In the Now Podcast: Episode 30

Join Nowspeed's CEO, David Reske, as he engages in discussions with founders, marketers, and CEOs from around the globe. Delving into the realm of marketing and leadership, aiming to unravel the myths and misunderstandings that often surround these topics.

How To Create A Meaningful Brand Identity

Is your brand identity more than your logo and tagline? In this episode of “In the Now”, David Reske of Nowspeed interviews Dan Stokes of JStokes Agency, who argues that strategy and creative need to come together in order to build an effective brand. Only by starting with your “why” and what makes you unique, can you create the brand messaging and graphics that are meaningful, emotional, and memorable for your identity. Dan has decades of experience helping companies think through their brand essence to make it come alive. Listen to Dan’s Interview now!

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Episode Transcript

In the Now: Dan Stokes

JStokes Agency’s Dan Stokes champions an integrative approach to brand development, combining strategy and creativity. He asserts that beginning with your unique ‘why’ paves the way brand messaging that makes a true impact.

Watch the full interview with Dan Stokes here and read an excerpt from the interview below. 

Nowspeed: Hello everyone, I’m David Reske, founder and president of Nowspeed. a full-service digital marketing agency providing everything from pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to email and content marketing. Welcome to this edition of In the Now, where we aim to dispel myths and misunderstandings about marketing and leadership with some of the world’s most intriguing personalities. Today, we have with us Dan Stokes, a strategic marketer with an impressive profile. He is the Executive Vice President of JStokes Agency, a creative marketing agency based in Walnut Creek, California. Welcome, Dan.

Dan: Thanks for having me, Dave.

Nowspeed: Dan, you’re renowned for accelerating your clients’ revenue growth, increasing visibility, generating leads, and building brand loyalty. That sounds exhausting. How do you manage?

Dan: Well, Dave, it’s about understanding our purpose. We’re here to help our clients achieve their objectives when they need us. That’s our primary role.

Nowspeed: I often start these conversations with a ‘mythbuster’ question. Today, I’d like to explore – is brand building just about creative design, or is it something more?

Dan: Branding, often misunderstood, is not just about design. It’s about the associations your target audience has about your company, product, or service. So, it’s a mix of strategy and creativity.

Nowspeed: Could you elaborate on the starting point for the brand-building process?

Dan: The initial point should always be identifying the long-term strategic advantages of the company or product. It sets the direction for the brand-building journey.

Years ago, I interacted with people from Landor Associates, a global design firm. They had a complex, strategy-led process for brand creation. That interaction shaped my approach to branding.

Nowspeed: How extensive is the branding process, typically?

Dan: The extent depends on the company’s goals and size. For instance, a medium-sized company with a revenue of $20 million wouldn’t need an extensive process. We conduct background research, find their strategic advantages, and then convert that into a sustainable brand following Simon Sinek’s “How, Why, What” concept. It’s a thoughtful, layered process.

Nowspeed: That’s insightful, Dan. How does the brand-building process differ for smaller companies versus larger enterprises?

Dan: For a smaller company, the process needs to be more targeted. The key is to understand their unique value proposition, competitive landscape, and audience needs. For larger enterprises, the process might be more elaborate, involving a deeper understanding of the market, competition, and multiple audience segments.

Nowspeed: How do you ensure that the brand resonates with the target audience?

Dan: We have to strike an emotional chord with the audience. This is where creativity comes into play, and design is a critical part of that. While strategy is the train’s engine, creativity is the fuel that propels it forward.

Nowspeed: Could you share some of the significant challenges you face during the brand-building process?

Dan: The most significant challenge is striking a balance between the company’s vision and the audience’s perception. It’s a tightrope walk, and sometimes, it takes several iterations to get it right. Another challenge is maintaining consistency in branding across all platforms while adapting to changing market trends.

Nowspeed: That sounds quite complex. Could you share a brand-building success story that you’re particularly proud of?

Dan: I’ve had the privilege to work on several successful brand-building campaigns. But one that stands out is a start-up tech firm. Despite a modest budget, we were able to develop a brand identity that resonated with their target audience. The key was understanding their unique value proposition and effectively communicating it to their audience.

Nowspeed: That’s a fantastic achievement, Dan. What would be your advice to companies embarking on their brand-building journey?

Dan: My advice would be to start with a solid strategy. Understand your unique selling proposition, your audience, and your competition…

Make sure to watch this interview in its entirety here.