This fall, we are putting the spotlight on alumni of our Brand The Change Trainers’ Programme. I always jokingly refer to our trainers as ‘my snowflakes’: entirely unique people, with widely different cultural backgrounds, levels of experience and fields of expertise. This week, I talk to Romas Stukenberg, the co-founder of design agency NameName, one of the brains behind Artistic Intelligence and the Creative Leadership Salon. Romas took part in the second Brand The Change Trainer’s Programme in 2018.
Q: Can you describe what your professional practice looked like before you discovered the tools and joined the programme?
My brand consultancy practice was a bit of a patchwork in terms of tools, always in progress and mostly tailor-made towards specific client needs. New projects used to serve as vehicles to explore new approaches.
Q: Can you describe what difference the tools and method have made for your professional practice?
I learned the Brand the Change method during a time when we streamlined our business and approach to gain more focus and compactness. The tools and method thereby became a kind of baseline for our brand consultancy services, especially when it comes to workshops and co-creation. My feeling is that our process opened up: it became easier to engage clients more profoundly in the branding process. This increased trust and ownership of the outcome and thus the overall quality of our work.
Q: What type of client do you work with?
Our clients are rather diverse and range from small companies (with around 20 people) to German Mittelstand (with more than 50m € revenue p.a.). They come from industries such as health technology, professional services, the non-profit sector or even luxury products and so on. However, we generally prefer to start with a business strategy briefing (commissioned by top leadership) as opposed to a traditional marketing briefing. Brand fundamentally is a leadership tool, not merely an amplifier of sales.
Q: How will a stronger brand help them?
It still is true that a strong brand drives business by strengthening customer loyalty and allowing for more premium prices for products etc. But besides that, it gradually becomes a matter of survival for businesses to know answers on all dimensions of value creation instead of just looking for the bottom line.
People will want to know what makes a company meaningful for them whether they work there or buy its products. And society wants to know how a company relates to our planet: does it mitigate our ecological crisis or rather benefits from exploiting and destroying the earth?
Thus brand has to have an impact on many levels in order to be successful. To us, this fundamentally means that brand starts internally. A branding process will help a company to make sense of what role it wants to play in this world and equips it with language to express this and tools to make it happen.
Q: What does your process look like?
We dub ourselves Creative Partners which already pretty much indicates what a process looks like: first of all a close relationship has to be formed by working together hand in hand with our clients on making sense of what the company’s DNA exactly is, by analyzing and thinking together — mostly in workshops and especially in the beginning with Brand the Change tools. Later in the process, once things are crisp and clear we will blend into more and more desk work, also in collaboration with required partners or experts.
Q: Can you share an extra special moment in a collaboration?
Once someone I worked for started to cry during a presentation because she felt that her vision was so well expressed in our concept. This woman who was a Co-CEO of a company we worked for felt heard, understood and elevated. This has been a powerful moment for us. In general, I always tend to look for those moments in which people suddenly get that sparkle in their eyes.
Q: What is your favorite tool from Brand The Change and why?
This must clearly be the ladder. I just have to confess that I adapted it a little bit by aligning its four layers with four additional questions that touch the topics profit, people, planet and poetry. What I like about the ladder is that I consider it the best way to model a businesses purpose. Purpose to me is when a company found its authentic and honest position on all four layers of the ladder. It appears to be a simple tool but I rarely worked with clients who were able to ’climb it’ on their first try.
I use the Brand the Change tools as a red thread that comprises the essentials and along the journey, I dig a little deeper into specific topics by using additional tools, especially when it comes to strategy or USP in rather complex companies.
Q: Can you share one ‘PRO’ tip on training with the tools?
I care more and more about helping our clients appropriate the way of thinking behind Brand The Change, instead of merely applying the tools in workshops as a means to harvest the ingredients of a brand concept. Ideally, a client will keep working with the tools after I finished my job.
Find Romas online
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