With the launch of a new dedicated production arm, we spoke to Lucy Hunter, Director of Brand Strategy at Guinness World Records (GWR) about what it takes to build a brand identity that can grow with your business.
In today’s evolving digital age, businesses – no matter how large or small – often find themselves in a position of brand adaptation to stay afloat of current market trends, keep in line with new ways of engaging with audiences and expand into new viable territories.
However, when you’re only recognised for a limited area of your wider business, brand adaption or breaking out with new offerings can leave you pushing uphill.
We recently sat down with Lucy Hunter, Director of Brand Strategy at Guinness World Records to share her experience pushing beyond the heritage of the book with the successful launch of GWR Studios, a new creative production offering from the brand. We chatted about how to overcome the pressure of retaining a powerful core brand identity, and explored practical guidance for marketers looking to strengthen the way that audiences perceive their business.
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Reflecting on GWR’s experience, Lucy says, “for a lot of people, there's a nostalgic element to GWR - they had the book when they were a child and watched the TV show growing up. Although that connection is still very much there, we are always conscious of how people are consuming content today, which has ultimately led to a big digital push for the brand in the last decade.
Find out more on the launch GWR Studios here
With an ever-growing number of platforms, devices and advertising formats, the way audiences are consuming your brand content changes over time.
For example, millennials prefer to view content online with 37% binge-watching daily across social platforms. Moreover, TV has become increasingly out-of-favour as audience’s attention span drops to an average of 8 seconds and the demand for ‘on-the-go’ content rises.
The changing nature of consumer behaviour has caused a major shift for the way many brands engage with their audience – not least for the team at Guinness World Records.
“The success of the content we have put out on social platforms is part of why we launched GWR Studios, it has been a natural progression to package what we have learnt into a content production arm, building on our own creative development, production, and content over the years.”
The shifts or changes to your core business offering should reflect the wants and needs of your target market, but this is often easier said than done. For Guinness World Records, it’s been a journey of continuous small changes.
Lucy says on GWR’s business offering expansion, “usually, the shifts we’ve needed to make to meet the demands of our audiences are relatively small.
For example, we've had an entertainment arm of the business for a long time with live events, but with the rise in popularity of experiential formats, we have expanded to offer these live events in many different ways over the years - from large scale shows to shopping centre pop-ups and everything in between, adapting accordingly for different territories and audiences.
It’s about constantly getting to grips with what our audiences want, testing what we know about them, and how they are interacting with the brand, then understanding how we can have a piece of the latest pie.”
With 72% of surveyed executives utilising social media data to inform business decisions and 85% agreeing that social data will be a primary source of business intelligence, Lucy reiterates the impact that social platforms have had on GWR, particularly for gathering audience insights.
“You learn so much by being on these platforms, the interaction that you get from users on your social content will always be the good, the bad and the ugly, which is valuable insight.
The data from these social interactions gives us a lot of knowledge about specific topics or areas that perform well, from which we can make informed decisions about where we need to improve, what to prioritise, and possible opportunities to develop.”
Continually enhancing, extending, or strengthening your brand identity can help maximise your reach, promote business stability, and most importantly build strong consumer loyalty.
As Lucy shares, “it's so important that we have regular research in place. Over the years, we have conducted lots of different kinds of focus groups to understand our audiences and make small shifts to target their wants and needs rather than making assumptions.”
According to a study by Label Insights, 94% of audiences will stay loyal to a transparent brand, which indicates the foundation of strengthening your brand is honesty, visibility and an understanding of your audience.
“It's important that we do keep testing our assumptions and our knowledge. We conduct regular brand sentiment and awareness surveys across all our core markets to understand the impact of strategic projects or new offerings, by measuring key metrics like an NPS score or brand recognition. By keeping the questions the same each time you can then track any changes.”
Measuring your brand perception, identifying the need for change, audience research and more – it all goes into building the case for a new offering. But how do you drive these new efforts into the heart of your business? More importantly, how do you drive it home for your external audience?
In-house teams failing to understand your brand identity can make your quest to communicate your brand to target audiences a near enough impossible challenge.
Lucy says, “the key is to have the right people in the room from the start. It's a massive risk to launch a new offering without gaining the understanding of where it will fit in the business, as it can end up being quite siloed.
A new offering might be led from a certain sector within the business, but it must evolve from there throughout all departments to ensure it fits together with the overall brand identity.”
Lucy adds, “when you are a known organisation like Guinness World Records, simplicity is key to expansion; it's about developing what you have to the next stage and keeping up with market opportunities. If in doubt about whether something is right for your brand, think of your purpose. Our purpose is to make the world a more interesting, fun, and positive place and so when it comes to new offerings, this is the anchor that drives decisions.
Brand consistency is making sure your new offerings or channels are consistent in terms of displaying the core brand values, image and messaging. 90% of potential customers expect to have a similar experience with your brand across all platforms/channels, inconsistency in brand experience can lead to a massive loss of trust, highlighting the importance of implementing a brand guideline.
Lucy states that GWR “focus on ensuring consistency is threaded through at the start of all core brand projects.
You must make sure as you're expanding that your house is in order so that you have the tools you need to keep that consistency. I like to think of it as ‘making sure the house is stable before you build the extension’. Within the brand team, we are constantly working to protect and enhance our core brand tools in the background so we have what we need to stay robust as we develop.”
Lucy says “As guardians of the brand it is important to speak up and push back when necessary - it's not always possible, but try to get your point across when something doesn't feel right. And don’t forget to always be strengthening aspects of the brand that are already under the hood - it isn’t always about announcing a big change.
If you want to be a brand that will remain for many years to come, you can't overlook the fact that you need to constantly be improving the core elements that you already have.”
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