Staying On Brand

Blog Post by: Elaine Honig

My awesome team of brilliant young e-marketers and event-creators at STUDIO 4Forty loves talking to our partners about being on-brand for our events. Sometimes they have to edit or nix suggestions that might slightly miss the mark, because they’re “off-brand.” So, what exactly does it mean to be “on-brand” and how can we work together to create a unified image to help you and your organization maximize your fundraising goals at your upcoming event?

As the Founder of STUDIO 4Forty and an entrepreneur who’s created three successful brands, I’d like to shed some light (and toss in a little glitter and champagne) on how I came to understand the basics about branding and being “on-brand.” Sharing my journey will hopefully save you time and get you excited about this process of discovery as you prepare for your event!

My Journey aka Pick My Brain

As an entrepreneur who’s dedicated the past 25 years to creating major brands with staying power, I’m keen on saving you time by laying-out the basics about how to create a dynamic brand dedicated to improving lives. Once you understand brand-making, coming up with on-brand add-ons for your events will seem natural and fun.

Major Pro-Tip: My three key elements to branding and being on-brand:

Personality. Character. Values.

Being “on-brand” means staying true to the initial choices that defined the personality, character and values at the core of the event (or business). Making sure every choice, from communication, to event planning, to banners, and event elements, mirrors the key concepts and goals of the event/business.

From Wine To Shoes

When I co-created and developed my first brand, a family-owned, boutique, Napa Valley winery, my goal was to position and grow a locally-owned family business into a nationally-recognized wine company. The brand needed to be re-vitalized to become irresistible and relevant. To make this happen, I sat down and asked myself simple, but important questions like:

If this wine were a person, what would he/she/they be like?

Silly? Nope. Asking this almost child-like question and coming up with all kinds of cool answers over time helped me define the Personality of the Brand.

I decided the wine would be a person who’d be fun to be around, be of high-quality, creative and congenial. After you’d imbibed, you’d walk away feeling like you’d gotten more than you expected and would be eager to return again to experience this person/wine.

This Brand Personality Profile helped me define business decisions from packaging to winery events covering every aspect of communication and consumer experience. This wine personality profile guided all my business decisions, so when added up, they were bulls-eye “on-brand.”

Fast Forward to Wine Women and Shoes

When I was developing my new business, Wine Women & Shoes, which with the addition of Farm to Table(aux) became STUDIO 4Forty, I was excited to ask myself questions that felt more like I was dating someone than doing work!

Branding 101: Personality

I asked myself … if Wine Women & Shoes were a new friend I wanted to meet and be with, what kind of person would she be? I decided she’d be

– Fun to be around

– Supportive of other women

– Likes celebrating other women’s successes and

– Loves to be with her girlfriends

And this is where Personality starts moving into Character.

Branding 101: Character

Character, to me, is what the company/brand/friend looks like on the inside. Personality is what the company/brand/friend look like out the outside. What are the internal qualities of my Wine Women & Shoes friend?        

– She likes to bond

– Create close, meaningful relationships with her friends

– She’s expressive and loves to dance, go out, dress-up, woo-hoo with champagne and a pair of Manolos

– She’s generous, cares about her greater world, and likes to be involved with not-for-profits because she wants to help change things for the better

– She walks the aspirational talk and knows how to have fun, and not be preachy doin’ it

– Basically, she’s fab inside and out. She’s you/me/us. She’s Wine Women & Shoes

What’s Next?

Once I understand the brand and know its personality and character, I start creating elements for an event like e-blasts, banners, table design or elements of live performance. I look at everything through the lens of the Wine Women & Shoes character, and ask, “Does what I want to do fit with the personality and character of the brand?”

If the answer is YES, you’re on-brand!

If the answer is maybe not so much, take a few breaths, and when you’re ready, play with some new ideas.

Branding 101: Values

Our event brands also have a purpose and a focus. But more on that next time. The STUDIO 4Forty personality doesn’t give everything away at the first meet! She holds back some of the good stuff for the next time we get together.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, reach out and brainstorm with us. We’re STUDIO 4Forty friends, and we’re here for you.

Oh, one last thing.

You! Go! Girl!