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Branding lesson: the power of a multi-sensory toolkit

Over the summer I decided to study for a new qualification. It’s on my agenda to build The Brand Symphony into online courses for marketers and I realised quickly that structuring material to enable learning is very different from writing a book or giving a presentation. So I took a foundation-level teaching qualification designed for people who want to teach or train adults in further education.

A central concept of teaching is making sure you engage learners who have different learning styles.  A key model, from Neil Fleming is the VARK model.  This tool helps you understand the mix of Visual, Auditory, Read/write and Kinaesthetic learning preferences of your students, so you can design more inclusive lessons.  Good teaching practice is to use a wide range of these throughout your lessons so that everyone can engage.  And to combine them together at important points – for example a visual presentation, spoken for the auditory people, with written notes for the read/write people and a practical ‘have a go’ exercise for kinaesthetic learners.

As part of the course I had to plan and deliver a micro-teach – a 15-minute branding lesson to a small group of adults. I chose to teach the basics of brand strategy and highlight some key tools a company might use to build their brand.

Since I didn’t know anything about the preferences of the students in the room, I chose material from the teaching course as common ground – and applied the VARK model to the brand toolkit.  It turned out to be a useful exercise, not only as a shortcut to help the branding lesson, but it also got me thinking about brands I’ve worked with.

Most businesses focus heavily on the Visual and Reading aspects of their brand; images, colours and copy.  Fewer focus on the auditory or kinaesthetic aspects:

  • What does your brand sound like?  This could be everything from hold music, to what your employees say and how they say it.  I’ve written before about the unintended cacophony of a brand that’s not joined up.
  • What does your brand feel like?  Retailers invest a lot in process for a reason – the ease with which you can navigate the store or how the products feel. But if you’re a service business, something as simple as the payment process or how difficult it is to park outside your office could reinforce or break the connection with your brand.

Perhaps have a look at your brand through this lens.  Not everyone will respond to visual or written cues to connect with you. 

The more you can build engagement with different styles and tools the better chance you have of engaging and keeping your customers.  Which is what a brand is there to do.

A useful branding lesson for us all.

Jill Pringle is a marketing consultant and published author of The Brand Symphony. She helps service-led businesses write, orchestrate and conduct their brand and marketing strategies.

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