• Transform magazine
  • July 01, 2022


Opinion: The unsung heroes of brand transformation

Max Speigelberg.jpeg

Brand implementation specialists are the unsung heroes of the brand development journey, says Max Spiegelberg

You will have heard of Lewis Hamilton.  You may know Sebastian Vettel too, even if you’re not a motorsport fanatic. But have you heard of Paddy Lowe? No?

Paddy is the talented technical director of the constructors’ back-to-back Grand Prix title-winning team, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS. It’s he and his team who are integral to Lewis’ success. They work tirelessly throughout the year to gain competitive advantage at each of the 20 Grand Prix circuits. The engine is obsessively fine-tuned to maximise horsepower conversion into mph and every body component on the car is shaped and positioned to optimise traction and reduce drag.

There is no doubt that Lewis Hamilton is a superbly skilled driver, perhaps the best in recent years, but he’s not a triple world title-holder without the dedication and ingenuity of his team.

So here’s my point… brand transformation is a long and complex journey. It’s always the marketers and the brand agencies that are recognised and celebrated for success stories, but they don’t represent the full picture.

A brand programme naturally starts with the business, principally the marketing director, who will engage brand experts and associated strategists and creatives. With the positioning created or tweaked, creative ideas flow and a new brand emerges like a butterfly from its chrysalis.

The brand is born, but that’s just the start of the journey.

What follows is the gargantuan task of delivering that brand and its expression across every conceivable physical touchpoint – exteriors of buildings, receptions, door plates, vehicles, uniforms, artistic sculptures, meeting rooms, office furniture schemes and so on. Each geographic market, each building, each meeting space, each chair, each floor covering needs to be considered for brand consistency and continuity. Somebody, somewhere is overseeing this, ensuring quality and colour, style and materials are all aligned to present a brand that is dressed from the same cloth wherever in the world you might be.

I introduce you to the implementers – the unsung heroes of brand transformation - passionate about brand, its manifestation and the value it commands. 

We work tirelessly to ensure that Pantone 158 looks like Pantone 158 across each and every substrate and material be it vinyl, acrylic, twisted wool, painted mdf, backlit, behind glass, at eye level or 500 ft up in the air. Any small slip in standards can have incremental effects; as you travel across the globe Pantone 158 could become Pantone159 and from there, Pantone 160 and then all of a sudden your lovely fresh orange logo morphs into a dirty brown. 

You can guarantee that the Starbucks devotee who’s just travelled 12 hours from Seattle to Shanghai will notice a substandard execution of their beloved coffee brand. In fact, they may even hold you to account for failing to maintain standards and declare it publicly via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. 

There is an extraordinary level of knowledge and expertise that goes into delivering branded environments across the world – engineers, material specialists, quantity surveyors, builders, architects, metal workers, joiners, logistics experts, programme managers, painters, installers – and it falls to the implementer to co-ordinate the program and pull all the strings so that the brand is rolled out, at pace, on time and within budget.

These days, brand reputation is a regular item on boardroom agenda, and brand appearance is more important than ever. As such, implementers have a key role to play. No longer simply manufacturers, leading implementers like Principle have evolved to provide an end-to-end support service through design translation, value engineering, manufacturing, quality control, supply chain management, delivery, installation and even staff training and on-going maintenance.   

I should point out that we don’t feel completely undervalued. Our clients appreciate us. In fact, we are increasingly called in as in-house consultants, bridging the gulf between design and delivery and managing brand change within the organisation across every market and every touchpoint.

Even the industry is starting to take notice. Congratulations Transform for including a couple of implementation categories in the 2016 Transform Awards Europe, and good luck to this year’s contenders. We look forward to entering next year and celebrating the recognition that this discipline deserves.

Max Spiegelberg is head of business development at Principle.  He heads up the London office for Principle, managing key agency and new client relationships.


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