Web & Brand: The most interesting parts of Karel Novotný and Jan Řezáč’s lecture

Web consultant Jan Řezáč and brand-building specialist Karel “Mindless” Novotný proved that good design and brand building always start with questions, right down to the basics of your business. It’s there where the solutions to problems and the starting points for a strategy for further and long-term growth are hiding. Google, Facebook, and Netflix would tell you the same.

The first to take the mic was Jan Řezáč, one of the most interesting web consultants in the Czech Republic and the course convenor of professionally-oriented Digital Marketing. And he started off with whatever else than questions.

He spent the most time with the question what is design? This question is important not only for future web designers but also for those giving the designers their work. And according to Řezáč, author of the book Web ostrý jako břitva (A Razor-Sharp Website), everyone must understand the following:

“Design isn’t about making nice things, but solving problems,” says Řezáč, pointing out the often confusion between design and graphic design, which is only one part of the whole. The real essence of the designer’s work does not lie in controlling graphical tools and creating user interfaces, rather it consists of:

  • user testing,
  • business and critical thinking,
  • presumption testing,
  • and, of course, creativity.

“Most companies don’t need a custom graphic design because their business performance doesn’t rely on it,” says Řezáč, displaying a logo bank that you can use to buy a logo for $10. In this same way, everyone can use smart and cheap tools to put together a good-looking website. Also, artificial intelligence is constantly coming more into play, for instance, Molly can now create entire websites in just a few minutes.

But every company needs to solve problems, and the design of services or businesses, for example, helps to do this. According to Řezáč, companies that have this design approach rooted deep in their DNA are growing much faster than others. For instance, companies like Google, Facebook, and Netflix fall under this category.

Jan Řezáč brings order to chaotic websites.

According to Avinash Kaushik, whose books and articles Řezáč gives as required reading to all marketers, artificial intelligence will take 25% of jobs by the year 2026. Řezáč gives this challenge: “The market has already pushed out small graphic designers, and routine work, such as PPC clicks, is coming to an end. If doing something like this is your job, sooner or later you need to forget about it and plan your career accordingly.”

With websites and brands, start with the basics

For the first part of his lecture, marketing expert and brand building specialist Karel “Mindless” Novotný spoke about the situation in the Czech market: “When building a business, many people start at the surface and go inwards, even though they should do the exact opposite.”

According to the course convenor of the professionally-oriented Marketing and Brand Management course, a typical example comes from work where people want a new website and, before anything else, they request several designs of how it’s going to look.

However, they don’t choose any of these designs because they’re missing internal harmonisation regarding the goal that their new web should have.

Karel Novotný helps with brand building for companies such as LG and Philips.

How to start building a brand strategy

When you first start thinking about brand building, Novotný recommends asking yourself 3 questions:

  • What do we want from the customer?
  • What entitles us to this?
  • How do they feel about us?

Everyone can try this exercise for themselves. Novotný recommends walking through the shopping centre and answering these questions for every store with to your own feelings - What do they want from me? What entitles them to this? How do I feel here?

For example, in the Apple store, there is a clear attempt to impress and convince the customer that the world can be simple. “In the first step, a good brand raises expectations, however, it has to meet these expectations with evidence in the second,” Novotný explains, adding that the third step is entirely about emotions.

A correctly built brand doesn’t leave the customer space for their own opinion, rather it deliberately guides and helps them overcome decision paralysis.

According to Novotný, deliberate thought is key to a successful brand strategy. It leads to the setting of clear goals that the brand is meant to achieve.

A good brand satisfies its customers. If it can do this repeatedly, it raises expectations. “Selling something to someone once or twice doesn’t make you an entrepreneur. When the customer buys it from you 300× times, then we start having fun. It’s only then when the outlines of the brand start to show,” says Novotný, clarifying the importance of repeatable satisfaction.

“If brands don’t stick to their strategy and start jumping from one campaign to the next, they are no longer brands but commodities. Their predictability is reduced significantly,” he adds.

Another important point when building a brand strategy is relevant differentiation fromothers. However, Novotný points out that a large part of brands on the market mistakenly perceives this differentiation as the main goal. “It’s easy to be different. If any of you were to stand up now and remove your clothes, that would surely differentiate you. The question is whether you’re relevant,” Novotný explains.

12 more questions for your brand

Another tool that Novotný uses in his work as a brand consultant is 12 questions that uncover a brand’s mission, vision, and values.

12 questions that, when building a brand, help to penetrate to its true essence.

The first three questions in the WHO circle reveal the subconscious starting points, while the three in the WHAT circle reveal the conscious ones. Ideally, they agree and follow the answers in the FOR circle. The golden centre, the most important for each brand, is where all three circles intersect - INTENT.

“If you find out what your customers would miss if you weren’t there, you’ll discover what makes you interesting to them right now,” states Novotný, clarifying his meaning with his favourite question: What would happen if your brand didn’t exist?

Another source of brand inspiration according to Karel Novotný

Just as marketers have Avinash Kaushik, Novotný recommends those making brand strategies to familiarise themselves with the approaches of Marty Neumeier. He also noted that framework 4P is useful, i.e., product, place, price, and promotion.

Novotný says that large brands utilise all the 4Ps, however, one is more dominant than the rest. For instance, Coca-Cola is everywhere, Apple has a unique product, and Ryanair is cheaper than anything else.

As examples of inspired Czech companies with carefully built brands, Novotný mentioned Škoda auto, Air bank, Kofola, and Bernard. “The number one brands in the market have it really tough, as doing something new and unexpected is always a risk for them.”

Check out the complete recording from the Web & Brand lecture.