Many businesses are evolving in new and fascinating ways by taking advantage of the virtual world while we’re stuck indoors. Douglas Spencer of Spencer Brenneman is here to help keep your brand messaging in line.
“I help organizations really come to terms with and articulate who they are at their core. I help find what makes them relevant and different from all of the other choices that people have. Then, I find the best ways to bring all of that to life,” Douglas explains.
“We are offering to help nonprofits and small businesses with their messaging for free,” he adds. “We’re really trying to make what we do available to people who need it most.”
Douglas leads a virtual team of passionate creatives and strategic thinkers who work together to help bring brands to life. That often involves creating a brand from scratch, bringing brands together into a cohesive identity, or giving your existing brand the flexibility it needs to evolve in a growing market.
“My goals for the next few months involve streamlining the process we already have in place and helping organizations figure out who they’re going to be post-COVID-19. When whatever new normal arrives, I want to help as many organizations be as ready as possible,” Douglas says. “I think that there’s a lot of work that we can do now to prepare folks for that eventuality.”
Douglas is taking the time to think carefully about what a new normal means for his own business as well. “I’ve been doing a lot of reading and working with a coach myself to determine how I can be of most use to the people I try to serve.”
Brand Messaging: Your Company’s DNA
Brand messaging is far more intricate than merely a logo or tagline. Branding is the DNA of your organization. It’s something that lets you focus and helps you connect with the people most important to your success. Brand messaging also makes it easier for you to get the kind of attention that your organization really needs.
When Douglas initially meets with a new client, his first goal involves unearthing what their problem really is. He asks, “What are they really trying to solve?” Most times, people might say that they want a new website or a new logo. However, what they really want is for people to understand what their organization really does.
“I try to dig down to find out what challenges they’re facing when it comes to connecting with the people who are important to their success,” Douglas says. “What is the thing that’s preventing them from connecting with those people – whether that’s employees, customers, or donors if they’re not-for-profit, or members if they’re an association?”
This experience is sometimes just as rewarding for Douglas as it is for his clients.
“I once worked with a business owner and his direct reports. We had gone over the research we had done leading up to our workshop on articulating their company’s true promise, purpose, and differentiation. At one point during this workshop, I actually saw him fall back in love with what he does for a living and why he started his company,” Douglas says. “It was a really poignant moment for me. It is satisfying to see that on somebody’s face, to see a flame reignited that had dimmed a bit over the years.”
Ideal Clients and the Gig Economy
Before starting Spencer Brenneman, Douglas worked in marketing in the financial sector. When the large corporation he worked for went through a massive acquisition, he got the opportunity to manage the new brand that formed as a result of the merger.
“It was that point where everything just started to click. I had an aptitude for it, and I really enjoyed it, so I thought all right, this is good. I can do this,” Douglas says. “Branding spoke to all of my interests, spoke to all of my experience, and was both strategic and creative, so that’s how I ended up in branding.”
Nowadays, ideal clients for Spencer Brenneman are organizations that have a broader purpose beyond just making money.
“There’s nothing wrong with making money, but I want to work with organizations that want to add something back that is a bit more intangible than just employment and shareholder value,” he says. “I have an interesting background that includes a lot of experience in for-profit work and a lot of experience in not-for-profit work. I see how to bring the best from each to the other.”
The Virtue or Virtual
Douglas’ team includes marketing, PR, and social media strategists, art directors, web and graphic designers, and writers – all of which are gig workers.
“I think that’s a great model because the gig economy is such a powerful economic force. The people that I work with on behalf of my clients aren’t people that are moonlighting. They’re not people who are just doing this in-between jobs. It’s a way of life that they have chosen, and they are working and living on their own terms. I think that brings a very special dynamic to the engagement,” Douglas says.
This virtual model also allows Douglas and his team to break physical barriers. While Douglas himself is based in Boston, he and his team can work with people and businesses anywhere, irrespective of their location.