Cookie Cutters Are For Baking, Not Branding

Brand identity expert David Brier inspects what makes some things great and others not so great. While David acknowledges that rules are great to follow, it's the rule breakers who have forged innovation in business, in branding and in life. Often challenging, there's never a dull moment when the cookie-cutter approach is discarded (and people and consumers do seek out the next terrific thing that is anything but dull).

Misfits. Rebels. Innovators. Will the real one stand up?

Factually, it's sometimes impossible to tell one from the other. But you can tell them apart with this one distinction: the outcome. Did things improve? Did the changes include foresight? Did the landscape all of a sudden become bigger and more dynamic?

Great brands follow the same outcomes.

A Brand Philosophy

Before I get to this list, I thought it useful to understand a basic philosophy we developed to help companies in the most effective manner possible. Here it is:

We believe brands are one of the great tools that, when used by intelligent minds, can help shape a company. Its destiny. Its passion. Its power. We believe every company can and should benefit from that type of empowerment and thrives best when it does.

We believe owners created businesses to win and thrive, not merely limp along and survive.

Companies that blend in are costly to maintain, and gravitate to themselves little, if any, brand loyalty. The ugly truth is this: consumers gravitated to "cheap brands" are loyal to the price, not to the brand.

Companies should stop being clichés, me-toos and also-rans. So a company can be the leader it's capable of being.

Back to the Kitchen

Well, over the years during a lecture I was giving, an article I was writing or just while having a plain old heart-to-heart with a client, I've uttered some gems that caught me by surprise. Improv at its best.

Afterwards, I repeated them as necessary in various settings and they seemed to hit the spot to shed light on a key issue a client was having. I share them here. Hopefully, you'll find them useful too.

12 Ways to Avoid the Cookie Cutter Brand Syndrome

  1. The same old rules will get the same old results.
  2. Those who did change the world didn't think they couldn't.
  3. Life is like software. Upgrades are available.
  4. Rules enable one to follow. Knowledge enables one to lead.
  5. There is little worse a company can do to reduce its influence than have something that is different with a pitch that sounds the same as everyone else's.
  6. If your brand is using clichés, you're promoting your category, not your brand.
  7. Want to know what to expect of people? "Listen" to their actions, not to their words.
  8. Clichés can ruin a business faster than a roomful of politicians.
  9. A mind is a wonderful thing: You're either watching reruns or you're previewing the coming attractions.
  10. Is your brand a national treasure or a historical monument to days gone by?
  11. Social media isn't a brand strategy. Social media is a channel.
  12. Cookie cutters are for baking, not branding.

Use the above to excel, to elevate your brand and actions to a new level that makes yesterday's "great thing" today's fond memory.

My Thank You: Since you've read this far, I'd like to express my appreciation with your very own a Free copy of "The Lucky Brand" eBook.

Recipient of over 320 national and international design and branding recognitions and awards, David Brier is an award-winning brand identity designer, author, and branding expert. His firm's work has won the admiration of peers and organizations but has, more importantly, helped clients jump-start their brands in new and innovative ways, even (and especially) when they've failed in previous brand makeovers. Most recently, the firm's celebrated work for Botanical Bakery was selected for the 2010 Communication Arts Design Annual and will be featured in "The Big Book of Packaging."

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