A good brand is built over time and requires thought, strategy and consistent implementation. The job is not over when the brand guidelines are completed. This is just the beginning of an entire brand experience that could last a lifetime.
Creating a brand is like the birth of a child, perfect in so many ways, but in need of loving care until it matures. Brand Ambassadors are the guardians, entrusted with consistently reinforcing the brands values until it is able to run by itself, like raising a child.
Maintaining “brand consistency” is a strategic commitment that is vital to the company’s success. This is one of the main reasons why Brand Lounge added the fifth stage to it’s branding methodology; discovery, development, design, delivery and deployment. It is not enough for an iconic brand to merely be created. It must be nurtured and its values regularly reinforced across all of it’s communications.
What is your brand?
Your brand is your image and reputation. As Jeff Bezos said, an easy way to think about it is that your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Essentially what gets said behind your back about your company and what you stand for. So one of the most important reasons to consider and implement your own brand position is that if you don’t, someone else will, and they won’t always do it positively.
In most cases the brand is visually reflected in the logo mark, then supported by the identity, the way the brand communicates and the messaging. These consumer touch points dictate the way people engage with your brand and experience it, influencing their attitudes and opinions about the company.
When the brand is created, the people behind its creation, from strategists to designers are the ones who know the brand the most. They become attached to it and feel like it is their own. It is like their own baby.
It is important that these same strategy and design teams are integral in the raising of the brand to ensure that they can reinforce the core understanding and motivations behind it. Once the brand is synonymous with the company culture, it is strong and sustainable. At this point the branding team can take the training wheels off and let it ride alone.
Can Brands Be Flexible?
One brand can only serve one master, the cardinal rule of any good branding team. A company like P&G understand this premise implicitly. Although the entire worlds population has probably used one of their products at one time, they know that they can not serve every target market with one brand. With this in mind, they have strategically developed a multi-brand house, ‘made of many individual brands, each serving customers in different ways’ Their haircare range alone is split into 19 separate brands!
This portfolio of brands shows the importance of clear, intentional positioning by the brand team. If one of their hair care brands is known for strong hair and the other for shiny hair, they have to be extremely careful to stay true to the brands values and ensure they do not cannibalise each other.
A brand does not have to be cast in stone from the moment that it is created, but any change or evolution of the brand must be deeply considered and implemented consistently. The Coca Cola, Pepsi battle is a classic example of this.
Coca Cola lost critical market share to Pepsi by mistakenly assuming that they could market to everyone. Pepsi recognised this misconception and capitalised on it by adjusting their brand communication to a narrower demographic. They targeted the youth and made the brand a whole lot more trendy in the process. Who doesn’t want to be associated as trendy and youthful?
Starbucks Coffee is the most famous brand to have radically evolved long after the brand was first conceived, and it happened by accident. Howard Schultz had travelled to Milan to review a new state of the art coffee machine and instead, after spending the day in and out of numerous Milanese coffee shops, realised he had the answer to a whole different problem entirely.
Italian coffee shops were not just a place to consume a cup of coffee on the go, they were a meeting place for the community to come together and share their lives. This was entirely different to the model in the United States. Following this trip, the Starbuck’s brand we know today was born.
Does Your Brand Only Belong to the Branding Team?
A true brand has been built to serve the core needs and desires of its stakeholders. To solve a problem and add value to their lives. It belongs to all of them.
However, it is the team who first created the brand who understand its true inner workings the best. They are the ones who envisioned it and took the time to understand the rational behind each element, they are the ones who are able to instill its values in others. This is why it is so important that they are not only involved at the creation stage, but also as brand ambassadors, developing and implementing the brand, ensuring it stays true to its roots.