Back in 2010 I packed a bag and went travelling round the world. I ended up in Australia and fell in love, as so many do! I wanted to stay and so soon enough I found myself farming to get my visa (my back has never quite forgiven me!).
My naivety about where food came from, the scale and magnitude of the operations and the effort required by so many people astounded me.
On returning to the UK a few years later, I vowed to grow my own – so I got an allotment (or community garden).
Did I know what I was doing? No.
Was there advice and support on hand? Yes.
Was I determined to succeed? Yes.
I had a vision and I embarked to make it a reality.
So, I researched. I carefully planned where and how I could start my veggie patch, I learned all about what to do, how the layout of plants should be for good yields and the best time to start it all.
This got me thinking, one day with my knees in the mud: all the items needed to build and grow an allotment are just what you need to build and maintain a brand – metaphorically speaking!
Here’s what I mean:
Know your onions
DISCOVER phase is so important – do your research! Before going full steam ahead with a garden or a brand, you have to take a step back and develop a plan for where you want it to go. Researching your competitors, understand the opportunities in your market and how you can differentiate is vital; just as understanding the best plants to grow in your soil, climate etc.
Performing a PESTLE (Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental) analysis, or similar, in the beginning can help focus and move your strategy in the right direction.
Strategically plan your brand
When planning the allotment, you need to allow proper spacing between plants and walkways as well as needing a fence or netting to prevent creatures from eating everything (good luck!). Some plants don’t like to be together, some do, some flowers support the growth of vegetables, some are poisonous, some veg is small, some big…
Allowing adequate space, juxtaposition, protection and timings are key for successful growth.
When developing your brand, you need the same approach – set your secure parameters, plan your brand growth strategically for optimal results, have the right places/channels and times to reach your audience, the right product for their needs. Your Core Idea, mission statement and vision from your strategy will help.
Cultivate your brand identity
You’ve planned it out, you’ve done your research, now time to prepare your ground – the thing that will sustain your growth.
Building a brand identity can be compared to preparing your garden’s soil. Ill preparation can lead to poor yields, invasion of insects and creatures – similarly, poor brand building and design can erode the integrity of your vision before your even go to market.
While developing your brand identity system, make sure it accurately reflects your research and strategy, aligns to your purpose and vision – you’ll know when it doesn’t. This will assure your visual brand gets off to a good start. It’s up to you then to nurture it and make it grow.
Planting the seeds of your collateral and communications
Getting the planting of your seeds right is so important - the correct depth, spacing, time and quantity.
This is a great way to describe the collateral and communications from your business: the quality and consistency of the brochures, advertisements, website and any other marketing materials; the content itself – the tonality and alignment of the visual assets.
We have already covered the importance of brand consistency during this - in developing trust with customers through education and to direct them to your product or service. See Why is brand consistency so important: 5 reasons brand guidelines are useful for more about this.
Nurturing your brand
Growing your plot takes constant care and attention – watering, pruning, supporting, weeding, treating and feeding. When managing a brand, you will need to make necessary adjustments in accordance with what’s going on in the market, trends.
This preening and adjustments will keep your brand relevant and more fruitful.
Evaluating your brand for better growth
When assessing your yields and enjoying the fruits of your labour (literally), it’s important to evaluate what’s succeeded, failed, what you’d do differently and what not to do again. Regular assessment will help flag changes that are necessary for more bountiful growth.
Just like gardening, a lot can be learned about your brand from your past performance.
Your brand in bloom
As you prepare yourself, your soil, your seeds, for the branding process, plan carefully and thoughtfully, understand the terrain you’re operating in, establish what is best for you and your purpose, give it the best chance with great design and proper execution, nurture it, tend to it and watch it grow.