If you had to divide your company, which would you keep: the money, the production hall and equipment or the earned brand? The last one? Great. Companies have their know-how and equipment, but brands are in consumers’ hearts. Their substantial intangible value is in our minds. Brands are a cultural phenomenon and, if properly engineered, they are unique. How is it possible, though, that most brands bend over backwards to become indispensable and still stay behind, while others are simply strong and stand as if next to the overcrowded market, enjoying the position of a leader. This kind of success doesn’t happen by accident. Let’s have a closer look at it.
We often fail to notice a very common phenomenon of brand manifestations, which can be observed in three areas of emanation:
- brand design – the visual layer is an expression of attitude, goals and the nature of a brand. Consistent visual identity drives brand recognition and sets it apart. It shows a brand through the prism of its unique visual code. A well-structured key-visual which is consistent in all its touchpoints anchors itself in us to such an extent that we don’t even need a logo to recognise some brands – it’s enough to sense their style. When we see a freckled model on a white background – we know it’s Dove. Red background and a yellow letter „M”? Aren’t you lovin’ it?
- brand behaviour – this is the level where brand experience is designed. Each brand can waste its potential if it goes off the right path of personality expression and manifestation of the ideas it supports. Żywiec zdrój (a Polish mineral water brand), whose fundamental value is ecology, has already planted one million trees. From now on, we don’t just buy water, but we consciously choose a brand which supports local environmental initiatives,
- brand communication – all Poles are familiar with Mariola Okocim spojrzeniu (which translates to Mariola, the cat-eyed girl, but it is also a funny play on the name of a popular beer brand Okocim), as well as they know that close doesn’t count (prawie robi różnicę) and that the soup was too salty (zupa była za słona). Words are the basic linguistic means of conveying values – they can authenticate, support and emphasise a brand image – or destroy it. The wording and the right connotation can shape a brand image in terms of development dynamics, the kind of desired target customers, value for money of the marketed goods and services. On the other hand, lack of appeasing verbal messages in crises will always give the impression of helplessness, incompetence, arrogance and, therefore, negatively affect the company’s image.
The product of these three areas is the brand essence, which answers the question why a brand exists. Simon Sinek in his book „Start With Why” explains that organisations have no problem answering the question WHAT they do. Some can say HOW they do it, but only a few can say WHY. Before it becomes an icon, each brand needs to find its own path, its WHY. And that’s when branding comes to the rescue, as it’s the first one to demand the answer to this question. Branding requires a clear statement of what a brand is and what it is not. Further, branding is about creating, constant amplifying and delivering of the brand promise. The best brands are crushingly consistent. Every aspect of what they do and who they are reflects their very essence. That’s why branding needs to be determined first. The question of who the brand is needs to be answered before we come up with marketing methods, tools, strategies or tactics. While marketing can evolve and respond to current market trends, branding stays the same. It is the reason we love brands because it answers questions about the deepest sense of their existence.