Listening is the key to brand co-creation

We all want to be listened to, heard and feel valued. When co-creating a new brand identity, this remains true with your audience, listening is a vital first step and pays huge dividends later on...

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Listening well gives you insights and uncovers stories that would otherwise remain untold. Not only that, listening gains trust and is the first step in establishing a mutually beneficial relationship that will last. Let’s look at how we embrace this openness in our branding process.

Like many established processes, the way we approach branding has evolved and every project teaches us something new. Our most recent project, the Community Organisers rebrand taught us many things but the biggest take-away by far was the power of listening to help problem solve and co-create solutions that everyone feels part of. Listening was already integral to our process which resonated well with their approach to community work but once involved in the project we discovered new ways to listen and collaborate.

Listening is at the heart of community organising, learning how to listen mindfully and consciously to others and to yourself. At key stages throughout the project we embarked on listening exercises with the wider membership. At some points this involved us listening and learning, receiving training to become immersed and begin their own organising journeys. At others it meant sharing ideas, concepts and visuals to the broader membership asking for their personal input to help guide the direction of the creative. A beautiful thing happens to the creative process when you ask 150 vested, passionate individuals what hopes and dreams they have for the organisation and how we might best capture that energy in the new brand.

A key lesson from the project was listening without agenda. On occasion in our personal and professional lives, when listening to others we may have predefined opinions and we partly use listening as a vehicle for then subsequently voicing those opinions. Community organisers are taught to not only be mindful of this trap but to truly listen without agenda and really understand the issues that others are telling you. It is a skill and one that needs to be practiced, much like mindfulness and being present in the moment, focusing solely on the task at hand.

From the outset of the project we immersed ourselves in the community organising world by attending a one day introduction course. A big part of the day was teaching listening techniques which we were then able to put into practice during the co-creation sessions we held at CO18, their annual conference.

Having first hand conversations with a large number of members and collecting their thoughts and ideas around the proposed brand was invaluable. However it was the earlier training that gave us the ability to truly listen and take on-board a wide range of views and opinions.

The final Identity and messaging would not have been successful without this input, it enabled us to spend valuable time with the core of the organisation and truly understand what success for the project looks like from their perspective. The membership became empowered and connected to the project, and a sense of ownership was born with the big changes that lay ahead. The risk of the launch was also massively reduced as many were already exposed to how their organisation would look and feel.

Involving key audience members throughout and taking them on the journey gives them a sense of pride once the new brand is launched. We are experts in facilitating this journey and creating brands that your audience feel more connected to. These members then become loyal brand ambassadors and have a renewed passion for the organisation they have helped shape. With a steady and experienced hand, co-creation is an essential tool for creating brands that have depth, integrity and a lasting impact.

“The listening work was vital and I don’t see anyone else who would do it in that way. Certainly, you need as many inputs as possible. What you did was invaluable to our work going forwards. We couldn’t have done it without your interviews and the insights that people brought forward. It was absolutely perfect.”

Nick Gardham - CEO Community Organisers

Our take-aways

  1. We all want to be heard, it’s empowering.
  2. You are not the expert, they are, listen to them.
  3. Listen to as many people as possible early on, and then involve them throughout to build a sense of ownership and connection with the project.

You can read the full case study for the project here.