Stephen Houraghan on The Changed Branding Industry

Join Our Newsletter

Privacy Policy 



Stephen Houraghan,  founder of the Brand Master Academy,  is a brand strategist who helps designers and brand builders to package up their creative thinking and specialise as brand strategists. 

Show Notes

He teaches graphic designers and copywriters, who are executing within the brand on the tactical side, on how to focus more on the strategic side. 

In this episode, Stephen discusses that everything starts with the audience, The brand exists in the mind of the audience, without which it has no reason to exist. 

This episode covers:

  • How the brand starts from within and then looks outwards.
  • How to revisit a brand strategy especially for small businesses 
  • The strategic process of developing a brand identity
  • How the branding industry has changed 
  • Importance of collaboration between the brand strategist and client in creating a brand
  • Brand equity is the value of the brand
  • The importance of audience in creating a brand

LinkedIn: Stephen Houraghan
Facebook: Stephen Houraghan
Instagram: @brandmasteracademy
YouTube: Brand Master Academy
Website: www.
Pro Strategy Blueprint

Valuable Resources:

Brand Tuned Scorecard
Brand Tuned Accelerator 



Stephen Houraghan: Today for me, the brand has really evolved past the subset of marketing that it once was. And it's now an entity and a discipline that governs everything within the business.

Shireen Smith: Hello, and welcome to the Brand Tuned podcast, which discusses all things brand related, including the essential trademark and IP dimension. I'm your host, Shireen Smith, IP lawyer, Brand Manager, and author of Brand Tuned: The new rules of branding, strategy, and intellectual property.

Shireen Smith: Before the episode begins, I just want to mention the Brand Tuned Accreditation course, which is in the pipeline, it will cover how to create a brand strategy, taking account of intellectual property as it arises during the process. Brand protection considerations impact the choice of names or other brand identifiers. So, to make better branding decisions, register your interest The link is in the show notes.

Stephen Houraghan: I've been kicked, kicked out.

Shireen Smith: Is it evening over there?

Stephen Houraghan: Yes, it's 8:31 in the evening.

Shireen Smith: Oh, wow, I'm usually brain dead by then.

Stephen Houraghan: By luck, when you know when you're on the other side of the world, you know, Australia usually draws the short end of the stick when it comes to timing. So, you just you just have to make do.

Shireen Smith: Well, thank you for doing that.

Stephen Houraghan: No problem.

Shireen Smith: We'll start. So welcome to the Brand Tuned podcast, Steven. Steven, introduce yourself, please and let us know a bit more about what you do.

Stephen Houraghan: Yeah, no problem, my name is Stephen Houraghan. I'm based in Australia originally from Ireland. My background is actually in finance first. And then later, I moved into graphic design, and that became an obsession with branding. And I created an agency called Iconic Fox, which I still run to this day. But lately, I've been more focused on my education business, which is Brand Mastery Academy where I teach graphic designers, copywriters, the likes of those who are executing within brand on a tactical side, how to focus more on the strategic side. So, they can provide a more holistic service to their clients through brand strategy.

Shireen Smith: Okay, what is a brand? How would you define a brand?

Stephen Houraghan: Well, a brand really is the meaning that we provide people about what our business should mean to them. Now, when, when a lot of people think about branding, they think about the visuals of a brand, they think if they have the visuals, if they have the logo on the website, that they're good to go. But really, that's not a brand, they are some brand assets. But in order to have a brand, you really need to define who your audience is, and what you want to provide them and why that's different to your competitors. So, the brand is about giving them that meaning as to why you're different from your competitors, and why they should remember you and what kind of value you represent to them.

Shireen Smith: Okay, so what's brand strategy, then what do you do? In order to define the brand, you do that before you do the designs. So.

Stephen Houraghan: Yes, so brand strategy is really about defining who the brand is. So, the brand identity is all about giving the brand that look and feel how does the brand look in the market. What kind of color palette does it use? How does the logo look what kind of typography and image style does it use, but long before you get to that point, you need to define who the brand is, and who the brand is starts internally. So, we think about if we think about our brand, as a person, so as people we all have our internal feelings, you know, what we believe what our goals are, where we want to get to what kind of values we live by. And that's the philosophy that I live with that when we're building a brand, we're really building an entity to connect with other people. And if we think of that entity as another person, and we build the brand like that, then we start from within so what does the brand mean internally, and once you've defined that what it means internally, then you can start to look outwards, and the first place you look outwards is towards the audience. Because everything starts with the audience, the brand exists for the audience without, without that audience that the brand simply has no reason to exist. So, it's really about defining who that audience is, the environment in which they live in, what kind of challenges they have, what kind of pain points they have. And then really understanding what they want from a brand what they want from a solution and defining the difference that the brand is going to make in their lives when compared to their competitors. So once the brand is defined internally, then it's about defining who that audience is, and defining what the meaning is that you're going to provide them with. Now, look, all we can do as branding experts, as, as people who build brands is trying to have an influence on our audience, we can define our position that we want to own in the mind of our audience, but at the end of the day, it is the audience that will decide where they're going to place us in their mind. And they will decide that based on the experiences that they have with us on a day-to-day basis over many different touchpoints. So, our role as branding professionals, as branding experts, or any anybody building a brand really is to identify those individual touch points and identify the meaning that we want our audience to have about us the position that we want our audience to store our brand in their mind, and then design every single touch point to align with that position. So that they start to form this perception about us and what they mean. So that when it comes time to that buying decision, that they're able to recall our brand. So, defining that brand strategy is really all about defining exactly what the brand is going to mean, the position that we want to own in the mind of our audience, and how we're going to communicate that position so that we can form that perception.

Shireen Smith: I must say, when I first started in business, it was very difficult to know who to go to I mean, what is the brand and branding industry? Because there were designers in networking groups who talked about branding. And then there were generally no marketers, but if there were they didn't talk about branding, and then I heard that advertisers also are involved in branding. So, what is the branding industry exactly?

Stephen Houraghan: You're spot on, it's a very, very splintered industry. And we have so many different skill sets involved within building a brand. You know, as you said, we have designers we have copywriters, we have advertisers, social media managers, marketers, every different discipline that goes into building a brand. And they all have their individual opinions on what branding means. So, it's, it's very splintered, and very fractured. And we get all these different perceptions. And I think what's kind of contributed to that is the traditional education route going into marketing. So, marketing for the last 40 years, it's, you know, it's not really changed too much. And the way marketing was taught, you know, 40 years ago, branding was this small subset of marketing, you know, you, you know, you had your four p's and, and, you know, you had all of your traditional concepts and then brand was taught in and amongst that whereas, today, and this is my opinion, this is my philosophy, you might have many traditional marketers argue with me, but today for me, the brand has really evolved past the subset of marketing that it once was. And it's now an entity and a discipline that governs everything within the business through you know, business decisions, marketing decisions, customer service decisions, because the brand is the entity. And at the end of the day, that brand is the what we're trying to place in the mind of the audience so that we can influence their buying decisions. So, it's, it's really come a long way from where it was taught 40 years ago. And it's evolved now into this bigger entity and because it has evolved the way it has, with so many different individual disciplines involved in building a brand. We're all kind of turning inwards now and looking back towards the brand to ask bigger questions. Okay, what are we doing here? From a tactical perspective? As a designer, I'm trying to do X Y Z, but why am I trying to do that, and copywriters are the same. So, anybody involved in the tactical side of branding, when they start to ask those bigger questions and turn around, and they start to look internally about what a brand is, that's when we get to the core of what branding is all about, and that's when we get to the core of strategy.

Shireen Smith: It's obviously quite difficult for a new business starting out to have that sort of vision. Because to some extent, you need to wait to see how the market responds to your offering. And the brand is going to evolve. So, would you have a different approach for creating a brand-new brand? And what happens when you revisit the strategy? Maybe five years down the line?

Stephen Houraghan: Yeah, absolutely, and look, there's this, you know, depending on who you talk to, there's this argument about, you know, which came first the chicken or the egg, you know, what do we do first as a business, because if you go into the market, half baked, you're not really sure on who your audience is, you're not really sure how you're different from your competitors, you're not really sure how to connect and resonate with who that audience is because you don't know them deeply enough. And you don't have a personality or a messaging strategy or a storytelling strategy to really connect with who they are. So, there is this, this argument that will branding is later, you know, you go to the market, you, you know, you, you try and survive the first year, the first two years. And then if we're successful in doing that, then we can turn them focus on the brand. But if you go into the market without really having considered these bigger questions, and really, that's what brand strategy is all about is considering those bigger questions and having definitive answers to those questions. Because at the end of the day, you can go to the market. And if you don't define what it is that you want to mean, to your audience, well, then they have nothing to go on, they will find their own perception. And if you're, if you're not clear about your offer, if you're not clear what they should remember, when they see your brand, or they see your offer, then chances are they're not going to remember what you want them to remember. So if you start first with the brand, if you start or start first internally, and understand where you want to go as a business where you want to go as a brand, and then again, how you're going to be different to your competitors, and who it is exactly that you're trying to appeal to if you don't have that locked down, then the chances of you surviving those first two or three years are significantly decreased. So, my belief is that when you build a business, before you get that business to market, you better be crystal clear on who your brand is, what it means, and why your audience should remember your brand when compared to your competitors. And that is what branding is all about. So yes, definitely, for me, brand comes first. And until you are crystal clear about your brand, then, you know, you're really gonna hamper your chances of having any success. Even if you have a great offer. Even if you have a great business, if you're not clear on your audience, and you're not clear about the message that you want to put into the market, then you're doing that business a disservice.

Shireen Smith: So how often would you revisit your brand strategy? Is it something you do? And that's done? Or what do you actually do?

Stephen Houraghan: Yeah, it's definitely an iterative process. And depending on the size of your team, again, coming back to small business, you know, if a solopreneur, or a one or two person operation really does take the time to invest in their brand, then you know, you're not going to have them revisit it every three months or so. But if you're talking about a bigger team, who have specialists who are keeping their finger on the pulse, then you're going to be keeping an eye on this stuff constantly. But as your business grows, as you begin to, you know, generate awareness and you begin to generate that traffic on to your website, generate those leads and those customers, these are things that you can be analyzing as you go. So, a perfect example of this is simply having a net promoter score email that goes out to your customers, after you know, a certain few week or a certain few months, however long they've been with your business depending on what the service or the product or the service is to get that feedback and to turn that internally and look at How we can be improving? Okay, well, we've gotten this feedback over here from our customers, and there seems to be a pattern here, they want more of this, how about we have a look at our business and our brand from this perspective and is there a segment of the market that we're completely overlooking, that we could actually, you know, come back to, and, and, you know, have more impact on. So, it is an iterative process, it's not a once you know, it's said and done. You know, again, coming back to the, to the human brand analogy, it's ever evolving, we, as we evolve as people, what the market wants today, might not be what the market wants tomorrow, because at the end of the day, the market is just a group of people, and we're changing all the time, we're evolving all the time. So, if you don't have your finger on the pulse, if you're not keeping an eye, on your market, if you're not keeping an eye, on your audience and your competitors, as well, for opportunities that might arise, then, you know, you're, eventually you will start to fall behind. So, it's definitely something that you need to keep an eye on, to keep a finger on the pulse to really speak to the audience, the audience's key and speaking to them as often as you can to get that to get that feedback loop going. And to take that feedback and to, you know, to make strategic decisions with it.

Shireen Smith: So, what do you think, is the purpose of design? You know, you've got a brand name, and you've got designs, what's, what's its purpose, and when is it appropriate to change the look that you have gone to market?

Stephen Houraghan: Well, any change of luck really needs to be a strategic change. You know, there, there are decisions that are made on a whim, you know, where a brand, they've gone into the market, and for whatever reason, you know, things might not be working the way the way they thought they did, but if they really haven't taken the time to go through the strategic process, and then they decide, well, you know, it's, it's the brand identity that's not working well, in there, you know, there's not a lot of evidence to, you know, to support that a change in a brand identity is, is what's going to make them successful, it might not be the brand identity whatsoever. So, the brand identity is developed, as I said, from a strategic point of view, so when we're developing the brand, we're developing the position, and the way that we're going to communicate that position, we move into the personality of the brand, and the attributes of the brand. And these are all characteristics that will contribute to that position and to that meaning that we want our audience to have. And remember, we're thinking about our brand, as a person here. So, you know, for example, Harley Davidson, you know, Harley Davidson, when we think of that brand, we think of we tend to think of attributes that are, you know, that we would, that we would relate to humans, so would be, you know, rugged and tough and, you know, rebellious, that those kind of characteristics. And, you know, when you're developing your brand, and you're very, very crystal clear on who the audience is, and the characteristics they're attracted to, that's when it can start to influence the brand that you build and the personality that you build around your messaging. And then that flows into the brand identity. So again, using the Harley Davidson example, a brand that has those characteristics, you know, rugged and tough, we wouldn't be thinking about, you know, light and bright colors, like yellow and pastel green, and things like that, we would be thinking more dark, and grungy and gritty and textural, you know, patterns and, and textures. And, you know, these are all characteristics that we're taking from the strategy that we've defined based on who the audience is and what they want. And now we're flowing them into the visual identity, how the brand is going to look how it's going to present in the market, and, you know, putting those characteristics at their visually. So, when a person with that type of personality, and with those desires, when they see something like that, they immediately think, okay, that's me, that's for me, you know, these are my kind of colors, these are my kind of textures. These are my kind of tones. So that's what the visual identity does, it's used as a visual cue to get that attention. And because, you know, visually, it's such a strong tool, because, you know, our primitive brain sees things and communicates to us, you know, through visuals so much quicker than, than communication than language. So, it's a very, very powerful tool. If you're able to take what we've defined in the strategy through those attributes and put that into the visuals. Then we've got a method to communicate to our customers to our audience. very, very quickly through those visuals. So that's, that's how we commit to communicate our brand visually. And any change to that should be considered, you know, internally, strategically. So, has our audience changed? has what they want change? Are we going after a different segment here? Or, you know, was there a segment that we were overlooking, and maybe a little tweak on our brand identity here could appeal more to that segment. So, any decision that has to be made has to be made through strategy and really understanding what's going on? And why we're making this decision.

Shireen Smith: In your experience, how much do business owners actually understand the brand? I mean, when you're helping a business. Are you actually making decisions for them? Do they fully understand what they're doing in terms of branding?

Stephen Houraghan: It really depends. But in my experience, when we when we get down to small business, the answer is no. They, they, they understand what they have been taught by the market. And what I mean by that is that there is a lot of misinformation out there about what branding is, what a brand is, what a logo is, and you know, this has come about because it was very, very easy all of a sudden for people to create businesses, for people to become freelancers. And all of a sudden, we had marketplaces like and Upwork pop up, and, you know, anybody who had Illustrator or Photoshop, call themselves a designer, and they were able to sell branding services. And there was a lot of information put out into the market about what branding actually was, and the perception that landed on the market was branding, as cheap branding can be done for, you know, for $50 or $100. You know, you pay somebody online, and then all of a sudden, you have a brand. And that's not what branding is, branding is, as, as I've said, there's, there's a lot that goes into branding. And, you know, we, we get caught up in that certainly, certainly small business owners, when they go into market, they they've got a lot of them, they have a budget problem, they, they don't have a lot of budgets, and you know, a lot of businesses are created on a shoestring. And there, they want, they don't want to unnecessarily invest their money, you know, in places that they don't believe, has any real value for the money. And I completely understand that coming from a small business background myself. But unfortunately, they just don't have that knowledge and know-how and that education that will listen, if we actually take a bit of time here and we understand who your audience is, then this product or this service that you believe has got legs and has potential, you know, we will be able to put that in front of more relevant people in a way that those people will find your brand or your offer more compelling to them, because we've really taken the time to think about who they are, and what they want, and how we're going to be different from our competitors. So, there is a massive education gap in the market. And I think we are coming to a place now where we're, you know, the trajectory has turned there's a lot of influencers, that that small business owners look up to know who have started to change the conversation about branding, and about brand strategy, that look, you need more than a logo, you need more than a website, you need a brand. And a brand is not created in a couple of days. You know, in Adobe software, a brand is built through understanding who the audience is. And by building meaning and having a having an actual strategy to put the message out there in the marketplace. But long term, I think this is going to a place where and I've even seen this myself a lot of the clients and the prospects that come to me now that they seem a lot more educated when I start to talk about positioning and differentiation. You know, they their eyes don't wide over like they used to, you know, they've been listening they've been they've been watching videos, they've been reading books, and they understand a lot more now about what branding is compared to, you know, going back maybe five, six years ago. So, there's definitely a change in trend that I've seen that small business owners are a lot more clued in and they're going out now looking for more than just design services. They're going out with the idea that look, I know that a brand is not a logo. I'm still not entirely sure about what it is but I know that I need something more than that. So, there is There is definitely movement towards that. But I still think we've got a long way to go. And any professional who's in the game, you know, who is helping their clients build their brand, they are part of that solution to educate their clients and to hold their hand and say, Look, you know, this is what you need. And you know, I'm going to help you get there. So, you know, as I said, I think we've got a long way to go, but we're definitely heading in the right direction.

Shireen Smith: Okay, well, thinking in terms of audiences, let's turn it around. So, you are offering, say, brand strategy services. And you know that you want customers who get it, who aren't just thinking it's a logo, who don't just want something cheap, who do really value the service. How do you go about actually finding the right people, so you don't talk to the wrong ones?

Stephen Houraghan: So, we start with the brand within, so we start with ourselves? Okay, so. So, the difference that a brand strategist has over, let's say, a designer, is that, you know, they have a more holistic service that can provide better outcomes, that's a great starting point, to be different from the rest of the market. But you really need to then apply that and, you know, go a bit deeper. So, I offer brandings brand strategy services, but who do I offer those services to? Is it small business owners? Well, if it's small business owners, you know, that could be, you know, 60% of all businesses in the world. So, you know, or SMEs small to medium enterprises. So, you know, saying that you have this service for this massive group of people, you know, you're still not relevant enough, you need to keep going with that, you know, you might need to get a little bit more niche in terms of the branding service that you offer, maybe you offer storytelling services, or, or brand communication services getting a little bit more specific, maybe you offer that to the hospitality market, or you offer that to a sub industry within the hospitality market, maybe you offer that to breweries or wineries, something where you're getting so specific, that when somebody sees a message from your brand, they self-identify. So, they say, ah, that's me. And if you say, XYZ for small business, you know, for me, as a small business owner, I'm going to gloss over that every day. So, getting crystal clear, first and foremost, on who your audience is, gives you so much more to go on that. And I know that's counterintuitive to narrow your market when, especially when you need more clients. And you need more business early on this idea that you need to narrow your focus and should add all of this potential business, you know, to become more relevant, it's very, very counterintuitive. And there's a lot of pushbacks on that, you know, certainly for businesses starting off that they don't want to limit themselves, because, you know, I need clients at the moment. But if you don't narrow that field, then those potential clients are those prospects that can't hear you anyway, above all, the noise is not until you get very, very relevant with who you're talking to, that you can craft a message that will speak directly to them. So again, going back to the hospitality industry, or breweries or wineries, if you know who that who your audience is. And you know that that where they congregate. And you can find Facebook groups, you can find LinkedIn groups, you can collect content, where, you know, when it comes to SEO keyword, that competitiveness is very, very low, because you're going so specific on the articles that you're writing, when it comes to advertisements, whether it's Google ads, and choosing those keywords, and, you know, not having to pay the high prices, that the general keywords tend to cause and you can go a lot more specific and niche with those keywords, or your Facebook ads, where you get, you know, you really narrow down on who this audience is. So, in defining your brand strategy early on, it reduces your marketing costs and makes your marketing budget a lot more efficient. Because you're able to sniper, you know, you're able to take a sniper like approach and go directly to where they are rather than take, you know, the broad-based approach where you know, your marketing dollars are not going as far because you're having to reach out to so many different people.

Shireen Smith: So, I understand, sorry to interrupt that you've defined who you're going after. But then how do you make sure that you have somebody who's actually serious because even within an industry you get all sorts of different people do just hope that the right people will resonate with your message. And we'll come through to how

Stephen Houraghan: Yeah, well, that's, well, certainly that's part of it. Because I mean, if you're putting messages out into the market, that's, you know, where you're talking about positioning strategy, or storytelling or messaging, or, you know, communication strategy, as opposed to, you know, your logo design or your color palette. And these people see your, your content or your ads, and they're getting value from that, it means that you are becoming a magnet for the right people. And those people are drawn into you, and you're repelling those who are all about the logo or all about, you know, the visuals, or who only want a website. Now, of course, you will still get people who come on to your, your website, from a broad spectrum of people, and, and I still get this as well. And, you know, there is still a process that you need to go through here. One process could be, you know, a filter on your inquiries page, where you ask them to, you know, to answer a few questions, and you might even have a minimum budget question in there, asking, you know, is your budget between one to $3,000 to $10,000 to $30,000. And if they check the one to $3,000, you know, that that's somebody who cannot afford your services, then you provide them with an automated message that says, Look, thank you, but we are unable to help you. And it's a way to filter out the people who you can't help because there's a lot of wasted time, certainly, when it comes to, you know, designers and professionals who have a broad net, you know, sitting on the phone, and I know this, because I've been down that road, I've learned from my mistakes I had, you know, I did not have processes, I did not have systems, where I knew how to filter out the wrong clients and attract the right clients. And I've been guilty of sitting for hours on end with somebody. And, yes, strategizing over the phone, giving my ideas, you know, tell them that they could do this, and they could do that. And, and then by the end of it, we have a great relationship. And, you know, they tell me that they only have a $500 budget. And, you know, my services were costing 5000. So there, there are definitely ways that you can filter out the wrong type of client and attract the right type of client. But that starts with your brand strategy. Again, everything comes back to that audience. Who are they? What do they want? Where are they congregating? How are they going to remember my brand? Why am I different? Why does that matter to them? And how am I going to put that message out there into the marketplace, when I put that message out, I'm going to attract the right type of people, I'm going to repel the wrong type of people. And then when they do come into my sphere, I have systems in place to make sure that they are being even further filtered. And I'm only speaking with people who have the potential to become my clients.

Shireen Smith: So how long does your process take? If somebody comes to you for branding service. Do you have a sort of rough idea of how long it should take? From beginning.

Stephen Houraghan: Yes, look it, it can, it can take anywhere up to two or three months. And it can be as quick as a month, it really depends on the clients that you're juggling at the time. And you have to work with your clients as well, depending on the type of client, they may be very time poor, they may want to have you know, a collaborative workshop where they have all of the leadership in the room, and you're working off their times as well. But in terms of the development process, you're talking on average around about six to eight weeks. And there are different they just to do that there's obviously the discovery stage where you're trying to learn as much as you can about the client, there's the preliminary research stage where you're taking what they've given to you, and you're starting to understand their business model, you're starting to understand the industry that they're operating in, who the competitive players are. And then there's the collaborative stage where you're sitting down with the business leaders, and you're really bashing out what the brand means to them. And you're giving them the opportunity to have their say and have their input and it's really important that you do that. Because if you simply take on a job and go away and disappear for two months, and then you come back and say that I here's your brand, they're not going to feel connected to that they're not going to feel like they're part of the process. And that's when you get all of this disconnect. And that's when you get these, you know, clients saying that, you know, they're not happy with this or they're not happy with that because they have not been involved in the process if you involve them in the process from the very beginning. If you collaborate with them if you make sure that it's their input that you're listening to, and you know, and they have a say and they're part of the process. Part of the strategy development, then by the time you're done, and by the time handover comes, they're there, they're all in there invested in that outcome, because it's their brand, they have been there from the very beginning. And there's an emotional connection to a brand that you can really develop with the client. So that, you know, they feel that when it launches, they have this sense of pride. And they're really connected to it, they know exactly who their audience is, they know exactly what the brand means. And then I feel there's down everywhere throughout the brand, thread, all of the touch points and all of the internal personnel as well, if the leadership team knows who the brand is, then you can be sure they're communicating that internally so that anybody on the front lines, whether it's a customer service representative sales representative, they know what the brand is all about, because they are on the front lines of that brand, one of their, you know, their customer sales calls or their customer support calls, that is a touchpoint of the brand. So, they need to know what the brand is all about. So, it takes roughly about two months, but really getting that leadership team is a big part of that. So, they're involved in the process.

Shireen Smith: In my view, once they already have a logo and various bits and pieces in place, and you might be having a strategy session with them to better help develop the strategy, it shouldn't really need a totally different look. So, you might build on what they've already got, rather than coming up with something totally new. But in my experience, most designers will just chuck out what existed and provide something totally new, which then destroys the memory structures that consumers might have had to the branding, I'm just wondering whether you always feel whether you would always change what's existing, or how to go about?

Stephen Houraghan: Well, again, every decision needs to be made with evidence. So, if there is a brand that, you know, and they are looking for a change, it will be a very good idea for that brand, before making any rash decisions, to start creating that feedback loop where, you know, they're sending out these Net Promoter Score, emails are asking for that feedback. They're asking, you know, their audience, what they like about the brand, what they don't like about the brand, so that they can really understand what the perception at there is in the marketplace. Because at the end of the day, you know, the only reason you would keep an existing brand, when you're when you're changing the strategy internally, the only reason that you would keep those existing assets, if there is some kind of brand equity there already, if they have built up relationships with their audience, you know, their audience recognizes that brand. That's brand equity, that that takes a long time to build up and there is value in that. So before making that decision, you really need to get that feed feedback loop going with the customers to understand, you know, if they would recognize the brand, when they saw it, what kind of experiences they've had with the brand so far, where did they rate the brand, would they recommend the brand, to their friends or family now, if you're getting a lot of two’s and three’s and your net promoter score, when 10 is what you're looking for, then it's probably a very good idea to scrap the brand and the brand identity because you know, you're not holding on to any valuable brand equity. If on the other hand, you're getting nines and 10s, then this brand is brand equity there. So, there's an argument to be made that, you know, there is value in this asset that we have built. And maybe we can refresh what's already there. But keep those memory structures in place. So that, you know, we're not destroying what has been built. But again, you know, to make decisions on a whim, based on no evidence, you know, you're not doing anybody any favors there. So, I know that anybody looking for a rebrand in terms of their brand identity, if they go to a designer looking for a rebrand, that designer is going to say, Yep, let's scrap it all. And let's do a rebrand because they are skilled in the tactical side of branding, not the strategic side of branding.

Shireen Smith: And people get bored of their brand. So, they often don't realize what they're losing by just rebranding and starting again.

Stephen Houraghan: Exactly, and that's a big thing as well, because, you know, and this, this goes back to our early, earlier conversation about, you know, do business owners understand what branding is, and, you know, do they understand the value of brand and as I said before, there is a massive education gap there and, you know, I definitely believe there are a lot of brands out there who you know, decide on a rebrand because the Business Owner has seen another brand, maybe a competitor that has recently updated their visuals. And they're like, wow, you know, we need to update ours, and they completely throw out the baby with the bathwater, and start from scratch again, and they lose all of that brand equity that is built up, they've lost that perception, they've lost that goodwill with their customers, and they go back to the market. And the customers who would have gone, ah, there's that brand, again, I'll buy from them again, they, they have to start this whole relationship all over again. So, there's definitely a lot of that going on. But for any business owner, who has been there for a while, if you've been out there for, you know, two, three years, and you're considering a rebrand well, before you start to ask those questions, you know, go into your audience start to open a feedback loop because it's your audience and your customers who will provide you with the answers to those questions when you eventually get around to ask him.

Shireen Smith: Interesting. Okay, well, thanks very much, Steven, just one last question is, is there a brand you particularly admire, and why?

Stephen Houraghan: There are a few brands I particularly admire Red Bull springs to mind. And the reason that I like Red Bull so much is because they, they sell, they sell sugar water, they sell this product, that, you know, at the end of the day, you know, it's just sugar water, but what the brand actually means is something so much bigger than that, they have created this lifestyle brand, where they have tapped into, you know, this, this cult lifestyle and this adrenaline lifestyle, and they've, they've not only tapped into it, they've gone in there and completely, you know, supported so many different sports, and they've created this media house, and all of these stories that come from it. So, you know, it's a great case study to look at, when you're defining what your brand is, and what your brand wants, what you want your brand to mean. Because you don't always have to stay in your lane, you don't always have to play it safe. If you can create associations that are relevant to who your audience is, and what they want. Your brand can mean anything. So Red Bull is a brand that I that I really admire what they're doing with their media house, what they're doing with their storytelling. You know, it's just a brand to be admired. If you don't know too much about Red Bull, go out and have a look and how I look at, you know, what they're doing with their messaging, their communication, their storytelling, and look at what they're selling. And then, you know, understand that a brand is just a perception that you create in the market. A brand is just a meaning. As long as you're able to create associations, back to your business and back to your product, then your brand can mean anything you want.

Shireen Smith: That's really interesting I look them up. Thank you very much Stephen.

Stephen Houraghan: You're very welcome was good chatting to you.

Shireen Smith: Yes. Good chatting to you. Thank you.

Stephen Houraghan: Thanks Shireen.

Shireen Smith: If you enjoyed this episode, please do tell a couple of people about it, and sign up to the Brand Tuned newsletter over at the link is in the show notes. Thank you and bye