OK, here goes. After much soul-searching – and the odd glass or two of wine – I’m finally admitting my little secret to the world.
I’m a knitter. A crafter. A Martha Stewart, if you like (without the whole insider trading thing). Call me what you will, but I take balls of yarn and fashion them into artistic masterpieces – albeit often in the vein of abstract expressionism or surrealism, as someone recently pointed out to me. Bless his expressive woollen socks.
Through this process of self-discovery, I’ve come to the realisation that knitting and branding have a lot in common. Now, now, hear me out.
Before I pick up my favourite knitting needles, I need to know what I’m going to make. Even for something simple like a scarf, I start with the end in mind. Always. Will it be long or short? Is it multicoloured and textured with ribbing? Or is it a single colour and in plain stocking stitch? Will it have fringing at the end?
The same applies when clients seek our advice about branding – from brand strategy and identity development through to brand refreshes and rebranding. New brands. Established brands. Tired brands. Lost brands. Whatever the situation, there is no point trying to build, fix or rebuild a brand if you don’t know what the big picture is. You may as well knit with one hand, much like the person who made this:
Next come strategy and direction. What sort of wool am I going to make this scarf from: 3-ply hand-shorn alpaca wool or 8-ply machine-made acrylic wool? How many colours do I need and how many balls of each colour? What size needles? What type of stitch? It just so happens that all of this information is neatly summed up in the knitting pattern, including a picture of the finished product. And as the saying goes, a pattern in the hand is worth ten balls of wool. OK, I just made that up, but my point is that a brand without vision and strategy is lost even before it gets started.
And now a word of warning: in branding as in knitting, heed the ‘tension square’.
When I began knitting, I hated tension squares. The concept of first knitting a small section of the pattern (ostensibly to check my tension and thus whether I should knit more or less stitches than the pattern stated), only to pull it apart, did not appeal to me. But suffice it to say that after producing several muffin-top-inducing items – I’m a tight knitter – I quickly realised that one pattern definitely doesn’t fit all.
And what do you know? It’s the same for brands. Excuse the pun, but you simply cannot apply one blanket strategy to multiple brands and expect that you’ll end up with the same result. It just doesn’t happen. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but do need to CUSTOMISE. Always.
And then, finally, we arrive at the exciting part of the entire process. The crafting. The building. Piecing it all together. Knitting one, pearling one, knitting one. Seeing your project take shape and come to life. But always remembering to pay attention to detail when executing your strategy, for even the best patterns can unravel.