Do you have a hard time defining the vision behind your visionary idea —to customers, investors, or even to your mum? Is your elevator pitch standing a bit too awkwardly in the elevator?
Take a class with Wolff Olins’ lead strategist Melissa Andrada on how to use brand to nail your pitch.
This interactive session will equip you with the thinking and tools to take your brand to the next level. We’ll highlight key learnings directly from our clients and share tried-and-tested tools to help you build your own brand.
By the end of the class, you’ll be able to:
- create a compelling vision for your brand that brings in customers, attracts investors and inspires employees
- use your brand to drive impact across all parts of your business - from your Facebook page to your product offer to your office space
"I want to engage in a meaningful conversation with people that dislike ‘branding, and what it stands for."
Ben Brookbanks, one of the participants on our online branding course, recently posted this comment. It struck a cord with me.
I believe that brand can be a force for good. That it can be used as a tool to create value for society, not just shareholders. At the same time, I know that the world is full of brand skeptics (even inside my office). And I welcome the challenge.
In a company meeting, our London office managing director Ije Nwokorie told everyone to “connect with enemies and strangers, not just friends and family.” The world can often feel like an echo chamber – particularly now that almost everything digital can be filtered and personalised to our preferences.
But if we’re going to create better brands and businesses, we have to step outside of our comfort zones and surround ourselves with people who challenge our assumptions.
Real social progress happens through critical and meaningful conversation with those who think differently than us.
I recently listened to this brilliant TED NPR edit by Margaret Heffernan, former CEO of five businesses, on how good conflict is central to progress. In this talk, Margaret describes how a cancer researcher named Alice Stewart collaborated with a statistician named George Kneale whose job it was to prove her wrong. Because of their critical collaboration, Alice had the academic confidence to prove to the medical establishment that x-raying pregnant women led to higher rates of childhood cancers. For George and Alice, conflict meant thinking together for a better world.
Let’s use conflict for good. Let’s find our George Kneale equivalent. Let’s go beyond just talking to strangers on the bus or at the store, let’s be as open as possible and connect with people who think about the world and live completely different than us.
Melissa Andrada is a lead strategist passionate about creating businesses that inspire people, do good and make money.
If you’re starting out on a career in branding, or if you work in a related area – like strategy, marketing, innovation or organisational development – or even if you just have an interest in branding, then this course is for you. The course will reveal the secret powers behind brands - the most potent commercial and cultural force on the planet.
You’ll learn directly from practitioners at companies like Virgin and Google, and watch brand experts in action. You’ll get a rich mixture of powerful theory and practical tools. With branding changing so rapidly, you’ll get the very latest insights and methods from the converging worlds of technology, design and brand.
The course ends by setting up the next stage of your journey. We’ll be opening up the many topics in branding that still need research. And you’ll learn how to define your own personal brand, and plan the next steps in your life in branding.
We hope you enjoy it.
Robert Jones is head of new thinking at Wolff Olins and visiting professor at The University of East Anglia. Melissa Andrada is a lead strategist at Wolff Olins.
The need to evolve has led universities to use digital technology to re-think how education is delivered. We’re seeing a gold rush of universities racing to digitise their campuses to offer free online courses to the world.
However, quantity doesn’t equal quality. Few universities are making the most of this new medium. Most mass online open courses (MOOCs) consist of a ‘talking head’ in a front of white board. It’s no wonder completion rates are less than 10%.
Yet online education has the potential to be so much more. Technology enables us to create learning that encourages:
Learning shouldn’t just be about listening and watching, but also, doing and making. Education resources, like Codeacademy, start by throwing people into the content headfirst. With Codeacademy, you can begin coding right away without evening signing in or watching an instructional video.
Learning doesn’t have to be a dull chore. Organisations like TED set the bar high for video talks. Along with the RSA Animates, they’ve elevated the lecture to an art. They create highly curated visual stories that move both the mind and the heart. They inspire us to fall into a rabbit hole, going from video to video, hyperlink to hyperlink.
Learning shouldn’t stop when you’re 18 or 22. Education startups, like FutureLearn, are re-inventing learning for life. They will offer free online courses from top universities whenever and wherever you like. For FutureLearn, the classroom can be a lecture hall, a mobile phone, a museum, an airport. They are building an experience that welcomes everyone to learn, regardless of age, location or background.
My ambition is to put these principles into practice – to use technology to make learning sing. This summer Robert Jones, Head of New Thinking and professor at the University of East Anglia, and I will be co-creating a course on branding for FutureLearn. Our challenge and opportunity will not just be using the medium, but making the most of it.
Melissa Andrada is a lead strategist passionate about the intersection between brand, technology and social impact. In her spare time, she teaches entrepreneurs and startups how to build better businesses at General Assembly.@themelissard
What do these three popular figures have in common? All three are introverts – quiet leaders who have had a tremendous impact on the world.
A quiet leader sounds like an oxymoron. However, Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts, would argue that quiet leaders have always existed – and often are more effective than extroverted leaders.
Introverted leaders tend to be more reflective and considered. “Ghandi said his shyness stopped him from saying something stupid.” They listen more and lead by consensus. In work places where employees are more proactive, quiet leaders are often more successful in empowering people to take initiative and make ideas happen. This is especially important as more companies try to foster entrepreneurialism.
Cain’s work on quiet leadership has many takeaways whether you fall into the introvert, extrovert or ambivert camp. Two that stood out to me:
Rethink brainstorms. The loudest person in the room doesn’t always have the best ideas. Enable people to brainstorm in solitude first, then come together to share their ideas as a group.
Redesign your workspace. We’re encouraged to work in open floor plans, but the best thinking often happens alone. Design a flexible workspace that allow for periods of quiet contemplation.
This isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for extroverted leaders, but that we should recognise leadership takes many different forms.
Melissa Andrada is an ambivert and strategist passionate about creating businesses that inspire people, do good and make money.
You’re an entrepreneur. You’ve identified a gap in the market and come up with a product with huge potential for growth. The problem? You’re not the only one.
If everyone is trying to solve the same problem, then what’s going to make you stand out and be different? This is a tricky question for startups to answer, as you do not have the same history and heritage to draw from as the Nikes, GEs and Microsofts of the world. It’s a future-facing question that requires you to think about the principles that make your business special and unique.
Your principles should come out of your purpose – your reason for being. They should be equally inspiring and strategic. They should get you up in the morning, but also act as a guiding compass that drives decision-making. They should define your product experience, company culture, and communications.
Skillshare is a great example of a startup that has created set of principles that clearly define what makes them different. There are many wonderful startups that are trying to re-think education, from the Khan Academy to Coursera to the School of Life. What makes Skillshare different from its competitors is its commitment to principles that include “everyone is a teacher”, “teaching isn’t what you think it is”, and “learning by doing.”
Startups in other industries could learn from Skillshare’s example. I recently was on vacation in San Francisco where rideshare services are all the rage. Lyft. Uber. Hailo. Without googling them, I’m unclear on the differences between these businesses. I know that one has a pink moustache on its cars, but that’s the extent of my knowledge.
The issue of differentiation goes beyond transportation; it can also be applied to startups in crowdfunding (Indiegogo v. Kickstarter), ecommerce (Gilt v. Myhabit v. Rue La La), travel (Kayak v. Hipmunk). The list goes on.
You might be first to market, but defining what makes you special becomes especially important as your industry becomes more complex and competitive.
Where failure is the rule, not the exception, it’s important to start thinking about this question now rather than later.
Melissa Andrada is a strategist passionate about creating businesses that inspire people, do good, and make money. In her spare time, she teaches classes on branding for startups at General Assembly. @themelissard
What do you want to be doing when you turn 65? Live in South Florida? Move to a retirement village? Stay at your job?
For many people – including myself, retirement is a dated concept. We no longer follow the traditional path of graduate from uni, work at the same job for 40+ years, retire.
Getting and being old is a stigma. But it doesn’t have to be.
The Amazings is an education organisation that’s flipping the stigma on its head.
We recently had the privilege of having Adil Abrar, one of their co-founders, talk about the future of retirement and why we should treat old people better.
The Amazings believe that the over-50s are The Amazings. They empower them to teach and pass on their skills and knowledge with the community. The Amazings teach everything from gardening to public speaking to buying your first home.
Do you need to be physically located across several continents – like so many of the big corporations, banks and professional services firms?
Or is it enough to travel regularly all over the world, working with foreign organizations and getting to know their homeland?
Or could you argue that a dedication to diversity among the workforce is what counts, mixing up international perspectives even if you all sit in one place?
Here at Wolff Olins we’re a combination of all three: having hubs in the UK, USA and UAE, a client-base that is around 90% based outside our city locations, and a workforce comprised of well over 15 nationalities. But maintaining a global perspective is not a static purpose. We have to keep finding ways to experience different ways of life and work abroad, and bring those insights back into the business. With that in mind, this year the business committed to opening up more opportunities for us to spend time working overseas in one of our offices – London, New York, San Francisco or Dubai.
And so it is that, this summer, Melissa Andrada (a strategist from New York) and I (a strategist from London) swapped seats: me setting up residence in New York, her settling into life in London. It’s been a deep dip cultural experience for both of us. New country, new neighborhood, new friends, new home. On a purely gastronomic level, I’ve increased my bagel intake by 100% and Melissa has no doubt done lasting damage to her liver (cliches exist for a reason). 5 months in, we’re now ready to reflect on the similarities and differences between the two offices.
Many things are common to the Wolff Olins (WO) experience on either side of the Atlantic: the abundance of curious, opinion-forming people to be inspired by and enjoy working alongside; the emphasis on taking the initiative – WO is your platform, don’t wait to be asked; the enthusiasm for new ideas and for stretching our clients and ourselves to make bigger, better impact on the world.
We’ve also observed some differences. Here’s a snapshot of our insights so far - three key things we feel WONY and WOLO can learn from the other. (WONY is shorthand for Wolff Olins New York and WOLO for Wolff Olins London. Even brand agencies have their acronyms.)
THREE THINGS WOLO CAN LEARN FROM WONY
Wolff Olins New York
Look out and learn together
Every Thursday at 5pm there’s a WONY office-wide share from an external person/ company/ group. It’s a chance for everyone to sit together, eat, drink and learn something new. The scheduled nature of it makes it easy to slot into your week, and getting that regular dose of outside perspective is really refreshing.
New brains are better than one
The WONY office has a structured approach to interns – inviting a number of young, talented people to work alongside us every Summer and Fall. Getting their insights into culture as it’s emerging (simply watching ‘Girls’ does not qualify you as culturally on the pulse…sadly) and their enthusiasm into projects is a real asset to the work we produce; and the program provides a valuable chance for those assigned as their mentors to develop management and coaching skills.
Work the room
The WONY office is set up to function as a design studio - with big white blank canvases all around you, a newly set up ‘crit area’ where ongoing work is out for all to see, and an open layout that mixes skill sets successfully. It encourages you to get up and walk around, to use the tables in-between desk ‘pods’ to hold informal meetings, and to generally be more fluid about how you work.
THREE THINGS WONY CAN LEARN FROM WOLO:
Wolff Olins London
The Friday Pub can be just as important as the Office
Every Friday, at least 10 or so WOLO-ers venture off to the local pub for a round – or two – of pints and wine. It’s a lovely tradition that gives people the chance to bond and catch up with each other outside of the office. Many a conversation at the Thornhill have led to an important insight – an inspired collaboration.
Get the most out of your neighbors
With Robert Jones and Brian Boylan as your officemates, why wouldn’t you tap your neighbors for a bit of outside perspective on a pitch or a project? WOLO has the benefit of having “specialists” — Bethany Koby for social impact, Nathan Williams for tech, Karl Sadler for interaction design, and many more. At WOLO, there is a greater informal economy of thinkers offering offline insights and advice.
Start something up
From the Honey Club to Because talks to WO Entrepreneur, WOLO has a wealth of projects kickstarted and run by folks internally. It’s a great way to work with new people, stretch skills, test drive new ideas, start businesses and make an impact in the world – outside of client work. Internal projects allow everyone to be the CEO of something.
Amy Lee is a Senior Strategist at Wolff Olins New York, and Melissa Andrada is a Strategist at Wolff Olins London