In branding, the secret’s in the execution, not the idea | Ply

In branding, the secret’s in the execution, not the idea


Mark Campbell

5 min read

I learnt this adage in a previous work-life what feels a million years ago... but it's one I've seen borne out over and over again.

The thought is pretty simple - lots of people have great ideas, but you need to actually act on them and execute them well for them to really hit.

Execution in branding

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately in the context of developing your brand. Not just your logo, but the whole brand experience:

  • Uncovering what makes you unique, what you stand for, and deciding how you will show yourself to be different from your competition

  • Turning that into a clear brand position and backing it up with a strong narrative and key messages

  • Crafting a visual identity - logos, colours, fonts, patterns, photography, layouts and more - that reflects your strategy and personality

  • Bringing all that goodness to life online through your website and socials

That’s a lot to execute well.

And that’s before you even get into thinking about how the rest of your business will actually deliver on your brand promises.


Awkward much?

You’ve now achieved the opposite of what you set out to do, giving the wrong impression about who you really are.

Good idea: “We’re not like other [insert competitors… lawyers, accountants, architects], we actually care! Let’s include that in our messaging”

Bad execution: Not actually demonstrating through your brand and messaging how you “actually care” (or any other unique quality you stand for), and not showing what benefits that will actually bring for your customers.

Ironically when a potential customer reads something seemingly positive about your brand but it doesn’t ring true, it will quickly turn into a negative - with your brand coming off as disingenuous.

One more…

Good idea: “We’re a bold company so let’s design a bold brand that’ll really stand out against our boring competition”

Bad execution: Over-doing it with a garish colour palette and shouty messages to appear more “bold” than you actually are. Or worse - not really understanding your customers and if this is even something that they want.

How to execute well

You may have already picked up on a few themes and common problems, but here’s some tips that can help in executing on your good ideas.

  • Develop a deeper understanding of what you’re really trying to achieve before you go too far. A lot of times it’s in the subtle nuances that make all the difference - so having a crystal clear strategy and brief can avoid getting off track. E.g. What does “bold” actually mean to you?

  • Reflect often as you’re working on your brand… asking yourself honestly if it’s delivering on what you wanted, and referring back to your agreed goals to see if they’re being met. The longer you ignore a bad feeling the harder it gets.

  • Don’t cut corners. At the end of the day, good work takes time and focus. Getting excited about a good idea and rushing it can be tempting, but in the end you’ll be wasting that good idea with bad execution. And if an idea is really worth pursuing in the first place, it’s worth doing well.

  • Above all - be genuine. This is a non-negotiable in good branding, as you’ll always get found out if you aren’t being yourself. It will also just all feel more natural and flow easier if it’s coming from a real place.

  • Hire someone good. Whether it’s internally or with an outside professional, you need to choose the right person for the job. Executing is a skill, so you need someone who has experience and can walk the fine line between cringe and cool. Pick a partner will work with you to build on your good ideas and bring them to life in just the right way.

At the end of the day, there’s no fool proof way to execute perfectly every time. Plenty of good ideas stall along the way before they’re realised.

But there is one sure way not to deliver on a good idea, and that’s with poor follow through… so make a clear plan, find the right partner, and give that idea the execution it deserves.