In 30-plus years of branding, there are several points that always get a nod of approval. You know, that moment when those in the room smile and nod with the look of, "Finally, someone said it." Since we each have only so many hours in day, and time is an increasingly valuable commodity, I thought it would be useful to list out some of the "rules" we use to break rules.
Overcoming the "Same Crap, Different Day" Syndrome
It's really a matter of viewpoint and having the right tools. As Abraham Maslow said, "When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail."
In other words, if all you know is "sell more" you'll only choose that as your answer. Or "do something crazy" as the only thing that sticks, then you'll choose that. Yet, branding has a lot of tools that fall underneath its broad umbrella. So knowing the breadth of branding is vital unless you like hammering a lot of nails (and patching up a lot of leaky holes). Which is why businesses like Apple, Harley Davidson, Dyson, Under Armour, and other brand leaders do what they do, leaving their competition scratching their heads in bewilderment.
The company that seeks the ROI without the "I" demonstrates only a surface understanding of doing business today. Yes, you need the monetary investment, but you also need the committed investment of the company into that brand promise and culture.
Design is the alignment, reorganization, and fusing of aesthetics with judgement, tenacity, a touch of rebellion, and the know-how to keep a vision alive and relevant. It's also the art of saying, "No" and knowing when to implement that right. Merging those skills and disciplines correctly while adhering to the fact that branding is "the art of differentiation" and you can end being the next Apple of your industry.
Another key point is knowing when to change your operating basis as pointed out by Einstein: "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
Brand Control To Major Tom...
The following 9 points have helped our clients earn tens of millions of dollars. So they're more than opinions. They're ideas that work. And in 34 years, I've yet to have a CEO, a VP of Marketing, or an entrepreneur who came to us for an idea that didn't. Fact is: every business owner and CEO has the right to a superior brand. One that's meaningful. Powerful. Long-lasting. Inspiring. And effective. Here is our 9-step program to building a brand that cuts through the noise:
- A day that goes by without breaking some sacred branding rule is a day a client has lost to rise above the status quo. By breaking those rules with insight, intelligent and innovation, clients get heard in a world that's simply too busy to listen.
- We know there are thousands of ways to solve any problem and that the only valuable solutions are the effective ones. Doing something ineffective in half the time—or "more efficiently" or "more economically"—isn't progress, but is instead bad business.
- Social media isn't a brand strategy. Social media is a channel. While it’s important for a brand to develop something to say, it’s more important to create something that will be heard.
- History is filled with inferior products outselling superior ones thanks to better branding. Only superior branding has the power to overcome and reverse this and that superior products deserve superior branding.
- Consumers and clients have a first moment when they discover a brand. It’s this defining moment that establishes expectation and perceived value. Delivering on that value will determine whether your company thrives or merely stumbles along.
- People never got passionate about mediocre and average. This is why there is no aisle in a grocery or department in a store or menu on a website for "average stuff" or "beige products." While consumers and clients can find "best deals" and "natural foods" and "artisan goods," one doesn't find an aisle or a website menu tab for "average stuff"—which might explain that while vanilla is necessary for the ice cream sundae, it's the hot fudge we all crave (and talk about).
- Brands that use clichés to promote their brand end up promoting their category, not their brand.
- Growth and brand dominance is created by having the highest brand value, not the lowest price tag. One can always sell something by offering the lowest price. But this does not create loyalty to your brand. Never did and never will. It only creates "loyalty" to that price point. As soon as your customer is offered a better price, he or she will jump ship, leaving you like a scorned lover in the middle of the night.
- Brands are either built on reruns or coming attractions. The future has no road map while the past does. Creating a brand that blazes new trails can sometimes be bumpy but will also allow you to be the first to discover something new, something meaningful and something that makes others ask, "Why didn’t we think of that?"
Recipient of over 320 national and international design and branding recognitions and awards, David Brier is an award-winning brand identity specialist, package designer and branding expert. His firm's work can be regularly found in blogs, publications and award annuals. David is also the author of Defying Gravity and Rising Above the Noise. David's series of videos shed new light on real branding in these short TV interviews. David's latest video entitled "Branding and the Power of the Consumer" has received rave reviews.
You can also request your own copy of David's free eBook, "The Lucky Brand" here.