The meaning behind meaningful branding.

We are the meaningful branding agency. It is how we introduce ourselves and describe what’s unique about us at TOTEM. It’s our promise to our customers which guides everything we do.

We are the meaningful branding agency. It is how we introduce ourselves and describe what’s unique about us at TOTEM. It’s our promise to our customers which guides everything we do.

But what does it mean? Why does it matter?

And most importantly of all – how can you start to adopt this philosophy and thinking into your organisation to better connect with your audiences? This article seeks to answer this and more – to share what our clients and have discovered over decades of experimenting and learning. And help you deliver more effective branding that achieves your ambitions.

Meaningful means having a meaning.

Yikes – a mouthful. But it does. And it is as simple as that. Or put another way, it means having a purpose. It’s branding that has complete clarity around what it is trying to achieve. And most importantly, why! Branding is often seen as a new logo or a fresh lick of paint. More often again, changes are driven by the personal style preferences of internal decision makers with little regard for their strategic merits. But branding is about so much more.

Brand purpose is much like what a foundation is to a house, a conductor is to an orchestra and a canvas is to an artists masterpiece.


Your brand is your reputation

And the art of branding, is about actively shaping that reputation. Proactively taking steps to mould and reinforce the perceptions people have about your organisation and what it stands for. It absolutely relies on tools like eye-catching visuals, distinctive colour palettes, fresh creative and engaging messaging. But without a clear purpose – without clarity on the meaning these elements are trying to convey – they become just noise.

Or worse. Because if these elements are telling conflicting stories, you could be wasting a lot of time and money damaging your brand. Every interaction people have with your company, either builds or breaks your brand. It reinforces people’s perception of you, or it clouds and confuses it. Too many mixed messages about who you are and what your stand for, can create a real sense of distrust. Your words will begin to feel hollow. You’ll be seen to lack authenticity.

Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon.

How to make your branding more meaningful

To make your branding meaningful, you just need to be able to answer one very simple (but incredibly difficult to answer) question.

Apart from making money, why do you exist?

And if you’ve never watched this Ted Talk from Simon Sinek before, it’s well worth twenty minutes of your time…

video screen

In our branding workshops, we help clients uncover their why, by looking at their business through three different lenses.

1. The Customer Lens

Start by jotting down all your different customer types. And then try to whittle your list to a few key types who you can really spend time getting to understand. Quite often, when you’re looking at your business like this it’s because you’re seeking to transform in some way.

So, ask yourself, which customer type is going to be most critical to making that transformation happen? And which customer type do you need to most protect on your journey – make sure you don’t lose or alienate. Then spend some time walking in their shoes. Really imagine who they are as people. What are their pains? What do they love? What are their core needs?

2. The Competitor Lens

You don’t operate in isolation. So, once you’ve a really deep understanding of your customer point of view, look at your competitors.

And be honest – what are they better at? What problems are they better positioned to solve? Don’t forget to think beyond the traditional. Are their alternate ways your customers need could be solved, or removed entirely – for e.g., through new technology?

3. The Internal Lens

And then finally, look within.

  • What are you truly good at? And why?
  • What problems are you passionate about solving? And why?
  • What makes a candidate the right fit for your organisation? And why?
  • What do you say no to? And why?

Keep on asking questions. And keep on asking why. Peeling back the onion layers, until you can finally, simply, answer the question – why do you exist?

Ideal zone

Now you have your meaning

Once you have your why, you have your meaning from which all branding can flow. At TOTEM we came out of this process realising that we exist to create success stories. Your success stories. And that governs everything we do. It’s our DNA. We hope this article has been helpful, in showing how you might be able to adopt a meaningful branding philosophy in your organisation. And start transforming your brand to achieve your ambitious dreams.

But if you’ve any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or drop us a line. We’d love to chat.