Digital 2013: Workshop 1 Building an Effective Digital Brand

14:45 – 15:45 and at 16.15 -17.15

With the latest insights and approaches to digital brand
designs in their minds, the workshop explores the best
strategies for capturing customer sentiment before
cutting the design.. The workshop will cover areas
such as brand design fundamentals as well as how to
formulate a digital engagement strategy. So where do I
start? How do I use my research and analysis to create
a compelling digital brand?… and do I know if I have a
good one?

Speaker: Jim Wolf, Digital Planner at Leithal Thinking

Twitter: @jimwolffman



(The below are Christie’s notes from Digital 2013.  They have been posted during the session and will be tidied up later – more Digital 2013 here)

The Digital Brand Cookbook from The Leith
The video for this workshop is at the end of these notes.

Leithal Thinking is part of The Leith Agency in Edinburgh and maybe best known for The Fanny Ad for Irn Bru.

Jim’s background is in startups and he also used to work in educational training.

A good metaphor for thinking about creating a digital brand is cooking, you may not be able to cook like Jamie Oliver but with a few good ingredients and an approach, you can still make a good Fishpie. Digital is quite the same.

What makes a (digital) brand compelling? (Digital is in brackets as digital is ubiquitous, it is becoming everything. Essentially we are talking brands but with an emphasis on digital.)

The 6 ingredients:

#1 self knowledge (know thyself)

A bit of a warning to not be something your not (mutton dressed as lamb or Whitney dressed as Britney) you can learn a lot more by studying yourself rather than looking at others. In the case of branding you need to know what your business is and what you stand for.

Dollar Shave Club really knows themselves and is a great example of self knowledge – from their name to their website they are 100% clear what they do and what they stand for which you get a feel for immediately.

Your logo in fact  is just the tip of the iceburg. Your brand is not a superficial wrapper. It is a way of shaping culture internally too, build a digital brand from the inside out with staff and stakeholder interviews and workshops and focus groups to understand the business fully.


  • who are you, and
  • who are you not?

#2 knowing your market became It started as a gay social network but they found that it simply didn’t work.  They found that a lot of people were sharing a lot of great design items (things that people could buy) so they changed the business and is now worth over $200million. Part of this came from finding out what their audience wants and focusing on what people like talking about. Another example is Kraken Rum who created a very strong look and feel and were really clever in the digital sphere with a game and knew that they were about convincing people to drink rum over other rum (rather than persuading peeps to drink rum in the first place). Are you trying to increase category usage or to steal share?


Importance of researching and discussing with your target audience what they actually want to get the best results. You need to find out what your users need and how your product or service differs what what it can give them.   It’s good to co-create with your target market, not least because you’ll learn what’s important to them and indeed where they hang out. Jim used the noknivesbetterlives campaign to illustrate how they found that  hard mem don’t want to disappoint their mums which became an integral part of the campaign. They also learned that the people they were trying to reach didn’t see the usual ad spaces they would buy (so they used graffiti to reach them)

2 good questions:

  • how does your product/service differ?
  • what does your customer actually want?

#3 have a clear set of values that inspire

BrewDog and RedBull examples of showing attitude and values throughout entire brand. RedBull is an example of creating brilliant content that is actually advertising (and they actually make a profit from selling content to networks). A clear core set of values rallies staff and stakeholders, know what you stand for and what you are against.

  • what are your values?
  • what do you stand for?
  • what do you stand against?

#4 effective functionality and engaging personality

One of the best examples is Mailchimp – something very functional but also engaging. A fairly unexciting service is made a bit more interesting by their use of their monkey charachter which provides inane comments as you work.   If you type Boredom into the search bar the whole program turns into an asteroid game (technical term: easter eggs (hidden surprises). On Valentines day they changed the homepage, they are quite connected with Etsy and the craft community and they have a very creative internal ethos.


  • what works well,
  • what works badly and
  • what’s your personality?

#5 complexity simplified

(extra interesting fact -Estonia is almost entirely covered by wireless access and almost all of it is free)

One of biggest jobs for marketing agencies is to take all the clutter and distil it all down into something simpler to understand. have made a consistent style and layout across all digital services (at least that is where they are trying to get to) doing the hard work to make it simple, hoping that people will find the info themselves. They have a strict style guide for this (well worth reading).

Ockham’s razor:  “the simplest solution is often the best” and is a great principle to take to anything.

So ask yourself:

  • what can you cut,
  • what can you simply and
  • what does you audience REALLY need to know?

#6 consistent evolutionary approach

Brands will evolve but that doesn’t mean you can’t be consistent in their approach.

Twitter is a great example of this – the principle has stayed the same but have stripped their tagline right back.

Irn-bru is another example. “likeable maverick” – a maverick who doesn’t go too far.  Have stuck with this through TV ads historically to now more and more online activity.


  • Where are you now?
  • Where do you want to be?


Digital 2013, Building an Effective Digital Brand, Workshop 1 from Interactive Scotland on Vimeo.

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