A Product Designer's Perspective on Branding

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Theo Williams is a creative whose superpower is to provoke new ways of thinking so retailers and brands can better realise their goals. He has held many influential designs and creative roles for the likes of Habitat, John Lewis Home and others.

Show Notes

Theo Williams is a creative whose superpower is to provoke new ways of thinking so retailers and brands can better realise their goals. He has held many influential designs and creative roles for the likes of Habitat, John Lewis Home and others.

  • After studying industrial design at Manchester University, he went to Milan in 1991 and stayed for 15 years
  •  Has designed packaging for Armani. products for Alessi, cardio fitness equipment for Technogym all the way up to designing brands for John Lewis
  •  He uses the five principles that are built into a product when designing the brand of the company selling the product
  • Currently, his typical project for a client is large and encompasses product design, packaging design and brand design including logo, name and messaging
  •  He particularly admires Whole Foods and Apple for their consistent coordination and sticking to their fundamental principles.
  • Theo can be contacted through theowilliams.com

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Shireen: Hello and welcome to Brand Tuned, successful brands successful business, the show for entrepreneurs and brand creators, where we discussed personal and business Brands to give you ideas and inspiration for your own brand. I'm Shireen Smith, lawyer, entrepreneur, author, and advocate for developing purpose based brands to change.

Theo Williams is a designer and creative director whose career has included being head of design at John Lewis home via his role at Habitat which followed on from Sir Terence Conran. And Tom Dixon, he describes his superpower as one of provoking new and better ways of thinking, so retailers and brands can better realize their goals. But let's hear from Taylor himself. Tell us a bit more about your background and how you moved into design. And welcome to the show.

Theo: Thank you, Shireen Thank you very much for having me. My background, I mean, essentially, I'm an industrial designer, I went to art college, I followed the normal normal degrees and foundation courses and took a course in Manchester industrial design, which I then changed to art and then I switched back to graphic design and switch back to industrial design through a series of just series of events. So essentially, I call myself just a creative really, I studied in Manchester but I, I was in Manchester one day, and I discovered that probably what David teaching me an industrial design was everything I didn't want to know all the process at least I saw a Phillips Stark lemon squeezer in a shop one day by Alessi, late 80s 8990. And it was everything the opposite of what I was being taught. And it was crazy, too expensive, didn't work, but it looked lovely. So I decided to go there. And that was based in Milan and because there's no Google in those days, so I would scroll through the library and Manchester eventually got to play and I went to Milan in 1991. I think I was 23. And I ended up staying there for 15 years. I basically carried my portfolio around this huge, great thing. And I went knocking on all the doors in alphabetical order of all the architects and designers that I've ever read about from Castiglioni to Interbrand, Z to salt SAS markers, and also an Albert ubitx And everybody else. I ended up working for a few architects, I basically grew into a little shared studio. And I continued from there and I ended up with probably 12 people in a studio at one point, and then I was picked up and transported to Amsterdam for a job I couldn't turn down to overcome company called Max in Amsterdam, whilst keeping the studio live in Milan, and after a period of three years in Amsterdam, as I was moving back to Milan, I got a call from habitat to become creative director for them, which I did for five years based in London, obviously and then John Lewis had been chasing me for a couple of years and when habitat folded or eventually i The IKEA Group sold them on I jumped ship to IKEA for sorry jumped ship to John Lewis's creative head for home for three years. And then after leaving there pretty much set up on my own for a couple years and then another job came around Kingfisher group, that PLC went b&q, the likes of screwfix customer arm of Rico depo third biggest retailer in the world from the DIY department, they took me on board for three years, which I finished last October as design director, essentially building up their internal studios around the world to design own product design and rebrand their new own brand. Product assortment. So essentially, that's what I do. I design things from packaging for Amani to fund a gamma of design products for less See, I've designed all the cardio fitness equipment for Technogym all the way up to designing brands for John Lewis. And so essentially, I call myself a creative and I've moved in a direction that I've wanted to see the product side design, packaged and sold and marketed, picked and displayed in the same tone of voice that I designed them in. So I've kind of crept into this branding over all the years. And that's where I find myself mannered kind of doing everything from the product all the way up to the visual identity.

Shireen: Oh, I see. So, essentially, you've been involved both as an employee and in your own businesses throughout your life so it's not like you were an employee and then moved away into.

Theo: I think that's one of my, one of my big one of the benefits is that I've seen both sides, I've seen what big budget clients are like from both sides of the table. And when I'm working in full time, I've also handed out these types of jobs to freelancers on the studios, as well as being the receiver of those lines. So that's been definitely beneficial being in and out, both ends.

Shireen: So you were branding these designs that you came up with, what did that involve? Generally? 

Theo: Well, a good example of a company Lexol. In Paris, they have initially, we got together back in the sort of 95, to the end of 2000, around there and initially to design products for them. But then, of course, I'd start questioning the packaging, the displays the logo, the communication, the catalog, and that was my first big creative job where I oversaw everything for about four years, which touched that brand, including rewriting their mission statements, what they stand for their values, etc. So I kind of moved a generally in that direction, where I could see the longer term vision for a brand rather than just focusing on the product. And it occurred to me that the product is one of many elements to towards a successful brand. The product tells some story. And the brand can tell a story as well. Product is king, in the end, it is what sells is what people buy is what transmits that tangible asset of the brand. Because obviously Quality Function price etc. animates emanates a lot more than perhaps a lot of brand messages do. And you do around a lot at the moment, there's a lot of smoke and mirrors and wording in marketing. And actually the product is isn't always stand up for that. So the trust element, it came through quite strongly and quite transparently that what I would build in the five principles that you've built into a product had to come through with the same message as well as packaging, sustainability, cost, function solution, etc. So that was also those five principles stay with me on branding as much as the product itself.

Shireen: So you've actually also worked at it here. So that's totally different, isn't it designing for a business like that?

Theo: I was hired and then I worked for IKEA was after I left John Lewis, I worked for a kid for two or three years as a freelancer from the studio in London. And that process was, was fascinating, because they almost retrofit the design, you might they give you a brief, you have certain parameters a time and budget, etc. They have a lot of research, they know exactly what they want to do. But they're not always sure how they're gonna do that. And so the design is quite creative at the beginning. But as soon as you reach a certain point of the design, then you kind of retrofit that design into how many how much does it weigh? How large are the containers? How much is it going to cost to ship it? Can we fit, you know, X amount on a pallet that goes in a container, 40 foot container, etc, etc. There's all the other elements that come into the logistics about your design. And it's not just about the design, but that that was fascinating, the IKEA model, they work on 1000s of different products, only a very small percentage go through, they've actually got quite a small product range, I think it's only about 4000 products, including various differences between each product. But what they do do is they do it very well, I think actually, if any company is leading at the moment is certainly IKEA in that, in that sphere, the amount of investment on r&d, and especially their factories and setups that I've seen across the world is quite phenomenal, including the villages that are close by to the factories. And that kind of whole process about designing something for them involves a huge community. It's not just about the designer, which for want of a better word, I suppose the Italian companies over all the years I was there, it's very much about the design of first hierarchy of names, big bold image of the Designer Plus their name, then the product, but very little around the sustainability of the story or the knock on effects that product would have when you introduce it. So things have changed a lot in the branding and the company worlds. And in that sense, they're much more transparent. And you can quite clearly see that the messages that they're projecting is a lot about the benefits of a product rather than perhaps the status of the designer.

Shireen: You Yeah, so you've had quite a varied background. What type of business is your ideal client now? 

Theo: But separately right now, the type of client I have, again, I'm working from, from a company in South Korea all the way over to the states and a few in between. And all four of them approached me for product direction, essentially. So a creative director And based mainly about the product, and about sourcing, designing, manufacturing, etc. But they slowly all spins off from that product selection or direction, into the branding, visual identity etc. So initially, they often have an idea of what they would like their brand, or their new brand, or their startup brand or an in house brand within a big retailer, they have an idea of what they would like. But as they're very aware, as I am in the retail world, that from Crate and Barrel to John Lewis, for example, if I'm going to design a new range within that, and I couldn't incorporate a brand on it as well, it has to start with product, because they will fundamentally they have their brand, their overarching brand already. So it has to sit within amongst a lot of other brands. And typically, we start with brand with product development, and the look and feel and then grow into how that identity would fit around those types of products. So for example, the goal might be from one of these retailers that they want a pure, sustainable, pure, recycled, pure, sustainable brand. And we might, obviously we start man, if we start looking at manufacturers and materials and technology first, before we even start designing, then we look at the type of substrates or the products that can fit and be manufactured with this which are completely sustainable right from scratch, including acid free packaging, no glue, etc. right the way up, how it's delivered, and warehouse, and then we grow into the product. And then obviously, eventually, you have to communicate that when cluding a name and logo, the packaging, etc. So all unfolds. And that's the sort of typical client I have at the moment. And then big projects, I have very large teams, but they're all actually my team is only three in the studio. But we have externals and that's one thing I've learned very quickly in the last five years, the last thing I think you need these days is a studio with 50 people in it, you really need to go and identify the right resource with the right skill set to help you execute that, because some of the clients I have might not be my taste, it might not be exactly what I would do. But you you know, obviously you listen to the client, and you understand what their needs are and their customer needs. And you adapt it to that. So that's another big change. It's not just about Theo and his personality, I'm there also to facilitate what my skill set is by using other skill sets to fit what the client needs.

Shireen: Right? So how do you go about gathering a team together who can say do the copywriting naming and all that?

Theo: Well, first of all, Arthur boster of people for over the years. But the main, the main starting point is listening to the client. It's always quite intense meetings where we have an agenda, what we really dig deep into what the personality of the owners are, the personalities of the people who are going to execute it, basically the in house team aligned with what the big goal of the of the retailer is. But then of course, they're not all part of retailers. Some of them are startups with personal people who just got a great idea, but digging into what their personality is, is the fundamental key there. And sometimes it's almost like a therapy session, you really have to push some buttons, because it's not about what we're going to do is I think it's quite a famous saying I forget the guy on YouTube is pops up everywhere. Now, of course shake or something. And he often says it's got no, it has nothing to do with what you're going to do. It's why you're doing it and asking people, why are they doing it is not so easy to answer. That's the crux of their understanding of why you're going to do it, how you're going to do it, and then what you're going to do.

Shireen: And how does that impact what you do visually?

Theo: This is yeah, this is interesting question because me personally, when I absorb all this information from clients, I'm already imagining I'm already knitting together the future and I often jump five years ahead, and I come back for three to one to the priority now but often painted pictures too, which goes way over exactly what their goal was their initial goal. But it's research obviously is key. Taking all the key words from the client and their needs, and especially what their customer needs are, you end up painting a story and storytelling is a lot what we do these days. The simplicity of that is so hard to find because we often lose focus, when I'm talking to a lot of the clients that what their core USP is or what their most important product is their most important service and what's really going to be focused on and known for and I remember some years ago, I was in art directors dinner and the guy was talking about certain restaurants and, and TP I think it was and sitting there and I only and I put my hand up, I thought, well, everyone knows what an MTP is. And he said to me, where do you work? I said, John Lewis? And he said, but what do you do what you do when you want to buy some curtains, you either phone, your mum, or you go to John Lewis, and he was talking about your most trusted person. And he was talking about how brands should be that and, and often with the startups, and often, often they lose focus on what that actual core core product is, or service, and that that's what you got to flush out and why did they do it. And as soon as you get anywhere near that, and you understand it, you start to paint pictures in your mind. And instinctively, you're starting to think colors, card paper, of a tone of voice, what the do's are, but certainly you make a huge list what the don'ts are and what not to do. So it is a bit of a therapy session at the beginning. And as soon as you get anywhere near that point of understanding of what the core focus should be, then it becomes much easier to pay the future.

Shireen: Right? So how do you make sure that they're going to really stand out among the competitors and be seen in a different way?

Theo: Well, there's a couple of methods, I suppose the the, you know, the marketing people, which spends on the client side, but they're the bane of my life. I mean, they're telling you everything that is what it is today, and not what it's like in the future. So you constantly the battles with marketing and budgets, and, and, you know, the whole country has been on discount for the last 10 years, you know, 20% or 50% of the messaging and the marketing has got, I got a hand. And often my biggest battle is, is with marketing people. And so the vision that I tried to put in place, again, is going three or five years ahead, and then pulling that back and trying to get the core fundamentals of the product and the tone around it. Because people basically only have about three seconds, it's that first impression. The second you look at something, you generally appraise people from their, from home for their clothes, you're visually then you go to all the different sensors etc. And you do make, summarize whether or not you like what you're looking at, but generally take three seconds when you look at a bus advert or you pick up a product. And those values, ultimately in a product in its service indigenous one thing, but in a product industry is that tangible product has to stand up for all those values. And, and I think, to communicate that it has to be very transparent these days, I don't think marketing bumped to for the price of one, and so on and so on. And so she some of my clients works anymore. I think people are very, very aware of what they're buying, they're very aware about value as price versus quality. They understand those three steps about what they're having, and I don't think they believe in the brands anymore. I think it's very clear on some of the projects I'm working on that they would rather believe in John down in Swansea and read his review, not what the brand is telling and definite mixed message. They're very much in Kingfisher, but making millions of pieces and being Q and so on. All the research but clearly showed that the less we said as a brand, and the message wise about how great we are, the more we focused on the benefits of the product, the more it fed into consumer reviews, and that's what drove sales, not what the brand was saying. So again, it came back to the product. So I think material technology quality price function, all these elements come into it and that's the key thing these days and quieting down perhaps the marketing message now I say that quite easily. If you join me an hour and a half ago you'd have heard me fighting for my life with the marketing people and budgets etc that they want the logo bigger and the discount sign bigger and so on and yes, you do need a compromise but I think you know, this is intangible message it has to be has to be human has to be empathetic, it has to be friendly and it has to be it has to give you the benefit that you are and you do understand the consumer does know and they do it's not like some years ago

Shireen: Yeah, so you're talking with marketing then about how to advertise it.

Theo: Yeah, very much so So this morning we were discussing about the imagery and about whether or not we use consumers in the imagery, otherwise all we use a company The product in the image in the imagery always mix the two together. For a PPE company that we're working on at the moment is is quite obvious that the consumer needs a quick hit those three seconds and perhaps that the hand sanitizer bottle needs to be the primary thing that they see perhaps somebody wiping their hands with the hand sanitizer, it's a different message. Or if there's somebody staring at them with a quote telling them that they need this, it's another and I often with this kind of product, it's not because it's not a functional product, in the sense it's for your home, it's quite a personal product is quite a dilemma to decide. And we haven't decided yet, which is the right message to give. I actually personally think that a close up of the product with the hands might be better than actually lifestyle image with everybody sitting in the front room, being very content and happy because they bought this hand sanitizer, which is the sort of imagery you can buy off stock photography, and again, the marketing guys are very much focused on perhaps what their customers look like and their demographic and where they are. And they lifestyle image. Well, okay. I was bit the other way I was more about actually what this product can do for you.

Shireen: Yeah, well, that's really interesting. And how do you actually how much freedom do you have to decide on the design?

Theo: I depends on the client. Insights career is huge company, they're not part of the Samsung Group. And, and they've given me completely free rein. And again, it does depend on the client, but they want to tap into a market and a message and a product that they do not do. And so having my background from John Lewis and habitat especially, they will sign over everything. And they will believe in everything and follow exactly what you'd say to do amongst bringing in several externals as well to back that up. Research is a huge one for companies like that. So you need this foundation, need numbers and figures, commercial research agencies that find out what's going on the market, what's not going on the market to back all this up. And then on the other hand, I've got a client in Portugal that I'm working on, and I get very little room for movement, really, I'm just executing pretty much what they've done before, which they didn't do very well, but they want to undo and redo. So when you come to those types of rebranding, instead of starting from a fresh, you tend to have less, less, less movement, but But you know, I, I've got a mixed bag of skills, and commercially and creatively and what they, you know, what gets me the job, often it's what loses me the job or the passion. Sometimes I can do too much. But that's why they employ me because they get a wide spectrum of, you know, the scope, creative input, I'm not a big agency, and I don't I haven't got an agenda to pay 40 people in a studio, we'll bring those in as and when they need. So I personally tend to get quite a bit of freedom. And then once we edit it down and find sometimes compromise, or we find what we both like

Shireen: I was reading Byron sharp, have you read his book, how brands grow? It's sort of based on evidence, evidence based marketing, where they look at the brands and they would explaining how Tropicana lost sales because they rebranded and they wanted to look more premium, and got rid of the orange from the box. And as a result, they were losing sales. So his view is that you have to be very careful what how you rebrand to answer, you know, to preserve the assets that are actually working for your business.

Theo: I we started several projects that John Lewis on a monoid can particularly on record, so put all the detail about it, but you would have seen that they've rebranded recently, I think it was 18 months ago. But again, I find that totally unnecessary. I think sometimes when retailers or brands feel that they are not their turnover is slowing down or perhaps not as fresh as they need to be. They often look at rebrand and it's not the case. In fact, it can be detrimental as well. People do get very used to you know, I mean, if anybody didn't need a rebrand I would argue and they probably would tell me that I'm wrong on this but what if anyone didn't need to rebrand it was John Lewis because their brand is based on trust. I'm not sure it's about the direction of the stripe of their logo. I don't know. I think I remember actually just something came to mind. When I was studying at college, I remember reading about Chanel or Dior launching a new perfume. And they were selling very, very well. But they were selling to the wrong type of customer like, you know, the scale, I think a customer C or D, lower. Now, you would think that was great. This was probably 20 years ago. But they redid the campaign using a Salvador Dali painting dripping over the bottle, the sales went down less than half, but they were selling back to the a's and b's. And they preferred that. So I can tend to agree with him. I haven't read the book. But I should read more books, I do make notes and kind of get to read these books. But I think when you execute when you're doing it every day, I will take that I just made a note of the book, but it's quite dangerous, just just a rebrand, when you think that it will make that big a difference. And I swear to God, it's comes back to the product king in the end. And the five kind of principles form Funch.

Shireen: We'll take a short break is, as I'd like to mention the Brand Tuned series of webinars, which support founders to think through their brand, taking IP into account at the right time, which is good for you make firm decisions about what to create. Just visit brand tuned.com. And the webinars are referenced right there on the homepage. Okay, back to the pod.

So when when I see a design, like you're mentioning John Lewis, you know, is it just a matter of somebody's preference as to whose design they like best? Or is there actually something intrinsically better about one design than another?

Theo: I love that question. I wish it is that question in a room full of creative directors, my God? I shouldn't say yes. But I think it is, I think there is definitely a knack to this. And there's an experience that comes with it. And you know, I'm not most articulate and so on. I'm not a brown guy who read the books and all these kinds of things. But I think it does, I think it really does come down to apprenticeships. And I think I think you know, when I looked back at the house brand that we developed at John Lewis was huge success after I left, they wanted a habitat look and feel for a different type of audience. You know, they picked on the right person, they it does come down to who they give the give the you know, who they delegate the job to that, that that their type of personality. And I would spend first three months at John Lewis writing, drawing and Googling and just put into the books and books and books of images and things and then I just have a gut instinct for it. And if it does come down to that personality of that person or agency that you choose, when you're starting completely afresh and you give them that authority, it's very different if as if you've got parameters about customer needs and so on, like we mentioned earlier, that when they need to just invent something for a completely new audience. It does come down to the personality of the team that you employ. And then of course you know, John Lewis we would call in copywriters and I would just stand up and talk for an hour and then they would come up with a strap lines picking out on key words we would go to pentagram a very big agency is super good agency again, Harry Pierce was the guy who did the logo for us and talking talking we get to know each other and then suddenly trust he would understand this urgency or this is passionate about the product and the house backs King and then the logo shouldn't be too overbearing or the name and therefore from a distance you can spot the circle with the origin and the silhouette of the product and he Yeah, it is quite instinctive. And on the other hand, you know I've contradicted myself a bit I suppose because there is a science to it as well but it this multinational I'm working on at the moment for the PPE is this instinctive I made the presentation today the graphics the look and feel it's it's it's tailored to what they need for that kind of b2b customers. But you can see my personality in it you can see what I believe that design should be like especially on the communication the graphics and simple and spot colors and so on. It's not over the top so I I should have attraction put up a bigger argument for the whole industry, but I do think a lot of instinct in that. You know, and, and that instinct comes from good creative directors know who to use that you know, when you need an illustration Since of illustrators, and photographers, I go through hundreds of portfolios, and suddenly I just see it and that's it, she uses natural light, she's got deep focus, you know, depth of field, whatever it might be, you suddenly recognize it. And it's how to knit those things together that creates a great brand. So is driven by instinct as much as it is logically.

Shireen: Interesting. So Which brand do you particularly admire for their design, and why?

Theo: Well that I had my eye, I see lots and lots of brands, I can't really think of one in particular, but what I do really appreciate and I stand back and look at is the consistency of brands and the coordination that they have, and how flexible they are, you know, I see, you know, you go to Whole Foods, or you go to the Apple shop, you go to big department stores, etc. And what I'd love as this consistent coordination, but it's very flexible. So I'd see how they come out with seasonal things, or new product ranges, etc. But the fundamentals of the brand are always there. And I've struggled to come up with names really, I because there are a lot out there. And you know, if we even look at Apple, for example, it's so easy just to say apple, but to be honest, they don't do much they got beautifully consistent and coordinated, but it's not hugely flexible, like you might have thought some years ago as far as their advertising and you know, the promotion so on but if they stick to their fundamental principles constantly and I'm that's what I like about particular brands, when they are coordinating, they're consistent in their message. But there's, there's hundreds, and I have to have a think about it and send you in.

Shireen: Yeah. So by consistent you mean consistent messaging, rather than, you know, using the brand elements in a consistent way, like their logo and tagline.

Theo: The consistent in that sense that you can I can spot it, obviously, that creative has been behind, you can see quite easily when a marketing person has been behind. And so it is about the consistency of their templates, the logos, their grids, etc, the way the page works, and so on. But it's also about the consensus, consistent, not just the brand message, but also about the product or the service they provide. Because that logic and magic needs to combine and you can't just have it in just logic and you can't just have magic, some accents, it's that consistent is that mix but with the consistency of the brand, always there and that can just be simply LoJack logo, tone of voice message, color, imagery, etc. But you see so many brands out there at the moment, especially a lot of startups it's not it's not a cheap thing to start up everything scratch and you know some of the graphics extremely simple and I think very beautiful because photography is expensive web pages are expensive to build, there are assets that you need to communicate the brand, whether it's video prints, books, brochures, web etc. That often come before you start selling and you do see a lot of startups are extremely simple learning loop nikkormat The cosmetic world at the moment with pure new creams and so on. Very simple beautiful and I often wonder because really their focus just on their product and the graphics are just sat in place on top of the purity of their product and they've not tried to sell it to me and and it's sometimes it's quite a vulgar way I think. I often see adverts and think it's unbelievable you know they kind of fishy American adverts To be honest, I've been looking at a lot of those recently about the PPE and they their whole approach you know so through some of the research is to scare you to death if you Christ if you don't buy this you're you're a goner. They're not telling me the gloves have been dipped in alcohol. They're showing me a guy touching something and rubbing his nose and the advert comes up with a big Coronavirus, green and red thing saying you're done for panic buying No it didn't show me about they point out the wastage of disposable masks and showing a turtle in the sea. But they don't know anything about their sustainability. But they point out where everybody else is going on. And it's the kind of you know, so I could tell you a lot what I don't like.

Shireen: Most so the brand has to live basically by by its ideals and not and consistently throughout all the messaging and ads and everything.

Theo: This lots from especially from UK ones, furniture makers and so on and that they they that it does it and it does come down to that probably even after five or 10 years it will come back to what you did in your first couple of months. And most principles because if you paired it all Way back and you have one product or service started you off, it will always come around full circle to that. And whether or not you base that on price, the quality of the material, the product itself, or the service you provide, it might come down to just trust. And to be honest, these days that can disappear in a second, through reviews and consumers got huge power at the moment. I think retailers are very worried about it. You can't bluff these people and you can't bless them. Like you used to be able to write down from Primark to John Lewis to the higher end brands, the prices of things, I mean, you know, I've been briefed recently to try and see if I could sort out a range of furniture for a retailer and this sub brand that they've got. And you know, when you look at what's happened the last three months with the pandemic, you think I got it, we really need another side table. It's like I, I'm struggling, I'm really got back on it, because there are some priorities there. And I think my advice to a lot of these guys that have contacted me, especially on the product side would be to look at the ranges and the methods of the sustainability, the logistics, the glues, all the bits behind it. I mean, working at Kingfisher, I mean, you know, the sustainability is not a recycle symbol on a craft box in Whole Foods, it's just changing the size of the packaging, and reducing the scale of a product to fit in a certain way, a bit like the IKEA model, that we we redesigned some products to calculator that was 30 Less trucks a week on the streets. Because you're moving air around as much as you are anything else. You know, when I'm working with IKEA, that absolute genius, I take my hat off to them for that. And they base a lot of their principles and the brand on those types of actions, not just the marketing message they really live and breathe it to answer your question is why I admire brands when they really do live and breathe it and a lot of customers would never see that. Behind the scenes, I think slowly the big successful ones they do. And smaller ones much more than they used to as well. I mean, this whole designer maker at the moment, and the middle ground has been almost disappeared. That's the high end and, and the middle ground is gone down to the more spread out more. And there's more startups, there's more individuals, obviously, you can get web page to go direct to customer, they don't have to go through other retailers or wholesale these trade shows approximate search may be a thing of the past. And getting that visibility is one of the key things and I we have people who are experts on SEO and internet's, you know, word in Google Instagram and this social media platform, and I don't like it completely my God, you need to do that really well. Because the visibility you get is enormous. And if you can back it up with a trust, and you're the first impression about brand is is are your values including what the product is, I think people can succeed very well these days and people will come back and word of mouth is so important.

Shireen: Yeah, so what I've taken away also from this Byron sharps book is that you need to be top of mind available, you know, present for people to buy you wherever they are looking, and, you know, uniquely yourself so you need to be very distinct and recognizable.

Theo: Yeah, you do and, and fundamental principles, you know, between architects, designers and fashion people, when it comes back down to the graphic designer does have a big role in that need shelf life, you do need visibility on the shelf in the window, you do only get these three seconds to communicate it logos or clear loud spot colors. You do have to fight for your space. And you know that brave brands out there that are not so risk can take that risk and they can perhaps project something completely new but it's not always so successful at the beginning. And sometimes if you go and challenge your competitors graphically which you see a lot you lots of similarities. But when you look at this p p at the moment we're working on it's nigh on impossible to get away from blue or green as a communication tool because it's quite clinical, the color and NA and so on. You know that scared stiff this multinational when we're looking at the scale between clinical and cosmetic. And you know that barometer you call it that scale goes forth you have to align it to get your shelf visibility in your message over graphically not any not better value, but just simply to get the attention of some and the guys in Portugal fantastic Taking the lead and being very brave what we've done, the multinational Of course, believes, you know, bigger, louder, better. Bullying with huge marketing budgets, which, yeah, they win. In the end, a lot of these, you know, I've worked with a big drinks company recently and make soft drink and, but they're not quite as good as their competitors competitor, I can't say who it is. But they throw billions on the word design. But it's all based about marketing and endorsement by celebrities and so on. And, you know, it is successful that model, but I, I think, I think we'll see a bit less and less of that, because the pyramid at the moment is getting very wide and thick and very good quality. Startups and brands at the bottom are run by small individual small companies, they're not all right at the top anymore. And certainly in the middle, whereas the retailers, I would argue, like John Lewis, and so on, I think the bigger retailers have going to have a bit of a problem, they're gonna get squeezed, because fundamentally, they only sell everybody else's stuff, they have a percentage of their own brand. But sooner or later, they're going to have to go out and wholesale their own products to others. Because selling other plays a price or otherwise, you know, never do you really these days on the internet and you are, you are going to be driven by price for sure, depending on what the product is. But the the smaller brands which are becoming bigger and bigger at the bottom of the pyramid, they've got this quality you can return to and this is trust, it's a bit more personal, it's a bit more thetic it's not just in your face selling and you feel their stories behind it. You know, you've got a guy, Danny Cornwall, with a leis making his candles or whatever he's doing. You know, there's tons of little stories popping up all over the place, which is lovely.

Shireen: Great. Well, thank you very much for appearing on the show. How can people find you in the show notes?

Theo: We could do it through my Thea williams.com is still under construction for years, but it's still no it's got stuff on it, but it's not supposed to be that well. Anyway. The williams.com would be great.

Shireen: Okay, thanks very much indeed. Okay, thank you for listening to this episode of Brand Tuned, where we aim to answer the question, what does it take to create a successful business and brand? I'd love it. If you would take a moment to give me a review. If you have any questions, send me a message. You can find me on LinkedIn, or most other social media platforms, or on my personal website, shireensmith.com.