How a little black wrap dress saved my sanity

Brand + Business x Christine Moody*

IMG_8303

I have always been a self-starter, what people now call an entrepreneur. I was running my own businesses before I even graduated from university. Still, I remember being very nervous about launching my first ‘real’ company the year after I graduated.

My father asked me, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” When I shrugged my shoulders he answered, “You fail and have to go and work for someone, but think of all the experience you will have!”

That was the start of my journey into the business world.

Over thirty years later, and I am still working away on different and varied projects.

Being an entrepreneur makes life very interesting. Over the years, I have been involved in many varied businesses. I love the thrill the start up and seeing the vision come to life. It’s sort of like having a lab where you can play away without having to answer to anyone!

Being an entrepreneur makes life
very interesting.

A couple of years ago, I launched a fashion start up “The Wrap Dress” to distract me during a very stressful time. I wanted to see how far the idea of the wrap dresses could go as a business and in doing so, saved my sanity.

The concept for the start up grew from a corporate sewing group affectionately known as ‘Stitch ’n’ Bitch’! I made my first Wrap Dress in the group as a versatile staple that I could dress up or down for any occasion. I wanted a dress that could get me out the door faster, and still look and feel as fresh and crisp at the end of the day as I did at the start—something that would have me looking and feeling good, wherever my day took me.

I chose the Wrap Dress style for its simplicity and versatility, and something that would perfectly suit the busy, outgoing women in our group. I also chose a stretch fabric that I later discovered was typically used in swimwear.

It turned out that the dress perfectly suited the everyday/everywhere/everybody style of garment. I kept refining the design and make, ending up with a beautiful, comfortable, durable, versatile Wrap Dress. Then a friend wanted one. Then another. Then friends of friends, then people I’d never met. I was wrapped in a great idea and felt it had the potential as a business.

Launching the start up gave me a great opportunity to explore the design and manufacturing processes as well as work collaboratively with textile fabric suppliers, pattern makers, sewers, and logistics. All fields that I knew nothing about. Due to my naivety in the field, I had to ask so many questions and people were so willing to help me and to guide me in the right direction!

While completing my Masters Research thesis last year meant putting the dresses aside for a few months, I am once again onto ‘Project: The Wrap Dress’. I want to see how far I can push this business and to see how much I can learn along the way.

How you can apply innovation to your organisation

When I was at D.School (Stanford University), I spoke to Claudia Kotchka about her time as VP at Procter & Gamble (P&G). I wanted to know how she was able to focus such a large organisation, with thousands of products and thousands of employees, on innovation. Claudia told me, “One product at a time.”

Claudia didn’t try and change everything at P&G at once. Instead, she started slowly and built the organisation’s confidence in innovation. There were several reasons why Claudia was so successful:

>   Claudia had direct access to the Executive Chairman and Board

>   She created a non-competing innovation group that included other innovative organisations such as 3M

>   She started with a product team that understood that they had to change how things were done

>   Case studies were presented to the organisation so they could see what the potential for the future.

From my experience, innovation is not a one-off thing, it is a way of thinking and a way of ensuring that your organisation is constantly evolving and innovating. Sometimes things don’t work out, but the ‘learnings’ can be brought to the next project.

What innovative project are going to start working on today?

*Christine Moody is one of Australia’s leading brand strategists and the founder brand management consultancy, Brand Audits. With more than 30 years’ professional experience, Christine has helped a diverse client base of local and international brands, including Gold Coast City Council, Hilton Hotels, and Wrigleys USA, to develop, protect and achieve brand differentiation. Her particular interest is personal brand audits to assist executives realise their full potential.

For more information: chris.moody@brandaudits.com.au or +61 419 888 468.

Also see TheWrapDress.com.au

Going Viral: Social Media, IP, and Branding

IMG_6172

Brand + Business x Christine Moody*

The rise of social media is making it more difficult to understand and protect your organisation’s intellectual property (IP) and brand reputation. However, in this new digital world, your brand is more important and valuable than ever before.

Some of the more intangible IP aspects of your organisation are associated with its brand, the brand experience and logo design. These include patents, trademarks, copyright, business methodologies, good will and brand recognition. This is important IP that can add immense value to your business. According to a recent report by Fortune Magazine, organisations need to pay attention to their intangible assets, with the value of the intangible assets in S&P top 500 companies rising from 17% of total assets in 1975 to 84% in 2015!

In the article,‘Defence Strategy’ (published in the latest edition of the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Company Director), Domini Stuart says this issue will be particularly important with the Federal Government’s $1 billion dollar innovation initiative. He says: “the board must understand how IP can create value.”

Stuart goes on to say that: “Directors should be aware of which components, systems, or processes set them apart from their competitors and drive the value of the company.”

So just how do you understand your brand and protect it today’s digital world?

1) Stand out in the crowd—define your brand

Differentiating your organisation begins with your brand. Many people make the mistake of thinking that their brand starts with a beautifully designed logo and website, but it doesn’t.

Your brand starts with your unique story. Why are you in business? What problem is your organisation solving? This is your organisation’s ‘WHY’ and it forms your organisation’s brand story.

The brand story is central to all your organisation’s decisions. It informs which clients you target, retail locations, products and services as well as staff. It is also used to inform our differentiated brand ecosystem—everything that your organisation ‘says’ and ‘does’.

The tools you use to communicate your brand, such as Facebook, will evolve and change over time, but your brand story never changes. It remains unique to your organisation.

2) Develop a brand strategy for your brand online

Organisations need to make their brand highly visible online. Unfortunately, the increasing number of social media platforms and the hype around them has created confusion. As a result, many organisations are forfeiting their brand strategy.

Your brand strategy is the ‘glue’ that holds the brand ecosystem together. And understanding how to use social media platforms to tell your brand story is crucial.

Social media is just another communication tool and it needs to be considered in the bigger picture rather than as a separate ‘thing’. It is no different from the other communication tools your organisation uses.

Your brand strategy is the ‘glue’ that holds the brand ecosystem together. And understanding how to use social media platforms to tell your brand story is crucial.

What is important is how you interpret the brand across all the social media platforms. You need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each platform and then use them to tell your brand story consistently. That is, understand the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn and how to use both effectively inline with your brand story.

To leverage your brand in the social media space, the starting point is to create a framework for social media that includes the ‘WHY’, the brand strategy, and three key messages for that organisation, along with the types of stories that support your brand story.

Whatever you do and whatever platform is used you have to tell an authentic story and give your clients and potential clients, information that is useful versus just selling them something!

3) Make sure your staff know your brand

The best brand strategy will fall apart unless your staff: ‘get it’. Your team is your best brand advocate (or the worst if they don’t know what it is). I regularly conduct brand audits for clients and often find that most of the staff doesn’t know the company history or what the company’s brand stands for. Don’t fall into this trap. Make sure your brand strategy is included as an important part of staff orientation and that there is ongoing internal communications training.

4) Legally protect your brand online—trade mark and copyright issues 

Organisations need to consider online as part of the brand ecosystem—online (website and social media) + offline (brochures, retail fit out, uniforms).

Working with clients, I frequently discover their valuable brand IP is not protected, particularly logos and brand names. Often clients are reluctant to seek a trade mark registration because of time or cost or both. They just want to get on with business!

I advise clients to protect their brand IP as soon as possible. It can get harder to do this as the company grows and can be a nightmare if company is being sold! Another great risk organisations take in not protecting their brand identity is that someone else registers the rights.

Tips for protecting your brand identity

  • Prior to trade mark registration check availability of the website name by checking both domain registration (I suggest registering both .com + .au) and ASIC business name registration.
  • Before choosing an entity name, check in with an IP lawyer to find out the likelihood of the name being successfully registered.
  • Work with an IP lawyer to check potential trademark registration issues prior to commencing any brand identity, logo or artwork design. (I like to work with an IP lawyer in the early stages that is, when I am preparing the brief for the brand’s identity. I get an understanding of the type of business now and what where it hopes to be in the future so all IP classes can be considered.)
  • Conduct regular brand audits to reveal new IP and check previously registered IP.
  • Have a process in place to ensure that any new brand elements (such as product names) are checked and registered.
  • Have processes and policies in place to ensure that all materials used are within the rights usage—while this was important for offline materials in the past this is more important than ever before in the online world!

5) Maintain the visual integrity of your brand

The way your brand looks online is important. You run the risk of degrading your brand visually if employees reproduce the brand identity logo themselves or authorise an external supplier to do so.

Overcome this risk by documenting everything into a set of brand guidelines and communicate the guidelines throughout the organisation. This ensures the logo, colours and fonts are used in the way for which they were designed. It also helps to audit your brand and ensures brand guidelines are regularly updated and distributed.

Both your Board and CEO need to be educated on the importance of the brand guidelines so that they “talk the talk and walk the walk” as brand ambassadors.

6) Using freebies online? Check you will still own the copyright

There has been a rapid growth of online materials and ‘free’ templates to use for promotional campaigns and other brand building initiatives. There are also many popular online tools to use for creating websites, including WordPress. (WordPress is one of the most popular online, open source website creation tools because it is easy to use and you don’t have to be a coder!) However, with any of these great tools, you need to check the fine print as you may not own the content you are uploading.

Note: This article is a condensed version of a presentation I gave as part of Legalwise’s Intellectual Property Law Roundup.

*Christine Moody is one of Australia’s leading brand strategists and the founder brand management consultancy, Brand Audits. With more than 30 years’ professional experience, Christine has helped a diverse client base of local and international brands, including Gold Coast City Council, Hilton Hotels, and Wrigleys USA, to develop, protect and achieve brand differentiation. Her particular interest is personal brand audits to assist executives realise their full potential.

For more information: chris.moody@brandaudits.com.au or +61 419 888 468.

Photo credit: Shoe drawing from MOMA exhibition—Andy Warhol: Campbell’s Soup Cans and Other Works, 1953-1967 (By Christine Moody, NYC 2015).

 

Entrepreneurship: making your own magic in business

Brand + Business x Christine Moody*

TheWrapDress-230514-32

So, it’s 2016. A chance to renew and refocus. To reflect. To give thanks for what’s gone and what’s to come. To stop putting excuses in the way of your dreams because life’s like that. You’ve got to make your own magic. Emma Isaacs

This is a quote from Emma Isaacs, in the latest edition of Latte magazine. Emma is the Founder and Global CEO of Business Chicks. Her words struck a cord with me, particularly the last line, “You’ve got to make your own magic.”

To be a successful entrepreneur, there’s no doubt you need to be innovative. However, you also need to translate your innovative ideas into reality. Combining the two, well that’s making your own ‘magic’.

You have to do more than feel magic. You alone are responsible for making the magic. You can’t wait for the perfect time, you just do it. You make it a priority and spend time on it every single day. You stay focused. You create a purpose around your idea and a ‘why’ and make it happen.

It is a mindset. You have a business idea—whether it’s a new product or service or even improving a simple online form—and you set about changing it and making it better.

I’ve had several “you’ve got to make your own magic” times in my life; times when I’ve had to make a conscious choice to trust my instincts, harness my idea and turn into a business.

One was creating my company, The Wrap Dress. The concept for this business grew from need. I had a hectic international travel schedule and I often went straight to a meeting from the airport. I needed an outfit that looked great with sneakers on the flight and professional with heels at the other end of the trip. But couldn’t find what I needed.

So I made my first Wrap Dress. It was a versatile staple that I could dress up or down for any occasion. It allowed me to get out the door faster, and still look and feel as fresh and crisp from morning ‘til night. I chose an Italian stretch fabric that I later discovered was used in swimwear. As it turned out, the material perfectly suited the everyday/everywhere/everybody style of garment.

I loved my dress and so did my friends. First one friend wanted one. Then another. Then friends of friends. Then people I’d never met.

I launched the Wrap Dress online in 2014—quietly as a prototype with only one garment.

It was daunting and a risk because I don’t have a fashion, pattern making or professional sewing background. Instead I asked lots of questions and found skilled people to work with. I didn’t wait for the ‘right time’, I got stuck in and made my own magic!

How are you going to make your own magic?

*Christine Moody is one of Australia’s leading brand strategists and the founder brand management consultancy, Brand Audits. With more than 30 years’ professional experience, Christine has helped a diverse client base of local and international brands, including Gold Coast City Council, Hilton Hotels, and Wrigleys USA, to develop, protect and achieve brand differentiation. Her particular interest is personal brand audits to assist executives realise their full potential.

For more information: chris.moody@brandaudits.com.au or +61 419 888 468.

Photo credit: Matt Palmer 

How to get the best work from your Designers

Brand + Business x Christine Moody*

How to get the best work from Designers? Step One: Back Off!
 
Earlier this week I shared The New York Times’ article, ‘How to Raise a Creative Child. Step One: Back Off’ on my social media sites. This article resonated with me because I see kids pushed to far towards maths and science to the detriment of creative pursuits but also because ‘Creativity’—is Design—is often under appreciated. While the article was clearly aimed at pushy parents it also contained many lessons for clients working with Designers. The reason I am writing this is not to criticise clients in any way, but to allow them to see ‘the other side’ and how they can achieve the best possible results for their businesses when working with Designers.
Creativity may be hard to nurture, but it’s easy to thwart.
One of the most standout comments from the article was, “Creativity may be hard to nurture, but it’s easy to thwart”. Clients may be unaware that they get the most value and the best outcomes when they treat Designers as the professionals they are, and leave Designers to do their job. Put aside the fact that most Designers are highly educated with broad, ‘real life’ experiences, clients are paying the Designer to bring in expertise that they do not possess. Clients therefore need to give Designers the freedom to do the job they are paying them to do.
Designer’s value add by immersing themselves in the business, thinking deeply about the problem outside of day-to-day operations, and creating original designs that communicates the business strategy. In a commercial world, working with professional Designers allow client’s businesses to achieve their objectives ie, to perhaps attract external funding (crowdsourcing or traditional banks); to assist in creating new markets; to allow them to stand out in a crowded marketplace; to attract the best staff and the best clients; and to create value in the business when it’s sold. If a Designer’s role is to simply to reproduce a more refined design of a client’s idea the client would be happy, but the clients are not getting the best possible outcome. Instead they are getting ‘paint by numbers’ and an under-utilised design resource.
Getting the best outcome is all about getting the brief right before commencing the project. The brief does not solve the problem but outlines what is known about the product or service at the time of writing. The best briefs are created together—with all stakeholders present—with the final outcome presented in the context of this brief. It’s about working together via work in progress meetings to see the development as the solution reveals itself and to gain an understanding of the thinking behind the design. It is not an aesthetic decision, but instead, a strategic decision. Design is a combination of creative freedom within the constraints of technical and budget reality overlaid with a strategic focus.
If there is one thing I know for sure, the more the clients leave the design to the Designers, the better the result. So remember—and I say this in the most respectful way…please clients, “Back Off”!
 

*Christine Moody is one of Australia’s leading brand strategists and the founder brand management consultancy, Brand Audits. With more than 30 years’ professional experience, Christine has helped a diverse client base of local and international brands, including Gold Coast City Council, Hilton Hotels, and Wrigleys USA, to develop, protect and achieve brand differentiation. Her particular interest is personal brand audits to assist executives realise their full potential.

For more information: chris.moody@brandaudits.com.au or +61 419 888 468.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/christinejanemoody

How a little black wrap dress saved my sanity

Brand + Business x Christine Moody*

IMG_8303

I have always been a self-starter, what people now call an entrepreneur. I was running my own businesses before I even graduated from university. Still, I remember being very nervous about launching my first ‘real’ company the year after I graduated.

My father asked me, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” When I shrugged my shoulders he answered, “You fail and have to go and work for someone, but think of all the experience you will have!”

That was the start of my journey into the business world.

Over thirty years later, and I am still working away on different and varied projects.

Being an entrepreneur makes life very interesting. Over the years, I have been involved in many varied businesses. I love the thrill the start up and seeing the vision come to life. It’s sort of like having a lab where you can play away without having to answer to anyone!

A couple of years ago, I launched a fashion start up “The Wrap Dress” to distract me during a very stressful time. I wanted to see how far the idea of the wrap dresses could go as a business and in doing so, saved my sanity.

The concept for the start up grew from a corporate sewing group affectionately known as ‘Stitch ’n’ Bitch’! I made my first Wrap Dress in the group as a versatile staple that I could dress up or down for any occasion. I wanted a dress that could get me out the door faster, and still look and feel as fresh and crisp at the end of the day as I did at the start—something that would have me looking and feeling good, wherever my day took me.

I chose the Wrap Dress style for its simplicity and versatility, and something that would perfectly suit the busy, outgoing women in our group. I also chose a stretch fabric that I later discovered was typically used in swimwear.

It turned out that the dress perfectly suited the everyday/everywhere/everybody style of garment. I kept refining the design and make, ending up with a beautiful, comfortable, durable, versatile Wrap Dress. Then a friend wanted one. Then another. Then friends of friends, then people I’d never met. I was wrapped in a great idea and felt it had the potential as a business.

Launching the start up gave me a great opportunity to explore the design and manufacturing processes as well as work collaboratively with textile fabric suppliers, pattern makers, sewers, and logistics. All fields that I knew nothing about. Due to my naivety in the field, I had to ask so many questions and people were so willing to help me and to guide me in the right direction!

While completing my Masters Research thesis last year meant putting the dresses aside for a few months, I am once again onto ‘Project: The Wrap Dress’. I want to see how far I can push this business and to see how much I can learn along the way.

How you can apply innovation to your organisation

When I was at D.School (Stanford University), I spoke to Claudia Kotchka about her time as VP at Procter & Gamble (P&G). I wanted to know how she was able to focus such a large organisation, with thousands of products and thousands of employees, on innovation. Claudia told me, “One product at a time.”

Claudia didn’t try and change everything at P&G at once. Instead, she started slowly and built the organisation’s confidence in innovation. There were several reasons why Claudia was so successful:

>   Claudia had direct access to the Executive Chairman and Board

>   She created a non-competing innovation group that included other innovative organisations such as 3M

>   She started with a product team that understood that they had to change how things were done

>   Case studies were presented to the organisation so they could see what the potential for the future.

From my experience, innovation is not a one-off thing, it is a way of thinking and a way of ensuring that your organisation is constantly evolving and innovating. Sometimes things don’t work out, but the ‘learnings’ can be brought to the next project.

What innovative project are going to start working on today?

*Christine Moody is one of Australia’s leading brand strategists and the founder brand management consultancy, Brand Audits. With more than 30 years’ professional experience, Christine has helped a diverse client base of local and international brands, including Gold Coast City Council, Hilton Hotels, and Wrigleys USA, to develop, protect and achieve brand differentiation. Her particular interest is personal brand audits to assist executives realise their full potential.

For more information: chris.moody@brandaudits.com.au or +61 419 888 468.

Also see TheWrapDress.com.au