David Wisnom III on Being Relevant in Branding

David Wisnom III on Being Relevant in Branding

Students in Professor Deborah Brown McCabe’s Integrated Marketing Communications class had an opportunity to learn about brand strategy from one of the top design experts in the nation’s leading design capital. David Wisnom III, founder and principal of SightCast Inc., a branding strategy and marketing communications firm, spoke to Menlo College students about the essence of brand strategy.

Wisnom’s background in branding development covers the spectrum of brands, such as Varian Medical Systems, Microsoft, Kellogg’s, Mechanics Bank, Wagner SprayTech, Intuit, McDonald’s, Gatorade, and Coca-Cola.

In the course of his 25-year career, David has worked closely with, among others, industry icons Walter Landor and Primo Angeli, who mentored his professional development.

Wisnom began his presentation with a quote from a global leader in brand consulting and design, Walter Landor. “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.”

Wisnom pointed out that, “A brand is a promise.” He analyzed what that meant in a series of graphs, using marketing terms such as value proposition, vision, mission, positioning statement, brand essence, core brand truths, ranked value, and audience core desires. He categorized terms under verbal brand, visual brand, and experiential brand. He asked the students, “Can you distill your brand down to one word?” To illustrate his point, he gave examples such as Disney = magic, and Apple = simplicity.

David referred to his work at Huntington Hospital, The Mechanics Bank, and Varian to illustrate their messaging’s evolution from a scattered, inconsistent appearance to an aesthetically pleasing, unified, clear branding strategy. He included the importance of research, focus groups, and reaching out to others to ensure that the idea creates communal value by aligning brand strategy to support business strategy.

Students had many questions about how long the branding process takes (it varies) and what if the CEO doesn’t like the proposed branding (it sometimes happens). Wisnom’s presentation was a compelling first-hand account of the architecture of messaging and what can be found in the details of text, visuals, and user experience.

Wisnom emphasized that when you plan for brand strategy, make sure you have brand elasticity. “Don’t build for today, build for the future. Be relevant first. Then be different.”