BLOG: Something just like this

Enduring superbrands remind me of the legends of old referred to in this song. Trailing gold dust in their paths, there’s a magic to how they are faithfully followed by creating and sprinkling illusions of fairytale bliss. Often as untouchable as imaginary superheroes – think of Lego, number one consumer Superbrand two years in a row*, and its blockbuster action movies which are essentially two-hour commercials for their product!

The best brands are the ones you feel emotionally connected to. Look for the brands you keep coming back to on your life journey. For me, it’s a pair of Levi’s jeans since I was about age 15, Ikea furniture which we kitted out our first home with, grew out of, and then went back to a decade later for our kids’ furniture, a can of Diet Coke especially when I’m feeling run down, Apple had me at the iPod and its iPhone is the only smartphone companion I’ve ever known.

There are brands that will always feel familiar to you, trusted by you, their messages resonate with your personal brand identity and you are prepared to pay more for them if you have to so that they are a part of your everyday life.

These UK Brexit times have shown us how strongly people in one country can identify with two very different national identities, family and friendship groups often mirroring the nation’s polarised views. Successful brands do the opposite of fragmenting, aiming to unify people behind a purpose, product or service (with the exception maybe of Marmite who openly want you to love or hate them!). They can ebb and flow in popularity depending on the company’s marketing mix and profile-raising plans, but they are always targetting conversion – for you to convert your loyalty to them and then faithfully follow them forevermore.

Not everyone can be an influencer type superbrand, nor is it every brand’s ambition. Regardless of how super powerful the identity, all brands need to be rooted in a place of integrity, consistency and authenticity for followers to remain loyal.

Stay loyal to values that underpin a brand, not the name

A consistent brand gives clarity to the buyer, making it easier for them to make a purchasing decision. Your name, logo, colours and fonts executed in the same way across all touchpoints strengthens the identity, but this identity is not just reserved for your marketing materials and merchandise. It extends beyond marketing application into and across your working environment, your customer service, your pricing model, your tone of voice, how you show up at meetings, how you show up at public events, your online presence, your presence in the community, the quality of your work, the actions you take, the promises you keep…and so on.

There’s much more to this than the name; it’s the cultural values underpinning the name that need to be easily recognisable, which makes living the brand identity the job of all employees (and a useful indicator of the engagement of those employees!).

Evolving brands every few years to remain relevant, from subtle font and logo tweaks to full-blown design refreshes to modernise, is good practice. Brand transitions though really cut to the core of what a company and its people stand for, its values and purpose. It takes the brand refresh exercise a step further to reveal which parts of your identity really matter the most. What’s important to keep, and what can you live without while still remaining recognisable to your customers? A bit like if you get married and change your maiden name to your new married surname, you’re the same person with the same values but recognising you by the new name takes getting used to.

This Superbrands quote from P&O Ferries describes it well:

An effective brand evolution is like writing a good book. When writing a new chapter, the goal isn’t a disruption in narrative, but to add an interesting plot twist.

Superbrands 2019

Born to an English mother and an Iranian father, my own identity has always had an interesting plot twist, a blended race identity that transcends geographic / cultural / political identity norms. Similarly, brand transitions are all about blending – people, ways of working, cultures, languages – into one big melting pot and creating something new, not necessarily superheroic, but something to collectively believe in.

Which brands are you loyal to? Why do they resonate with your personal brand identity?

Song credit: Coldplay & The Chainsmokers. Watch the music video here.