Voice needs to show up in a really consistent way across every touchpoint and we think very expansively about voice—it’s a handy moniker. But we’re thinking about, it could be dealing with people, it could be dealing with terms and conditions, it could be dealing with a product interface. All of that has to hang together and all of that is voice.
Howard Belk is Co-CEO and Chief Creative Officer at Siegel+Gale, an award-winning brand strategy, design and experience firm. Over the past 25 years he has served Fortune 500, C-Suite clients, helping them compete and win by leveraging simplicity to engage customers and employees.
In this episode of Velocitize Talks, Belk discusses brand simplicity, voice and creativity in the fast-paced digital age.
Simple reigns supreme (0:36)
Simplicity; that’s something that our founder Alan Siegel, who’s one of the giants of the brand building world, landed on in the 70’s. That’s something that was a really important idea—to simplify relationships—and that in doing so would strengthen them.
As Siegel+Gale’s Chief Creative Officer, Belk challenges design teams across the globe to bring humanity to brands. “Doing this for dynamic global organizations,” he notes, “requires supreme simplicity.” Simplicity is more relevant now than ever. With every project, the firm thinks about how they can simplify and help people understand what they are getting into when they engage with a brand. In a series of interviews with global brand practitioners called SMPL Q+A, Siegel+Gale dives into all things relevant to branding, design and simplicity.
Expect the unexpected (1:47)
We go for being the simplicity company, looking for experiences that are so crystal clear, so amazingly fun or pleasant or expected that they’re actually unexpected. What we want is customers, users, and consumers after they engage with a brand to say, ‘Wow, why doesn’t everybody do it just like that?’
Simplicity shows up in experiences and that’s where brands are going. In the past, the branding business was the identity business and brands were left wondering, “How many things can we stamp our identity on and let the world know who we are?”
Siegel+Gale commissioned the Global Brand Simplicity Index, a study that reaffirms an increasing demand for transparent, direct, simple experiences that make peoples’ lives easier. Additionally, simplicity shows up in vastly different ways for different generations, like Boomers and Gen Z.
Just add wine (3:15)
We’ll help [start ups] distill their story, to really understand their audience, and elevate the parts of the value proposition that are going to drive preference and purchase. Cut right to the chase and make the cash register ring.
Earlier in his career, Belk founded a marketing services agency that was acquired by Omnicom. This experience fueled his ability to develop creative strategies that drive business results. One client Siegel+Gale worked with, Blue Apron, was lost in a sea of food-delivery startups and needed a way to stand out and express what they were all about. Blue Apron decided to add wine to its offerings and with its award-winning design, Siegel+Gale “adapted the brand’s friendly, yet elevated, aesthetic for its wine business” with a new logo, clean design and a more coherent and distinctive style.
Raise your voice (9:44)
The way a brand speaks to the world and engages the world ought to be as recognizable as a person’s voice.
Keeping a consistent brand voice across many touchpoints is challenging. Siegel+Gale essentially created and trademarked the concept of brand voice. They were the first firm that ever began to recognize and think expansively about voice in the whole experience of engaging with the brand.
This has become very important now due to the different formats and engagement across different domains (online, in-person, smart devices, call centers) and this voice needs to show up in a consistent way across every touchpoint. In a blog post by Derrick Mead, Siegel+Gale Brand Communication Director, the importance of brand voice in a crisis is “particularly important when it comes to establishing and reinforcing trust, which in turn is crucial for brands attempting to tell anyone anything that matters in the distraction (or chaos) of the present moment.”
The need for speed (11:24)
We need to do the things that we do at an incredibly fast pace. I’m talking 10 times as fast as we did them 10 years ago. So that’s a big challenge. It means that we have to do the things that we’ve done in different ways. In a way [we need to] adopt sort of agile development processes, parallel path things that used to be sequential, and be very smart about retaining the things that we learn from one client in terms of technology or in terms of new developments.
The need for speed has been a huge disruption in the brand building world and it’s important for agencies to work at the fast-paced speed of their clients. Siegel+Gale has worked with enormous enterprises, like client Hewlett Packard, to develop and implement comprehensive new branding programs in a flash.
In 2014, HP split into two separate entities and Siegel+Gale worked with them “to stand up a new $50+bn enterprise with well over a hundred thousand employees in a matter of months.” This award-winning work included a new HPE visual identity and a global launch via digital experiences and live events.