Mouldy bread and brands.
I’m all for boosting the immune system, but I’m not sure I could stomach this discipline. Inspired by my enigmatic GP friend, my mind wandered into a maze of untamed thought and when I came out the other side, I had a peculiar but pertinent conviction in my heart…
Branding is like bread: it has a sell by date.
Many companies make the mistake of treating their branding as a one-off purchase, a box to tick and then forget about, but this approach will almost certainly lead to stale, mouldy bread at the back of the cupboard or bottom of the bread bin.
Branding, although physically intangible, has the potential to be a company’s most valuable asset. However, it will only realise this potential if it is maintained carefully and kept fresh.
In my opinion, brands generally fall into one of the following three categories:
The Neglected Loaf
These are the least effective brands, sporting green fur and their own delicate little ecosystem, and merely state unique functions or attributes of the product or company they represent.
The next level, with only the odd green spot on the crust, might communicate functional benefits or even experiential and emotional benefits.
The best brands, freshly baked Italian herb and cheese foot-longs, share a set of values with their customers, creating their own communities, culture and identity.
One of my favourite examples of this type of branding is B&Q. Yes. Really. B&Q is not only unmissable with its visuals but creates a culture of empowerment and togetherness with its strapline: “You can do it too with B&Q”. Through its branding, B&Q has communicated its identity and has become the reliable “go-to” for a community of loyal customers seeking a mass of DIY solutions.
Although the primary function of branding is still recognition, connotation is becoming more and more important with the current branding leaders going beyond surface-level awareness and instead using a brand narrative to set up communities of loyal customers.
So the question is: does your brand fulfil its potential? Is your brand communicating more than your name, providing a narrative about your identity that customers can engage with?
If you’ve got a spare minute why not check out how some of the most recognisable brands have evolved over the years at http://www.instantshift.com/2009/01/29/20-corporate-brand-logo-evolution/