Brand Appreciation Day

How Your Brand Can Become Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset

My friend Morgan recently launched a company that uses predictive analytics to measure and monitor the value of post-war and contemporary artists. He said this data would be beneficial to fiduciaries and high-net-worth collectors whose investment decisions could be costly if based solely on connoisseurship. When Morgan first told me about his idea, my “good for you” carried all the manufactured encouragement that a parent issues when their young child voices their intention to become our country’s future president. I mean, Morgan didn’t really need to work, coming from a family so well-heeled they wouldn’t feel out of place sitting for an oil painting. Then, he said something that immediately extinguished my doubts and reminded me that being the class clown when we were in high school wasn’t paying the dividends I had anticipated. His pitch began and ended with: “Why do other asset classes such as stocks, bonds, and real estate undergo more scrutiny than art when the auction market provides a wealth of measurables?”

Art as an asset. It made perfect sense. So, why couldn’t I apply that same thinking to my own career in brand building? Probably because so many of us make the mistake of viewing a brand as an identity. But if a brand has real value, not only is it an asset, but it’s one that can appreciate over time with the proper care and feeding. This is the mindset I adopted as our agency, FARM, began authoring the next chapter of our own brand evolution.

Listening to our audience

Let’s get this out of the way: You don’t control your brand—your audience does. If companies held all the power, we’d still be drinking Crystal Pepsi in our Members Only jackets. So, it didn’t matter what we thought our brand represented if it was out of alignment with what our clients felt. That’s why we let the voice of the customer guide us toward a better way to articulate our brand’s value.

When we first developed the FARM brand, the promise of “growth” was at its core. And as an agency that boasted the results we delivered, it felt right at the time. But as we listened to our clients, we learned what they found most meaningful were the insights and perspective we brought to the relationship. Of course, results were still important; but they became secondary to our thinking and ability to find new and unexpected ways for businesses to tell their stories. Looking at it that way—through the eyes of our audience—we discovered the true value of the FARM brand was “fresh perspective.”

Solving our identity crisis

A brand should stand for who you are as much as for what you do. It should feel like you. Our new brand positioning secured, we immediately put “fresh perspective” to the test on our own identity. First, we agreed there was nothing worth salvaging from our representation of “growth,” which, in retrospect, was better suited for curing insomnia than igniting one’s marketing. Gone were the serene images of sun-drenched fields paired with the earnest tone of a grief counselor. In its place, we not only wanted a voice and visuals that conveyed more personality, but an identity we could customize based on the audience and environment. We wanted branding that conveyed “fresh” in both spirit and practice.

After exhaustive ideation, we chose to communicate the FARM brand through photography accented with hand-drawn illustrations that would transform the image into something playful and unexpected, while still contextually relevant. Together with conversational and thoughtful copy, this approach allowed for limitless creativity without skidding off into a composition that appeared busy, confusing, or lacking a clear purpose. And most importantly, it felt like us.

Managing our investment

If left untended, a brand will depreciate, becoming stale and discolored with age. That’s why investing in a brand’s development also requires an investment in its active and ongoing stewardship. Having created a brand that demands new thinking with each iteration holds us to that promise.

As of this writing, we’ve been living “fresh perspective” for about a year. We’ve got the basics down, but we’re always tinkering with new ways we can bring the FARM brand to life. We’re building out new creative assets for our presentations; we’re exploring how we can deliver a better visitor experience on our website; we’re determining how our diversity and inclusion effort can find its voice among the other stories we tell. It feels like a perpetual exercise of dressing for the job we want instead of the one we have. Sure, it’s more work than simply choosing a font and a color palette and calling it a day. But the returns are proving immeasurable.

If your brand isn’t performing to your customers’ expectations, we can help. Drop us a line and let’s talk.

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