An Influential Creative Agency Shares a Few Lessons in Branding 101.

Jim Bull co-founded Moving Brands right out of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (now the University of the Arts London) in 1998. What began as a small start-up has grown into a globally renowned creative agency that has offices in San Francisco, New York, London, and Zurich, and includes such innovative companies as Netflix, Apple, and Flipboard among their clientele.

Moving Brands has helped myriad businesses find their brand identities. “Take a hard look at the story of your business, not just your product,” says Bull. “Getting the brand right in terms of the story—if you do in the outset, you can save yourself a ton of time and set yourself in the market in a much considered way.” Moving Brands shared with The Venture the secrets of branding. As they reveal, branding requires a deeper level of thinking and the ability to tell and embody a company’s story.

What is branding?

Branding is not just a logo. Every single touchpoint and experience is an expression of the brand. It is the culmination of a business’s story, its identity system and the applications it creates. Brand is not just a value add to your business, it is your business.

What does a good branding strategy provide for a startup?

Even thinking about a good branding strategy is important for a startup, but it all starts with defining your brand and the story that you want tell to the world. A powerful brand expresses that core story across all of its various products and services in myriad ways that all feel consistent and cohesive. This is all very much by design. A smart startup will define that story early on and use it as a guide for everything from identity and product design to growing the business and making partnership decisions. A lot of startups know when an opportunity or an engagement feels right to their brand, but not many truly understand why (and how to use that understanding to their advantage).

When defining your brand, what are some key questions you must consider?

Who are we, why do we exist, what is our unique point of view, and why should anyone care? You’ll notice that none of these questions deal with what a brand does but instead focus on why and how they do it. That’s really important, because what you do or sell will inevitably change with market and consumer behaviors, but the why and the how should be true for any new venture or initiative that you undertake.

What are the most compelling ways to convey your story?

There are so many, and it totally depends on the brand. There are concrete touchpoints, such as your website, marketing materials and advertising. Film is an excellent and increasingly cost-effective medium. Ideally any time anyone is experiencing your brand, your story should be conveyed in a way that ensures that you own, control and capitalize on that experience.

What must you consider when coming up with a name and logo?

First, realize that they are both subjective. There is no right answer (but there are tons of wrong ones). Investing in your brand and defining the story grounds the endeavor in some objective (or at least agreed-upon) reality. Being able to justify why a name or logo feels right or wrong will go a long way to getting consensus and reaching a decision. Generally, a good name is memorable, ownable and explicable.

How important is it to integrate your brand and beliefs into your company’s culture?

Internal buy-in is paramount. If your people don’t believe it, love it and wear it on their sleeves with total confidence, they won’t represent the brand correctly or effectively externally. People are naturally afraid of change and adopting anything new, but rest assured, when it’s done right, branding is an expression of collective vision. A good brand is the red thread that runs between why a founder started a company in the first place and why a prospective employee wants to join today.


[The Venture]