December 12th 2017

The Do Lectures: How To Build a Brand

by Rich Milner

A couple of weeks back, I had the absolute pleasure of attending one of the Do Lectures! Now if you’d asked me last year what the Do lectures were, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. But after Martin attended David Hieatt's ‘How A Simple Newsletter Can Transform Your Business', I’ve been following them.

So, what are they?


The Do Lectures were created by Clare and David Hieatt in 2008 as a platform for Doers to get together and give talks about their business or talent. It’s talented people inspiring people like me to get up and Do something.

David Hieatt is a bit of legend in the branding game. He set up Howies back in 1994 with his wife Clare, and sold it in 2009 to Timberland. Their range of t-shirts were well renowned for great innovative designs. You wouldn’t think there were many more things you could do with a t-shirt apart from putting a nice print on it, but David managed to find a way. During the session he told the story of the 'Shoplifter' t-shirt the company produced during the first years of its existence. It had the word 'Shoplifter' printed on the front, then sewn within the label was an antitheft device that would trigger the security gates in shops. The t-shirt was a big hit. It had gotten so popular that it pretty much shut down Oxford Street (London), after setting off so many alarms. This was the point at which David received a call from London Metropolitan Police asking if he was responsible for it. All publicity is good publicity eh!?

The Do lectures | How to build a brand

The lecture I attended was ‘How to Build a Great Brand With Very Little Money’. From mine and Martin's collective experience of the lectures, David always seems to start off by asking all attendees to talk for 10 minutes about who they are and what they want to get out of the session. The group was a melting pot of entrepreneurs, business owners, mums returning to work and agency and client-side marketeers.

I won’t go into too much detail about the information in the lecture, because that’s David's IP, plus I don’t want you to feel like you don’t need to attend one because you DO, you really DO (see what I did there). It was a truly inspiring day. The way David speaks assures you that everyone can DO. You just need to get off your ass and actually DO it. A great analogy he used was an airline pilot at the pont of 'V1' speed - the point at which a pilot must commit to fly - or stop. A lot of people don’t get to this stage of their brand launching. It's too easy to put it off until next week. We let other things get in the way; we PROCRASTINATE. You’ve got to launch at some point, so we need to get up to that V1 speed and do it. If it’s not perfect for launch, don’t worry. Remember, feedback is the breakfast of champions (I might've stolen that from Martin), so if you need to tweak a few things after launch, you can. JUST TAKE OFF FIRST!

Do lectures brand


Now, apart from giving us lots of tips and ideas around how to best use our time and how to come up with new ideas, David also discussed the key principles of branding in today's climate.

It’s no longer a case of just making a great quality product and shouting about it from the rooftops. Why would people listen? They need something more; something to get behind; something to care about; something to be a part of. David’s passionate about it. He’s read the books, done it and gives his 20+ years' worth of first-hand experience of how he’s developed ideas, built brands and marketed his businesses. He’s pretty well placed to be talking about this stuff.

It won’t surprise you to hear that a brand with an emotive story, who are trying to change something for the better will always stand out more. They’ve got something that consumers can be a part of, something they can get behind, something to follow. So what is your brand trying to change? What does it stand for? Does it have a purpose? As it goes, this reflects one of our own brand values: "No story, no nothing." If you're really quite unsure of the purpose of your own brand, then maybe it’s time to DO something.

After the workshop, I felt absolutely inspired to go away and start my own agency!! Just kidding... But I did feel energised to produce great content, great brand messaging and beautiful creative for the clients we work with. It’s no longer a case of selling your brand at people. We need to have conversations, give them something back before we start asking them to buy all our products. Consumers want to be told a story. As Gary Vaynerchuk says “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right hook.” Give - and then ask.

I recommend the DO lectures to everyone who'll listen. Anyone who has aspirations to DO something - anything! No matter what industry, lifestyle or project, David will give you great learnings and advice to take away to start Doing. Just remember to:

  • Take off
  • Spend your time productively
  • Keep coming up with ideas
  • Love what you do
  • Change something
  • Tell a story
  • And keep on Doing!!

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