quality work drawing on my consulting and in-house communications experience and my passion for what is important in life. My business is about me getting balance between fantastic working and fantastic living just right. I named my business after my daughter – ‘AMJ’ are her initials. It is a reminder of the most important things in life. Working for myself means that I can give my clients and my work 100% whilst getting my work-life balance right – home always coming before work. I have found so far that my clients understand this – they admire it – respond well to it. Clients who don’t, won’t be clients of mine.
The rest of my AMJ Comms story is about my experience of working on both sides of the fence – leading in-house communications teams and providing communication consulting services to clients – it means I know from experience how to help organisations improve their communications. I know what good looks like. I know how to help organisations drive change using communication and deliver quick and lasting success. I have bought consulting and interim support and I have sold and delivered it. I know when consultants and interims are a waste of money. I know how to add value.
My overall brand story is underpinned by my values of putting family first – the most important thing in life; being open and clear with my advice, views and approach; talking and writing using simple language that everyone can understand – helping clients cut through complexity to get the most out of their communications; and doing the best work possible for each client – treating them as unique and special.
The ultimate test of a brand is not how cool your website looks or whether your logo cuts a dash but whether your stakeholders – your customers/the people you serve – recognise your story as their experience. It’s authentic. It’s real. It’s consistent. It’s what happened to them. They enjoyed working with you. You were true to your word. The proof of the pudding of everything in life is in the eating. So far, my clients like what they are getting but the true test is maintaining this over time.