Synergy of Branding and Marketing: Breaking Down the Brand's Life Cycle

Pavel Flégl has been at the helm of FLO Brand Experience for over a year now. During this time, the team has crafted and nurtured international brands, notably orchestrating highly effective and distinctive communications campaigns.

In our conversation with Pavel, we will delve into the genesis of the partnership with FLO. We'll also explore the team's makeup and gain a sneak peek of what's on the horizon for 2024.

Pavel Flégl

How was the Brand Experience studio, part of the FLO consulting firm, founded?

After years of working in communications agencies, we got to a point where we realised that the concept of traditional creative and content agencies has yet to provide what brands need these days. Or rather, they only focus on a specific part of it. We started talking about a more strategic approach to the importance of connecting branding and communication. This idea is behind the concept of our BX studio, which we call "A New Era Brand Consultancy Boutique."

What are the main differences between your approach and how traditional agencies operate?

It's important to understand that brands go through a particular life cycle. This cycle is divided into five parts - Development, Introduction, Growth, Maturity, and Decline. Compared to traditional creative agencies, we focus thoroughly on the first part, creating the brand architecture.

"We help clients define their DNA, build distinctive assets, codify them, and maintain consistency across all channels and markets."

At the opposite end of the cycle then starts the "Decline" phase. The brand is no longer aspirational; sales stagnate or even decline. Many influences, both external and internal, can cause this. The answer to re-launch may be a change in communication platform or a brand redesign, but often, it is necessary to go much deeper - into the product or service itself. And it is precisely this "innovative provocation" that my BX team and our colleagues from the Consulting department are perfectly prepared for.

How long can such a brand life cycle last?

Every brand does it differently. Generally speaking, the cycles are more extended in quiet times, and the Growth and Maturity phases last for years. Lately, however, society, the economy, geopolitics, and even our way of approaching work have been going through a series of permanent transformations. The constant change and daily technological and social revolution create new product and service opportunities. At the same time, existing brands are challenged daily by questions of relevance and customer loyalty. That's why brand differentiation and long-term brand building are of far greater importance today than in the past.

You say the link between branding and marketing is the key; how do you understand their roles within BX?

Marketing is a short-term communication discipline with immediate impact. In contrast, branding is a long-term activity that the brand creates, but the final image is put together by the people themselves from all the inputs. I like how the best selling author and brand specialist Marty Neumeier describes the relationship. He says that marketing around you & across formats shouts, "I'm the best product; buy me", whereas branding makes people themselves think, "This product is the best; I'll buy it." We aim to get the two disciplines right and connect them to create a synergistic effect that dramatically impacts sales and long-term loyalty.

Aligning branding with marketing under one roof requires a lot of different expertise. How is the team doing a year after you joined?

In that time, the team has grown from nine original members to just under 30, and we're still growing organically. We have consultants, strategists, designers with different specialisations, creatives, content creators, and, judging by client feedback, a perfectly built client success team. We involve external entities or freelancers according to the specific assignment and client’s needs. We've grown to a size where we can no longer do without structure and perfectly functional operations, but we still retain the startup mentality and drive. It's been an incredible ride.

So, what can you and your team within BX offer your clients?

To cover the needs of brands across all phases of the lifecycle, we divide competencies internally into three pillars - Brand Building, led by Ondřej Vataščin; Branded Content under the leadership of Martin Navrátil and a newly built post internally called Comms where Petr Kroupa is in the role of the head.

"The key is always the initiation workshop with the client when we identify the needs and build the team."

Which clients do you focus on?

It's different in each pillar. In Brand Building, we work primarily with brands with a global reach. Companies planning to enter a new market or expand into a new region. We focus on premium local brands or clients operating within EMEA within Branded Content. In Comms, we target solid global brands with a presence in the Czech market. If one thing unites our clients, it is their "challenger mindset" - the desire to constantly ask "why" and do bold things.

What about you and trends? How has the global wave of AI engulfed you?

Probably as much as everyone else. We see AI tools as great helpers during the actual creation process. Who doesn't use ChatGPT or generate images as if they don't exist today? It is a standard that will keep shifting.

"Regarding brand implementation, we see the biggest pitfalls in adopting the tone-of-voice brand."

That's why my colleagues and team from FLO Data created our Tone Guardian product. An AI translator with simple controls into which you insert values, brand personality, narrative, and all the rules for tone-of-voice creation. Users then type in what they want to say, and Tone Guardian will show them what the message would sound like from their brand's mouth. We've beta-tested the product and are ready to onboard new clients.

What's been the most rewarding thing you've done all year?

There's a lot, but our team is at the heart of it all. Huge diversity in terms of talent, nationalities, generations, or affiliations in different communities. When you realise that there is no such thing as one "universal truth" but that there are always many more, you suddenly have an environment that inspires, motivates, and creates momentum for incredible projects. Best of all, this is true not only for us at BX but for the entire FLO group.

You've done a hell of a job in only one year. What's coming up in the next one?

We already see several opportunities within the pillars that we are excited about and want to pursue more deeply. Whether it's our TikTok production, a VR product for premium real estate clients, live brand experiences, or a team specialising in sonic identity. There are plenty of possibilities, and we are already working hard with the team on this. Like this year, we plan to continue growing with the brands we look after. And if any of them want to have us by their side in their expansion abroad, we wouldn't miss a beat.

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Our growth and expansion are backed by Rockaway, one of the largest investment groups in the CEE region.

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