Use Research to Avoid Common Brand Strategy Pitfalls

We were thrilled to be interviewed by Kathy Ireland for Worldwide Business. She asked some great questions, and we shared how to use research to drive brand strategy so that your integrated marketing actually communicates to the right people for the right reasons.

Kathy Ireland: Welcome to Worldwide Business. I’m Kathy Ireland.

While most companies understand the importance of branding, they struggle with implementing all of the components that lead to success. Retail Voodoo helps their clients understand the power of branding and delivers a value-driven triple bottom line.

President David Lemley is here to tell us more. Welcome, David.

David Lemley: Thank you, Kathy.

Kathy Ireland: David, what are some of the traditional challenges companies face when it comes to design and brand strategy?

David Lemley: I think the biggest problem they face is really understanding the vocabulary. Many organizations push them together and consider them a single function. In reality, brand strategy is a set of diagnostics and insights that are used to create a language, and design is the creative translation of that language.

Kathy Ireland: How is Retail Voodoo helping these companies to re-define their message?

David Lemley: We’re helping them really connect with why they exist and what their purpose is.

Kathy Ireland: In this Worldwide Business field report, we take a closer look at Retail Voodoo and their brand strategy solutions.

Narrator: Many companies fall short of establishing an effective brand. This is often because they struggle to integrate their business strategy with their visuals, and they don’t know how to incorporate their research into a usable strategy.

Retail Voodoo helps values-focused triple bottom line companies make the world better by using disruptive brand strategy and category-defining design to make strong, sticky, and impactful brands.

Susan Strible (Ruffwear): Retail Voodoo was on our radar for a couple of years. We realized when we needed to redo our packaging, they were the obvious choice for us. They had such great alignment with Ruffwear’s values, that it was just a natural fit to work together. We really appreciate their focus on archetype branding, and we felt like with that understanding on their end, we could really do some magic together. I believe they were the best partner for us in the end.

Will Blount (Ruffwear): Early in the process when we brought the project to Retail Voodoo, David’s first comment was, “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to help with packaging.” As he went through the research and did some in-field studies, he quickly realized that we’d engineered the soul out of our packaging in an effort to create supply chain efficiency.

It was this observation that he brought back to us that was the “Aha” moment for us.

Diana Fryc: Most of our clients come to us for a few reasons. First of all, we’re a brand strategy firm and a graphic design firm second. Underneath that umbrella, we deliver brand strategy which is what the company stands for, how they’re going to move forward, we talk about innovation a little bit. Then we do the design deliverables. People usually engage with us when they’re looking at packaging systems, they need to reinvent themselves graphically.

Sometimes we’re involved with in-store marketing plans where we’re talking about designing an interior space, creating signage, connecting the consumer with a brand on a real-time basis in the store. Then we do some of the other things that you’d expect a firm like ours to do, like marketing plans and ongoing marketing collateral and deliverables.

Andrew Rubinstein: Retail Voodoo’s deliverables is everything from brand strategy to brand identity, in-store shopper experience, category audits, packaging systems, product portfolio alignment, and integrated marketing.

Our goal is to understand what the needs of our clients are first and foremost, try to prescribe the best strategy to move forward, and then through that continued relationship develop their whole identity, their look, and depending on who they are and what they need, complete this holistic package and hand it off to them.

Sharelle Klaus (Dry Soda): What I like about their approach is that they are fearless in what they ask you to do. They partner with you so they’re right by your side through the whole process. They’re very passionate partners as well.

Then what’s really amazing about that process is the amount of voices they bring to the table. From consumers to the different partners that we work with from buyers to vendors to our own team. Everybody has a voice in that and really is able to have an impact on the end result. For us, this whole rebranding has been an absolute success slam dunk!

Kathy Ireland: David, in your opinion, why is research so critical to developing an effective brand strategy?

David Lemley: Research takes it out of subjectivity. I really think the research helps you have a baseline for conversation. It really helps so that it’s no longer focused on the most outspoken personalities in the room and their taste. It really changes so that we understand how people think, what their need states are, and how we can connect our promises that we’re going to make into their lives and their needs.

Kathy Ireland: We all know that it’s important for companies to engage and connect with their customers. How does Retail Voodoo help clients do just that?

David Lemley: We’re helping them separate design-driven deliverables from a brand strategy. First, we help them set up their reason-to-be and understand what their people, their purpose, their planet, and their profit is going to be. We help them with things like portfolio category alignment and the language they’re going to use to talk to the world.

Then when we get into the creative translation, we do things where we will create immersive brand experiences that help people to slow down, understand what their need state is, and really help the company communicate with those people. We also do things like naming and all of the writing in order to help make sure that everything comes together and that it doesn’t sound like a marketer.

Will Blount (Ruffwear): One of the unexpected bonuses we’ve had with working with Retail Voodoo is we’ve really learned a lot about ourselves and really how our audience connects with us. We’ve been able to take all of this information that Retail Voodoo has given us, and we’ve begun implementing it in our overall branding strategies. I think it’s really made us a lot more approachable and friendly to our consumers. It’s really helped us to tell the more emotional, authentic side of who we are and why we do the things that we do.

Kathy Ireland: It looks like Retail Voodoo can really help companies transform their design and brand strategy. David, thank you so much for joining us today!

David Lemley: Thank you, Kathy.

Kathy Ireland: Thank you. For Worldwide Business, I’m Kathy Ireland. Thank you for watching.

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Founder, President, & Chief Strategist
David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

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