A copywriter joked recently: “Most branding is bullshit. Everyone just wants to sound somewhere in between Apple and Innocent Smoothie.”
A lot of truth is said in jest.
For too many businesses, brand guidelines are a shallow activity, paying casual lip service to the importance of collaboration and the power of leadership.
If you really want to discover who you are, what you stand for, why you’re different and what you’re truly trying to achieve, you’ve got to go deep. Real deep. And that’s exactly what we did with Legacy Marketplace.
Meet Legacy Events
Legacy Events is an events management agency and consultancy headed by CEO Abena Poku-Awuah and Carole Quinne, both former scientists with prestigious backgrounds in their domains.
They provide event management services while considering your environmental impact, carbon footprint and positive social change potential.
The latest addition to the Legacy family is the marketplace, a one-stop shop for anyone wishing to run a sustainable event. By connecting organisers to sustainably verified venues, products and services, the marketplace finds sustainable solutions for your event without sacrificing quality or ease.
But, before the marketplace could begin revolutionising the events industry, Legacy needed to decide how they were going to show up in the world.
“A reputable brand is an extremely impactful competitive edge. It's important for us to have beautifully crafted copy that summarises the marketplace's differentiated value proposition,” read the email from Lauren Nicholson, Legacy’s Marketing Director.
Lauren was brought on board to deliver the positioning and marketing strategy, ensuring it was strong and persuasive. Developing a brand voice for the marketplace and giving it a distinct identity so it can communicate effectively to the target market was one of her top priorities.
Lauren’s smart. She knows branding is about meaning, personality and creating a clearly defined presence. It’s a shorthand that rapidly clues people into who you are, what you stand for and how you communicate with the world.
“It should be built on principles and truths Legacy is confident they can deliver continuously.”
Now, that’s our kind of client.
On the surface, the scope of the work was simple. Legacy wanted a brand manifesto document that sets out:
- Who they are
- Why they’re here
- Who they’re here for
- Why they’re different
- Their mission, vision and values
- Tone of voice principles
It’s the kind of brief a good copywriter has received a dozen times. However, Legacy had some unique challenges to overcome:
They had wildly different audiences to appeal to
Legacy has four core audiences that differ wildly in their values, ethics, budgets and beliefs. They ranged from high-flying corporates with huge budgets to environmental activists seeking the truth about sustainability. How do you find a personality and tone of voice that appeals to each audience without alienating another?
They fit in neither camp, yet appeal to both
The beauty of Legacy is they can’t be pigeon-holed. They aren’t your traditional event organisers, nor are they your conventional environmentalists. Although this can easily be seen as a strength, the challenge was to communicate their difference without being confusing.
Distinguishing Legacy Marketplace from Legacy Events
Abena and Carole wanted Legacy Marketplace to stand as a business in its own right, completely separate from their events management company. However, they also wanted the marketplace to be recognisably part of the Legacy brand. Our challenge here was to understand the subtle differences between the events company and the marketplace.
What we did
To help the Legacy team gain a deep understanding of who they are and how they can best serve their customers, we jumped on a virtual workshop. Aside from being heaps of fun, it proved extremely valuable for everyone.
With Miro and Zoom as our tools for online collaboration, we spent a day engrossed in discussions and exercises that would help the marketplace shape its identity.
Helen Dibble, Incredibble’s founder, led the workshop, while Mike, the lead copywriter, participated and listened intently, noting down anything that could be useful. Abena, Carole and Lauren all took part in the deep dive.
Before running a workshop with a new company we’d normally conduct extensive research. However, Lauren had already conducted thorough customer and market research, developing the personas we used to ensure we were always clear on who we were talking to. We had more than enough to get stuck in.
There are tons of tried and true exercises to discover your brand. We chose the ones we thought would lead Legacy to the outcomes they wanted.
Here are the main areas we covered.
We asked Abena and Carole to plot their stories on a timeline from birth until the present day. They detailed major career events and moments in life that influenced their interest in sustainability..
This helped us understand who they are and what’s brought them to this point. Patterns, shared experiences and running themes emerged too, which neither Carole nor Abena had previously noticed.
A clear understanding of your origin will drive your mission, vision, values and purpose. And, for Lauren, it will help with any future PR.
Prototype Personas - Who are they? What do they want?
So Legacy could develop a greater understanding of their users, we asked them to create personas for each of their four core audiences.
This was a fast-paced, brainstorming activity with everyone spewing ideas onto the screen at once.
By the time they were done, the team had a much clearer idea of their users and the world they live in.
User Stories - What do they need to do?
The best way to meet your customer’s needs is to help them achieve their goals. For Legacy, this was especially important because sustainability isn’t a top priority for many of their customers.
When you understand what your customer’s number one need is, you can see where you fit into the picture and how you can communicate your value.
For each of the four core audiences, we asked the Legacy team to complete the following sentence:
As a [person in a particular role]
I want to [perform an action or find something out]
So I can [achieve my goal of…]
Empathy mapping - The mental states, beliefs and attitudes driving these goals
While your users are trying to achieve their goals, what is their experience? What do they think, feel and believe? What do they say to themselves? What do others say to them?
Asking these questions helped Legacy clarify how to speak to their audience by meeting them where they are.
Brand reflections - who
After the deep work of empathy mapping, the brand reflections were a lighter part of the day. But no less valuable.
Discussing what they liked or disliked about other brands helped bring Legacy’s vision of who they are into sharper focus.
We also asked how they saw the marketplace as similar or different to Legacy Events, which gave us valuable insights into the nuances between the two brands.
Finding your voice - The 4 dimensions of TOV
Finding the right tone of voice is crucial for any brand. Communication needs to be consistent throughout the company, but more than that, it should reflect who you are, how you want to come across to the world and it must align with how your users want to be communicated with.
For this, we use the 4 dimensions of TOV:
- Funny vs. serious
- Formal vs. casual
- Respectful vs. irreverent
- Enthusiastic vs. matter-of-fact
Asking Abena, Carole and Laura to mark on each of the scales where they thought Legacy landed, gave us a clear sense of how they wanted to sound. They were also able to see if they were on the same page and discuss any differences of opinion.
After the workshop, we got to work on the copy. Having gone into such detail throughout the day, there was no doubt we had everything we needed to create a superb manifesto.
We poured back through the notes and Miro boards, absorbing everything we’d learned and distilling it into highly concentrated copy.
How we did
“You were a complete joy to work with and made the process so much fun! Your talent and skill have given Legacy Marketplace a voice in the industry that we believe is right for the brand and team, and will resonate with our target audience. You can't get better than that!”
Lauren Nicholson, Head of Marketing
In addition to giving Legacy the ‘beautifully crafted copy’ they asked for, we helped them discover their identity.
Now, they can move into the world with an unshakeable purpose, a crystal clear sense of who they are and the values that guide them.
Their principle-driven manifesto will steer their actions and communications for a long time to come.
Lauren recently emailed us saying, “I'm proud every time I use it. I'm onboarding a new team member next week and I can't wait to present it to her so she knows what the marketplace is all about!”
Legacy Marketplace launches on 13 April 2021. We’re confident they’ll be writing many success stories of their own.