By Sarah Spence

High Road has been on quite a journey over the last two years. One of the biggest milestones in this journey has been re-evaluating our brand, determining what it means to our whole community (staff, clients, partners…), and redefining it in a way that is meaningful.

High Road has always had a very personable brand, so we decided to embrace it. We Make it Personal is now our rallying cry. Ultimately at High Road, we realized that there is no, “just business.” Life is personal.

Part of my career was spent at Orange, the global mobile operator. That company built one of the most amazing brands in the world. It was simple, yet beautiful and it had a positive, aspirational message that inherently made people feel good: “The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Orange.” When it launched in 1994, it was like a breath of fresh air in a hyper-competitive and crowded UK market. Their launch ad still stands the test of time in terms of telling a powerful, yet simple story.

It was at Orange that I saw how you could take a brand promise and execute it across an entire organization to deliver a powerful business result. Instead of focusing on technology the way the other mobile operators were, Orange focused on straightforward and honest communications with customers. It made the complicated simple and transformed the cold tone of techno-speak into something warm, fun and friendly. It worked.

There are three things that I learned from my time at Orange that remain relevant as we head into 2015.

The first is that a brand has to stand for something. It doesn’t have to be altruistic (Orange simply stood for a world without phone wires), but it does need to be clear, simple and told in an inspired way.

The second is the power of a brand lies deep within the heart of every organization. However, it takes a strong and united leadership team to deliver on a brand promise by ensuring flawless execution of the brand right across the company.

And the third is that to survive, a brand needs to be alive and evolving in real-time. No longer is it about the campaign; it’s about the conversation. Adaptability will be crucial for marketers and communicators in 2015. Forget looking at your brand quarter by quarter, you need to have the agility to evaluate your brand minute by minute. Today brands are living, breathing, entities owned by the community – employees, customers, partners and anyone else who interacts with them. As long as a brand is transparent, stays authentic and true to its core story, it can thrive in our social world. In fact, it’s good to shake it up. The Orange brand only started to falter when it became too precious. Adaptability and agility are now core skills in the marketing world.

At High Road, the core of our story has always been great people doing amazing things. In redefining our brand, we realized High Road had meaning for people, but we needed to articulate it and bring it to life in an inspired way. Our rallying cry of We Make it Personal is both an articulation of our philosophy and our behaviour.

As we near the end of 2014 we are starting to see articles on marketing trends and predictions for 2015.

My own prediction is that nothing will matter so much as these three rules:

  1. Continually re-evaluate your brand story – what does your brand stand for? What are you doing to create a personal connection between your brand and your customer?
  2. Consider the brand experience. Are you delivering the brand promise across your entire organization? The promise can be delivered (or not) in a multitude of little ways from customer service right through to how you bill for your product or service.
  3. And finally, stay true to your brand, but adapt, evolve, be transparent, authentic and above all else, make it personal.