Having watched the film “The September Issue” last week I got to thinking about how really powerful brands can influence consumers, trends, and thinking.
I started reflecting on the concept of building brands of influence and considering whether they share characteristics from which we can learn as we build our own brands.
In the film, the power of Vogue Magazine to sway a nation’s fashion footsteps and to build or break designers and retailers seems immense. The impact it has is palpable. How others are affected and how they follow a leader of this type is also noteworthy.
As my daughter and I were debating the fact that very few people can actually afford to buy Gaultier or Versace, she shrewdly pointed out “that that doesn’t matter”,that these trends are picked up and copied appropriately across mags as low-brow as Dolly and Girlfriend, even for teen fashion.
So how do we learn from this? It appears that there are several characteristics to aspire to, and some which can be mimicked:
1. Be bold and confident : lead your consumers on a journey that creates a desire from them to be with you.
Futurists predict that successful brands will evolve to have cultural and social impacts that determine their stronghold in an over crowded consumer world. People are said to be suffering “infobesity” from the bombardment of messages . New, pertinent on-trend responses are required.
2. Provide inspiration and aspiration : strive to become sought after by providing your customers each and every time with something that exceeds their expectations.
3. Cherish your brand : don’t sway to the temptation of changing and morphing, even if a competitor makes you nervous. Find ways to define your own brand’s landscape and remain true to that.
4. Know where you are going and what you stand for (as a brand). Create that dream for your business, through your brand, and then plan to hit it.
5. Surround yourself with Implementation Expertise-messages, resources, appropriate networks-and utilize their expertise. Vogue’ vision, or dream, has never wavered and those at the helm have communicate it for the organization to congregate behind, and believe in.
6. The Brand is the Business: To be influential, think bigger than the product or service you’re offering. Your brand is not just your product. Vogue is more than a magazine. It’s an icon of Fashion and Trend-setting.
One common question I get asked is “what’s the best way to develop a name for my brand”?
If you follow the classic routes then several options are available:
Types of brand names
Acronym: A name made of initials such as UPS or IBM
Descriptive: Names that describe a product benefit or function like Whole Foods or Airbus
Alliteration and rhyme: Names that are fun to say and stick in the mind like Reese’s Pieces or Dunkin’ Donuts
Evocative: Names that evoke a relevant vivid image like Amazon or Crest
Neologisms: Completely made-up words like Wii or Kodak
Foreign word: Adoption of a word from another language like Volvo or Samsung
Founders’ names: Using the names of real people like Hewlett-Packard or Disney
Geography: Many brands are named for regions and landmarks like Gulf Air and Fuji Film
Personification: Many brands take their names from myth like Nike or from the minds of ad executives
Perhaps some of these ideas will spurn your next brand discussion.
Of course these are only relevant if inventing a brand from scratch, or innovating into a truly new area.
However if you have an existing brand or business ‘mark’, and are planning to expand into new products or services then you have to consider the relevance of using your existing brand. In this case available options include considering the use of a New Brand, a Brand Extension or a Sub-Brand.
A new brand is a self-evident concept and should be considered when the existing brand cannot possibly work on your new products. This would be the case if (a) new product is in an entirely different market space; (b) new product is in the same market space but being differentiated on pricing or other service components and you want to avoid a direct comparison; (c) you do not want end customers to know the product is from the same supplier/manufacturer as the existing brand.
Brand Extension works if your current brand can easily stretch into the new category or market space that you are planning to enter. You just have to ensure there is no confusion with existing products and both the new and existing products add value to each other by utilising the same name.
Finally for a sub-brand, you are using the “mother” brand name that is in existence and giving it an extra “child”. Famous brands such as Continental, Virgin and Masterfoods do this all the time because the mother brand (or masterbrand) has existing category creds that work to deposit positive associations onto the new lines that they introduce.
Whichever way you go, think about it carefully, ask your customers and consider the implications of every option. Great brand decisions will stick!