Stephanie Melodia of Bloom: Brand Makeovers: “Take into consideration the latest trends for relatability”

Take into consideration the latest trends for relatability. Sure, you are a leader; not a follower, but pay attention to the direction of trends and how they are reflecting the current sentiment of the marketplace — how the wider economic and political landscape is translating creatively via branding. As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I […]

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Take into consideration the latest trends for relatability. Sure, you are a leader; not a follower, but pay attention to the direction of trends and how they are reflecting the current sentiment of the marketplace — how the wider economic and political landscape is translating creatively via branding.

As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Stephanie Melodia, Founder & CEO of Bloom, a UK-based marketing agency dedicated to supporting early-stage, high-growth businesses, including the UK’s Top 5 startups. She has been named as one of the UK’s Top 20 Most Influential Female Founders by Startups Magazine and her agency’s work has been featured in the likes of The Independent and

True to her mission in supporting entrepreneurship, Stephanie also scouts for Ada Ventures, hosts the founder interview podcast, Time to Bloom, and presents biannual event series, Bloom Presents.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve been creative for as long as I can remember. I learnt to draw before anything else, and was always known as “the arty one” at school. Completely lost in terms of career direction in my teenage years, I decided to continue down the path of creativity and went to art school, where I eventually specialised in fashion illustration.

It wasn’t until the age of 22 when I got my first “proper job” at a gorgeous boutique creative agency in Clerkenwell, London, that my eyes were opened up to the whole world of business. There were so many things I was previously naive to; I perfectly remember visiting Coca-Cola’s head offices during my first week and that just blew my mind. Coke have offices?! What? Crazy times… It was this discovery that awakened my hunger to learn, to work, to take in as much as I could — and more. Within 3 months, I was promoted to Account Manager and a year or so later my role evolved again to have more of a sales and marketing function.

From there, I moved into advertising and then transitioned in-house for a big tech firm, before setting up my own company, Bloom.

Whilst I’ve always been creative and loved art, I knew I needed something more stimulating and that matched my energy — marketing was the answer.

I never knew what marketing was or how it worked until my early 20s, now I run a marketing agency.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing or branding mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Just posting stuff on Twitter and calling it social media marketing?! I think so many things would make me cringe looking back at my earlier years. A good sign of progress, but I like to look forwards 🙂

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?

Oh my god, yes!!! The tipping point was this year! I’d say around late spring/summertime, I started seeing certain things that had never happened before, that was sooooo exciting. For example, people were Googling my name to find the company website. People were reaching out to us as inbound leads. We were getting invited to huge pitches coming up against big competitors! People started sending in their CVs for jobs. People started commenting in offline conversations about all the things they were seeing online about us. And I was incredibly grateful to be named one of the UK’s Most Influential Female Founders. 2020 has been a good year for us at Bloom at least!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Absolutely, we don’t work on anything that we don’t find exciting or gets us fired up! It’s also a default of working in the high-growth tech space; all the entrepreneurs are building innovative solutions that help so many different aspects of our lives; from travel to jewellery, from finances to careers.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I’m not religious but this quote nails it.

Also focus on the things you love and proactively create the space for this; set yourself up for success to do what you do best. Everything is on an energy spectrum; there are things that drain you and things that lift your spirits; shift your daily activities to the latter.

Ok, let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

As Schmidt from New Girl puts it: “Advertising is a dog drinking beer… I am in marketing, the backbone of capitalism. Without it, you’d be dead in two days.”

On a slightly more serious note (!), I think the best explanation lies in ‘The Long & Short of it’ study by Les Binet and Peter Field, which indicates companies need both short-term sales activations for cash injections, and long-term brand building for overall growth via customer loyalty and even advocacy.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

Absolutely, and I’ll use the classic sales & marketing funnel to do this:

For those unfamiliar, the standard marketing funnel includes a high number of potential customers at the top — the biggest section. This is the Awareness layer — people who have heard of you at least vaguely in some way. Then as we move down “the leaky funnel” and progress to interest and consideration, people start dropping off. Most marketers believe these “leaks” should be minimized, personally I see these leaks as a positive, as you’re weeding out your irrelevant customers, so to say, and getting closer to your ideal client (especially where early-stage startups are concerned who are still figuring out their target audience).

Then we finally reach the point of conversion — this is the sale or the download. But there’s more. Beyond the funnel is loyalty and advocacy. This is achieved via both rational and emotional responses to your business; the latter emotional response lies in branding.

This is a longer process but totally worth it, as brand has been conclusively proven to be the single best factor in campaign effectiveness, customer loyalty, and overall longer-term growth.

Let’s now talk about rebranding. What are a few reasons why a company would consider rebranding?

Such a meaty topic, I love this one! Rebranding is a really exciting time for a company, and possible reasons to do this may include:

  • Modernizing the brand after the existing or previous one has become a little outdated;
  • Marking a pivotal time in the company’s story (e.g. most, if not all, our clients, go through a rebrand when working with us, as they’ve secured investment and it’s time to level up), or;
  • Reflecting a big change in the company such as an international expansion or company acquisition, for example

Are there downsides of rebranding? Are there companies that you would advise against doing a “Brand Makeover”? Why?

Yes, definitely. A few initial downsides of rebranding that spring to mind include not achieving enough internal buy-in to effectively execute it (brand needs to seep through every part of the business, so it’s vital to have everyone bought into the new vision), rebranding for rebranding’s sake, doing it too often, or risking alienating core customers in a bid to chase after new ones.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you share 5 strategies that a company can do to upgrade and re-energize their brand and image”? Please tell us a story or an example for each.

First thing’s first: get crystal clear on both your business vision and your target customer. These will lay the basic foundations for your new branding.

Secondly, depending on how long you’ve been around, consider your current perception in the marketplace and what your biggest “claims to fame” are.

For the UK’s Top 5 Startup, rectech firm Tempo, they were shaking up a previously faceless and painful recruitment experience but putting the control back in the employers’ and the candidates’ hands. We brought this to life via a bright and colourful new brand design with a constantly interchanging logo representing the individuality of people on the platform. (Led by our partner and incredible brand consultant, Steven Mzar).

Take into consideration the latest trends for relatability. Sure, you are a leader; not a follower, but pay attention to the direction of trends and how they are reflecting the current sentiment of the marketplace — how the wider economic and political landscape is translating creatively via branding.

The next point to consider is the history of the business as well as the people within it. I talked about lack of internal buy-in before, which can be so detrimental after investing a lot of time and money in a shiny new brand, so it’s imperative to get everyone on board and work as collaboratively as possible.

Finally, whilst prudent to take the new branding into testing for market feedback, it’s important to allow this to inform your decision-making; not be totally led by this.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job doing a “Brand Makeover”. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Amazon is a big, obvious example with the clever A -> Z device. More recently, I read about the MasterClass rebrand, which I love. As creators of a whole new category, “edutainment,” it stands to reason their branding would be equally innovative. I love the Frame branding too, created by a music agency called The Xreative Corporation. There are so many, I’d love to get stuck into months of reviewing to give a definitive answer!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Wow, big question. The most amount of good to the most amount of people lies in our next generations, so shaking up the education system and empowering teachers to help raise our future population I believe to be imperative.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You’re gonna die.” — Gary Vaynerchuk

A good reminder to not take life for granted, or too seriously, and to truly appreciate the immense awesomeness of being alive right now. (The chance of being born is 1 in 102,685,000 — that’s 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeroes!)

This is relevant to my life in so many ways — whether it comes to taking risks, saying yes to things, or reminding myself to have fun sometimes!

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram for fun stuff, LinkedIn for business 🙂

Thank you so much for these excellent insights! We wish you continued success in your work.

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