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Brand Shepherd

Brand Shepherd

By Brand Shepherd
This product-focused podcast will explore the various approaches, best practices, expertise, and experts for products. Guided and brought to you by Brand Shepherd, we are a product-focused, cross-category creative agency, developing products that come to life through diligent process and design. This podcast is hosted by Brand Shepherd co-owner/creative director, Dan Crask.
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Legal Guidance For Starting A New Brand with Attorney Derrick Davis • The Brand Shepherd Podcast
Attorney Derrick Davis is our guest on this episode of the Brand Shepherd podcast.  TOPIC: COVID-19 will spur a lot of new entrepreneurs, new businesses. Legal Guidance For Starting A New Brand. New businesses will need to develop a brand for themselves, which we have covered in the 5 Ingredients podcast. New businesses will also need legal guidance as they start or expand. We will talk about what that looks like. STARTING OUT: navigating legalities of getting started Type of business (LLC, Sole Prop, etc.). Naming for a new business or brand extension. Protect the IP. Mystery Solved: TM or © ®?! When to do what. GROWTH: businesses/brand that is using this time to work ON their brands/businesses Naming the brand extension(s) — what’s taken, when to accept risk. MITIGATE RISK & TROUBLE Every business takes on risk — what are some common risks a new business or new brand growth will want to be cautious about? Trouble: what value does someone like you bring to the table when a cease and desist letter arrives, or some other kind of trouble? Trouble: similarly, what if another new business steals your IP? HOW TO REACH DERRICK dmdavis@qcflaw.com | 865-524-1873
38:05
April 28, 2020
Ingredient #5: The Chef • The 5 Key Ingredients To Creating An Exceptional Product Brand • by Brand Shepherd
SEASON 2 of the Brand Shepherd Podcast:  The 5 Key Ingredients To Creating An Exceptional Product Brand by Dan Crask, Creative Director & Co-Owner, Brand Shepherd Brand development is an exercise of examining what the brand is and is not, and then codifying the discoveries in a way that the brand owner(s) and stakeholder(s) can easily leverage to grow the brand. Here are what I know to be the second of the 5 key ingredients for building a brand: -- INGREDIENT 5: The Chef These 4 ingredients we have covered so far are vital to brand development, but there is a 5th ingredient that needs to be mentioned as well:  A chef (aka, guide, shepherd) to help work through the process of brand development. That would be us, Brand Shepherd. Having a chef to guide brand development is obviously important from an expertise level. Brand and business stakeholders use experts for anything, from HVAC service to CPAs to facility maintenance and, yes, brand development. Yet a guide is also important because having a mind from outside the brand will give the development process the perspective it needs to be successful. Read the accompanying post to this episode on our website here »  -- Questions & Feedback? Contact Brand Shepherd Today: brandshepherd.com
21:41
April 23, 2020
Ingredient #4: The Brand's "Why?" • The 5 Key Ingredients To Creating An Exceptional Product Brand • by Brand Shepherd
SEASON 2 of the Brand Shepherd Podcast:  The 5 Key Ingredients To Creating An Exceptional Product Brand by Dan Crask, Creative Director & Co-Owner, Brand Shepherd Brand development is an exercise of examining what the brand is and is not, and then codifying the discoveries in a way that the brand owner(s) and stakeholder(s) can easily leverage to grow the brand. Here are what I know to be the second of the 5 key ingredients for building a brand: -- EPISODE 4: The Brand "Why?" Over the last decade, Simon Sinek's "Start with 'Why?'" TEDx talk has created a mandate for brands to know Why they exist and then communicate it to customers at every level. Tall task, right? Well, no. In this episode, we will give the "Why?" question its due respect, but also demystifying it. As always, a simple how-to is also included so you can put this information to work for your brand today. Read the accompanying post to this episode on our website here »  -- Questions & Feedback? Contact Brand Shepherd Today: brandshepherd.com
11:56
March 27, 2020
Ingredient #3: The Brand Identity • The 5 Key Ingredients To Creating An Exceptional Product Brand • by Brand Shepherd
SEASON 2 of the Brand Shepherd Podcast:  The 5 Key Ingredients To Creating An Exceptional Product Brand by Dan Crask, Creative Director & Co-Owner, Brand Shepherd Brand development is an exercise of examining what the brand is and is not, and then codifying the discoveries in a way that the brand owner(s) and stakeholder(s) can easily leverage to grow the brand. Here are what I know to be the second of the 5 key ingredients for building a brand: -- EPISODE 3: The Brand Identity The brand identity is made up of a mix of vital elements that customers identify with your brand. These proprietary elements are each important, and collectively (Gestalt Theory, anyone?), they make up your entire brand identity. Read the accompanying post to this episode on our website here »  -- Questions & Feedback? Contact Brand Shepherd Today: brandshepherd.com
22:59
March 20, 2020
Ingredient #2: Customer Personas • The 5 Key Ingredients To Creating An Exceptional Product Brand • by Brand Shepherd
SEASON 2 of the Brand Shepherd Podcast:  The 5 Key Ingredients To Creating An Exceptional Product Brand EPISODE 2: Customer Personas by Dan Crask, Creative Director & Co-Owner, Brand Shepherd Brand development is an exercise of examining what the brand is and is not, and then codifying the discoveries in a way that the brand owner(s) and stakeholder(s) can easily leverage to grow the brand. Here are what I know to be the second of the 5 key ingredients for building a brand: Part 2: The Brand's Customer Personas Equally important to the brand's voice is the customer persona the brand is talking to. Brands that lack focus are not successful brands. You need to know who you are talking to, what their buying habits are, lifestyle choices, etc. The brand voice will be compelling and even familiar when it speaks the sub-cultural language of its customers. So, What Are Customer Personas Mix demographics and habits together, and we get a customer persona. The persona is an average, an ideal person that would love to buy from the brand. The customer persona has all the demographic and habitual data that makes our brand’s offering attractive and needed. It’s always best that a customer persona is written out, and documented as part of any brand guidance resources. Just as the visual parts of the brand have guidelines, so should the brand’s ideal customer(s) be documented in quick, brief write-ups of what the customer persona is made up of. An example might look like this: Jack Doe is a blue-collar man, aged between 32-45 years old, who drives a pickup truck, loves to hunt, and is fiercely patriotic. As part of Jack’s daily rituals, he loves a good meaty meal. He will prefer a steak, brisket, pulled pork, or a hamburger over a salad any day of the week. Jack’s living spaces are populated with products that use simple visual branding – he doesn’t go for loud, clever, or modern/minimalist design. He likes bold, earthy simple colors and is proud to display logos that align with his values. A good example is the sport of basketball. I sometimes love watching and listening to basketball because I have no idea what the announcers and advertisers are talking about. It's a sport full of language and assumptions that make absolutely no sense to me. Yet it makes a lot of sense to its fans, and those fans become customers. Customer personas will help identity the age, location, lifestyle, buying habits, values, and more of the people who we want to become loyal to the brand. [FTR: I came of age in the greater Chicagoland area watching Jordan win 6 rings with Da Bulls. Today's basketball product is a vastly inferior product compared to yesteryear; once I've had steak, it's hard to chew on cheap ground chuck.] In the next segment, I'll cover Part 3: The Brand's "Why", where I will tackle the big question of "Why does our brand and products exist?," which has become entirely more complicated than it needs to be. In Part 3, I will simplify it for you. If this has helped you identify that your product brand needs to define its voice, please get in touch. Brand Shepherd would be delighted to consider working alongside your product brand. -- Questions & Feedback? Contact Brand Shepherd Today: brandshepherd.com
11:56
February 26, 2020
Ingredient #1: The Brand's Voice • The 5 Key Ingredients To Creating An Exceptional Product Brand • by Brand Shepherd
SEASON 2 of the Brand Shepherd Podcast:  The 5 Key Ingredients To Creating An Exceptional Product Brand EPISODE 1: The Brand's Voice The brand is always speaking, always communicating. Product brands are always persuading, selling, and providing delight for their users. But what is the tone of voice the brand uses? What words, specifically, make up its lexicon? Would the brand use humor or maturity to describe itself? Does the product brand know what is important to its users – what they find valuable? Speaking of value, does the product brand share the same current values that its users do? While it's true that the brand should reflect the values and even personalities of its key stakeholders, the brand ought to present as an entity of its own: Its own personality, unique value propositions, and tone of voice. Developing the brand voice is done through a number of exercises with key stakeholders, product managers/owners, and user research – all with guidance from experts who know how to sort and organize the information into useful, actionable data. Let's get into some of these exercises in this foundational episode to creating an exceptional product brand. -- Questions & Feedback? Contact Brand Shepherd Today: brandshepherd.com
14:13
January 14, 2020
Part 5: Love It Or Leave It • 5 Ways To Get The Best Work From Your Creative Team • Brand Shepherd
Love It Or Leave It No matter what, at the end of the product project, you have to love what is created. Maybe "love" is too strong a word. You need to believe in the final thing that is created. The creative team is there to bring ideas to life and to solve problems. A competent, mature creative team will offer their recommendations throughout the process. Yet, at the end of the process, you need to believe in what has been created. If you don't believe in it, you will start using something that doesn't have your full buy-in, and your customers will smell it a mile away. Solution: Before you make a final decision on approving that which your creative team has created, take at least a day, preferably longer, to sleep on it, and be sure you believe in it. This is aided by taking good notes during the process so you can instantly revisit why the process yielded what it did. Example:
 “We've done great work together. Now, I just need a day or two before we consider it final. I want to be 100% our brand believes in this new direction.” Important note: we're not looking for a purely emotional response here. Believing in the creative direction is more than that. It's a knowing, a gut-sense that it's the right call. If you're a data-driven person, this will drive you nuts because this advice is the X-factor that a lot of successful entrepreneurs use in everything they do. Wrap Up We created this series to help people who hire creative teams to get the best work from them. As Creative Director for Brand Shepherd, everything I, Dan, wrote and said in this series is what I put to use every day. Consider working with a creative team that knows and works with the guidance in this series. Contact us today - let's talk about building, branding, guiding better products.
08:07
May 21, 2019
Part 4: "Realistic Timing" • 5 Ways To Get The Best Work From Your Creative Team • Brand Shepherd
It's worth mentioning that timing is one of the top relationship killers between creative teams and those they serve. Some clients have a tendency to drop big projects on their team without asking how much time it will take, while assuming they know how long something will take to create. Similarly, creative teams often operate out of a position of fear of losing the account and do not establish firm timing expectations at the start and throughout the relationship. If the creative team is too afraid to lead the timing expectations, and push back when they are challenged, it leaves plenty of room for the client to make unrealistic assumptions. Solution: As part of an on-boarding process for new relationships and on-going projects, make timing its own talking point. This is a top-level priority, folks, so give it the space to be sorted out by the client and creative team alike. Example:
 “Let's talk about timing for this project: Ideally we need it by [date], but I don't work in this space – what is realistic to produce the best possible work?” By taking this approach, you show that you respect the time needed to create greatness for your product, and this show of respect will make your creative team think of you/your brand as their favorite to work with.
08:14
May 16, 2019
Part 3: "Ask The Right People" • 5 Ways To Get The Best Work From Your Creative Team • Brand Shepherd
Ask The Right People This one is touchy because once it happens, it’s a diplomatic tightrope for professional creatives to walk: As we build, brand, and guide better products, we need feedback to measure effectiveness. Whom we get feedback from is equally important as getting the actual feedback, so it is important to ask the right people for feedback. There is a temptation, however, to ask the nearest trusted warm-body: The spouse, co-worker, best friend, trusted advisor, etc. The problem is that these people are almost always not the people you need feedback from. They are not short on opinions, but unfortunately, their opinions don't matter when it comes to creative work. Why? Because when we're creating, we're communicating something to your product's audience - it's customer personas - and it is their feedback we need. The Solution: By gut-check or by data, take a look at your product's most loyal customers and ask them for feedback. Believe it or not, inviting them to be part of the betterment of the brand is reward enough for soliciting their feedback. However, sometimes asking for feedback gets more quality and quantity if it has an incentive. Your call. Avoid the insanity of asking your spouse, family member, co-worker, or friend what they think about the ideas unless they are part of your customer persona. However, sometimes asking for feedback gets more quality and quantity if it has an incentive. Your call. Avoid the insanity of asking your spouse, family member, co-worker, or friend what they think about the ideas unless they are part of your customer persona. The advice here is to avoid asking your spouse, family member, co-worker, or friend what they think about the ideas unless they are part of your customer persona. Example:
 “We have two great creative directions here. Let's get them in front of our most loyal customers for feedback. We'll also get fresh feedback to help us take one of these ideas o the finish line.” If I had to create a litmus test for brand owners who 'get it,' and those who do not 'get it' when it comes to product branding, this is the test: whom do they get their key feedback from. Pros don't ask people whose opinions don't matter. It's really that simple. By taking this approach, you avoid the echo chamber of people you already know and get the feedback from the right people: your customers.
08:17
May 7, 2019
Part 2: "Know Thyself" • 5 Ways To Get The Best Work From Your Creative Team • Brand Shepherd
by Dan Crask, Creative Director & Co-Owner, Brand Shepherd “I'll know it when I see it” is a phrase creatives hear a lot, and it’s a phrase we can usually resonate with quite well. Sometimes we don’t know, specifically, what we are about to create. We just have a hunch, intuition, or shadow of an idea. The end result will show itself along the way. We completely understand the "I'll know it when I see it" mentality. It is a perfectly normal creative process. But it’s also the most time-consuming because, well, it’s the longer route to a destination. The problem is that some people who buy creative services for products want this approach, but also want the budget of an “I know exactly what I want” project. Those two things are allergic to each other, and cannot co-exist for the long-term. Solution: Come to the table with ideas to run with for your product, or a larger budget for exploration. As you do, follow the guidance provided in Part 1 about being directional instead of executional. Example: “Here’s what I know: this product’s main benefit is that it’s portable. It needs to appeal to kids, but in order to get to kids, it has to appeal to parents too. This is a product that’ll mostly be used outdoors in the summer and early autumn. We know our competitor brands well, and what we want to highlight for this product. Let's see some ideas within these parameters." Now we’re cooking! You don’t precisely know what you want, but you do know your goal. The professional creative is now equipped to create some options that will blow your mind and increase sales. It's really that simple.
08:19
April 30, 2019
Part 1: "Directional > Executional" • 5 Ways To Get The Best Work From Your Creative Team • Brand Shepherd
If there’s one thing professional creative teams loathe, it’s being hired for a gig, then being directed, step-by-step, how something should look or function. At best, it sends contradictory messages. You’re paying product professionals who live and breathe the daily work of solving challenges by design. So, why direct them to tackle minutia like making the logo 20% bigger or the photo on the right side instead of where the creative put it? It's best to lean into the hired professional. It's best to assume these hired professionals know what they're doing. However, that is not to say you have to stay quiet and take whatever is given. There are plenty of creative teams who live up to that way-too-true stereotype. There's a way to balance the process. Solution: Be informative by telling your creative team what isn’t working and what you are trying to achieve. This is called being "directional" with your feedback rather than "executional." We use the word "executional" for when someone gives outright creative direction that they're not qualified to give, or if they are just being a classic micro-manager. The best way is to be "directional" – communicate why the design isn't quite right. Creatives love this type of feedback! It adds another layer to the challenge. Creatives get bored and mentally check-out when they're given color-by-the-numbers, direct instructions. And let's be frank: You're likely unqualified to be giving professional creative direction. And that's a big deal. Would you instruct your architect how to design a "better" space? Would you instruct your hired kitchen and bath designer how to design a better space? Heck, would you tell your mechanic how best to change the oil in your vehicle? So stop telling professional creatives how to create. It's foolish. We know it's foolish, and it just makes us respect you less. Over time, this builds up and the relationship will end on a sour note. Example: Here is how to be directional in your feedback. “The font choices in the logo options aren’t working for this because we want to attract a more sophisticated buyer, and these look too simplistic.” By taking this approach, you have just equipped the creative to do what they do best: Create. You’ve just sparked a fire in the imagination of your pro. You’ll get a lot more bang for your spend by approaching feedback this way.
08:43
April 22, 2019
Introduction • 5 Ways To Get The Best Work From Your Creative Team • Brand Shepherd
Whether you have hired an agency, or are working with an in-house department, there are ways to get the best work from your creative team. You have expectations of getting ideas brought to life for the betterment and profitability of the brand, and your creative team wants to unleash their power on your brand to make it worthy of their portfolio and bragging rights. It should be a win-win thing, right? Yet how many times have I spoke with a business owner or brand manager who felt like their previous creative team just didn’t produce their best work? Over the years I have noticed that the best work is usually not produced for one glaring reason: The process broke down. Maybe the creative team didn’t communicate any kind of process at all, maybe the client didn’t abide by the process, or maybe it was a “make it up as we go” thing. The common thread in any scenario is that the process was broken, and so it’s the elements of the creation process I will be tackling over the next 5 posts. How This Benefits You Ok, ok… enough about us, the creatives. You’re the one paying the invoices, so let’s get on with how reading the next 5 posts is going to benefit you. Just as you want to get the most out of anything else you invest in, this is no different. Yet I’m willing to assume that you can easily wrap your mind around how to get the most out of energy efficiency in your office building, or an office printer that doesn’t waste ink, or even a CPA that offers tax prep services too. However, when it comes to managing a team of professional creatives, there are few prior experiences that can prepare you to get the best work from them. Over the next 5 posts, I am going to share what I know to be true about getting the best work from creative teams so that you can get the best possible ROI. Context I want to preface everything by sharing my favorite quote about my profession. It comes from Walter Gropious, founder of the Bauhaus school of design in the early 1900s. Gropious said, “Art is self-expression; Design is problem-solving.” Did you catch the distinction? As a professional creative, I am not an artist. My team and I do not create “art” for our clients. Art is what we do on our own time to keep us creatively sharp, our self-expression. It’s the music we write and perform, the photographs we take, the paintings we paint, the poetry we write, and so on. That is art. Design is where we set out to solve a problem. The thing isn’t selling. The thing is new and needs a brand identity. The service needs a better website. The brand needs to tell a story with video. That is systematic problem-solving, aka, design. We solve the challenges by design. We create by a process of design. All of this is shared so that you know where I am coming from as a professional creator, agency owner, and creative director.
11:07
April 15, 2019