Paul Bailey is Brand Strategy Director at Halo, a creative agency out of the UK. Paul has 20 years experience in brand diagnosis, strategy, and realization with a focus on improving experience, empowering culture, and achieving business objectives.
For decades, Paul Bailey has been working with brands & agencies of all sizes and shapes on advertising and brand management, so when we began our interview with a question as to how he defines ‘a brand,’ it was no shock his answer was as thorough and as thoughtful as it was.
“I think the big thing to identify with branding, is firstly there is no one agreed definition of what the term brand means, and that’s ok.” says Paul.
“Years ago I thought I should strive to establish a singular definition of “branding.” What I try to do nowadays, when I’m talking with a client about branding, is define how we at the agency define branding, and then work with the clients to drill into the shared meaning.”
Paul mentions this non-defined reality of a brand being the ground level for establishing the actual definition of what a particular brand is. A brand is not a singular thing, but a mix of elements that combine to create the brand. Paul went on to unpack these three main elements.
“There are three things that comprise a brand. 1) the business or the organization, 2) the meaning or the experience of an entity, and 3) the communicative elements or brand assets. All three of those things are defined as “brand,” and that complicates things. What I say, is the most important thing to note is that the brand is NOT the business, and the business is not the brand - they are often conflated in marketing discourse which further confuses things. They are obviously inextricably linked, but they are not the same thing.”
After a longer definition of how brand meaning is dynamically created internally and externally by the marketplace, we touched on how to approach brand management.
“I would take management as being a rigid way of doing something,” explains Paul. “When you lock down the brand elements you can manage the usage, but you can’t manage the meaning. However, through advertising and communication, you can lead the pursuit of brand meaning. This is why I think, brand leadership is about meaning, brand management is about the proper usage of elements.”
We then dive into Paul’s conception of what his role is as a brand strategist.
“My role is to lead the strategy team, and that role is about making sure the whole agency is aware of brand strategy as much as possible. I upscale the understanding of a client’s brand, through digital, design, creative, and I work with everyone to ensure the appreciation of strategy and brand are intertwined. We will regularly school a client on what their brands mean. When we sit down with a new client, we are tasked with working on the brand strategy, with my end goal of developing a way for us to win better through the brand. Most clients have a great understanding of brand internally, but they don’t know how to communicate it to an audience. Discussions are a great place to discover brand meaning and application points, which can lead to the creation of a “brand platform” which are key concepts that become our agency's Rosetta stone for communication.”
For a Cinderella story about brand management with fairy tale ending, Paul’s take on how failure is a necessary step towards success, and if Paul prefers a time machine or a magic wand, listen to the entire episode at the links provided above and below.