The Brand Game – can you summarise your brand in one word?

Katie Canton of creative agency Birddog ( shares an interesting take on how to make sure that your brand becomes truly embedded in your organisation by playing ‘the brand test’. It’s worth a read. ‘There’s a game we like to play here at Birddog where, during a client meeting, we randomly point at a member of the Birddog crew and have them explain Birddog in one word. 

More than just the mild amusement we all glean from watching the unsuspecting crewmember squirm, this “activity” has an actual purpose.

In order to be initiated into the Birddog crew, one must first learn a few things: the Birddog brand values, establishing statement and the Birddog brand promise to name but three. You need to know them to join the crew, and you need to internalize them to remain a member. Young or old, intern or director, everyone is tested. Everyone must pass. Again and again and again.

We don’t do it to be assholes, there are plenty of other things we do to be assholes. This we do because everything that the Birddog crew creates, from the way we interact with clients to how we sign off our emails, has to fit within the Birddog brand. If you don’t know the brand inside and out, how can you possibly be expected to be on point?

Back to the game, the one word that all Birddog crewmembers will eventually spit out, after the shock of finally being the one picked has passed, is ‘change’. “We think. We do. You Change.” Change. It’s all over our website, it’s all over everything we do. That’s not to say every communication we put out has to have the word ‘change’ in it, far from it actually (that would be too easy). ‘Change’ is not the message; ‘change’ is the answer.

When answering the all-important, all encompassing “why” questions – Why are we tweeting this? Why are we writing this blog? Why am I attending this event? Why am I sharing this video? – the answer has to be ‘change’. If it’s not, we don’t do it. Simples.

At the very top of our communications hierarchy sits the word ‘change’. Expanding out from that is, well, everything else; brand values, brand promise, creative context, messages, headlines, imagery, channels, BARK, videos, social media and so on and so on and so on. They are the building blocks of the ‘change’ pyramid – or do they funnel into change? – funnel or pyramid? Either way, if you’ve drawn a triangle you’re doing alright.

So let’s play the game, you, you sitting there in front of your screen reading the latest Birddog blog, describe your brand in one word.

What word have you come up with? (And don’t say change, that’s ours and you can’t have it!)

With that word in mind, think of all your marketing materials and brand communications – do they fit? Think about your company culture – does it fit? Think about your products or services – do they fit? Play the game with your colleagues, what words do they come up with? Is it the same word you picked? If the answer to any of the above questions is no, you might have a problem.

Here’s the good news, if you have a problem and need to ‘change’, you now know who to ask for help. Bam!’

About Terri Lucas

Partner and Director of Marketing Strategy @hymansrobertson. Frustrated by lack of innovation and creativity in B2B marketing. Passionate about changing that. Otherwise I am a snapper, book worm, foodie, music lover and traveler. These views are my own.
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