I love conferences. I really like it when opinionated people tell me about their ideas, and I like it when audiences get a bit feisty with their questions. I even love the way everyone says hello to your stomach instead of your face, because that's where your name and photo are swinging on the end of a lanyard.
All of which means I was quite excited about this year's Transform Conference Europe. Transform focus on the very best in brand transformation – the Conference during the day is a chance to hear from brand leaders from many different industries and countries, while the evening's Awards ceremony celebrates brand development, reputation management and rebranding.
Here are three things I've picked out from the Conference that I enjoyed:
1. Tone of voice should focus on spirit not specific words. Jon Hawkins, Head of Brand Language at BT, not only trains his call centre teams in the UK and India in BT's verbal identity, but has teams of tone of voice champions working in every department to identify and share good (and bad...) examples of the language they're using. He reckons it works well until there's a crisis - when it's human nature to default to a more formal, so-called "professional" tone.
2. The digital world is now briefing the physical world. Clive Woodger at SCG London described the challenges of creating shopping centre brands that have to wow business partners, tenants and customers over and over again. He talked about how consumers have started to drive retail development through their participation in social media conversations - and how an app is now the first experience of a shopping centre, rather than the actual visit.
3. Brands should think of social media as an ecosystem. Adrian Walcott, General Manager of Central Marketing at Eurostar has created a social media ecosystem that includes Instagram as a "trip inspirer" and Twitter as an "active concierge" sharing advice and solving problems. It's meant Eurostar can curate content about cities, invite communities to join in, and then edit those conversations before re-communicating to a wider audience.
The Conference was a good way of setting us up for the evening's Award ceremony. The months of labouring over our award submissions, reassuring expectant clients and sweating over table seating plans all came to a head in a few anxious hours. We knew that this year's Awards had attracted more entries than ever from across Europe, and that we'd need to work hard to stand out.
We were absolutely delighted to come away with 7 trophies for our work with Fitness First and One Feeds Two – including the coveted Grand Prix for Excellence in Brand Transformation for Fitness First. You can read more about our winning work here.
Thank you Transform Europe. I'll be back next year with my lanyard swinging.
Jules Griffith is Marketing Director at The Clearing