Have you noticed how we humans like to imbue things with human qualities? How many cars have got names and characteristics that we use to explain something cool or quirky about it?
So how does this relate to brands?
There’s a lot of noise out there about brands, what they are and what they aren’t, how to set one up and how important it is. There is no legal unified body that has defined what a brand is (is there?).
They are part of our everyday lives but do we really know what defines a brand and why does it matter anyway?! It’s just marketing, right?
We have worked in the creative brand strategy industry for over 35 years. During this time, we’ve set up, evolved, repositioned and marketed hundreds of brands – big and small. We’ve read forests of content about who thinks what about brands and all things associated with promoting, growing and building successful brands.
So, let’s keep it simple and start with the dictionary definition as that will make it clear, surely?
the kind, grade, or make of a product or service, as indicated by a stamp, trademark, or the like:
the best brand of coffee.
a mark made by burning or otherwise, to indicate kind, grade, make, ownership, etc.
a mark formerly put upon criminals with a hot iron.
any mark of disgrace; stigma.
a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristic:
The movie was filled with slapstick—a brand of humor he did not find funny.
a set of distinctive characteristics that establish a recognizable image or identity for a person or thing:
Building your personal brand will positively impact your career.
a burning or partly burned piece of wood.
Archaic. a sword.
Ok, well maybe and maybe not.
Apart from my favourite – ‘a mark formerly put upon criminals with a hot iron’, I think that this definition is the closest to our interpretation:
‘a set of distinctive characteristics that establish a recognizable image or identity for a person or thing’
It ties in with that desire to give things some relatable characteristics, emotional and human (but not always). It links to understanding human behaviours. Why does one brand of car, pants or even sausages create strong emotions in people?
We can’t claim to have done any pants related brands (hmm) but we have done cars and sausages and many things in between including services, events, locations, good causes and even the weather.
What seems to be a constant in all the stuff we read and do is that the interactions and experiences with the brand, across all touchpoints and over time, help to define what that brand means to that particular consumer or customer. It’s almost a dynamic living entity in the minds of those people that it engages with.
Ok it can get complicated and deep which is cool, but we are trying to provide a quick and simplified definition here of what we think a brand is, so I’ll cut to the chase. Please feel free to disagree and come back with what you think.
Brand is the personality, character, values, behaviour, history, ambition, promise and look and feel that relate to the people you want to notice what you do and sell.
When we evolve or create a brand we look beyond the surface and help define or uncover that personality and character. This will inform the marketing and communications strategy by helping define the brand positioning and proposition to ensure engagement with the right audiences.
This is important because the facts and research show that a strong brand is resilient and much more relevant to your audience (if you do it right).
It is not just about the logo and look and feel, though that makes a big impression. It’s that true depth behind that outer layer, the personality, behaviours and characteristics that make it real.
Of course defining the brand is just the first step on the journey, after that…
Author: Steve Kyffin, Managing Director.
Steve has spent most of his life in the creative sector with over 33 years at Bluestone360 which he co-founded in 1988 after a few years as a freelance designer working in London and Bristol.
His love of the sea and formative years living in Cornwall made it difficult for him to live more than 10 minutes from the coast. He studied for his diplomas and qualified as a Member for the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers (now CSD) in Cornwall where he sometimes had a distant view of the north Cornwall coast.
A graphic designer and creative thinker at heart Steve spent the early years at Bluestone360 creating everything from logos to leaflets and the odd cool surf T-shirt design whilst account managing and running the business with his fellow directors. As the team grew and the clients got bigger and more demanding so the skills and experience grew. Steve soon took on the role as managing director.
This was an informative and interesting time as strategic and creative thinking were aligned to challenge and meet clients objectives. Strategies, campaigns and creative ideas were produced for an ever growing array of clients. From Allied Domecq’s global launch of Ballantynes, O2’s branded trade marketing communications, Wrigleys consumer and customer marketing needs, to supporting the Danepak brand relaunch and winning a few Grammia brand experience awards for the Ginsters website, the team flourished and constantly learnt.
With his fellow director Steve developed the BrandDNA process that has evolved over the years as a way of defining what the brands personality and values are. This has gone on to be used in many successful businesses and is still being used today.
With the evolution of the internet and the rapidly changing online world, brands had to adapt to consumers’ needs and Steve and the team soon realised that despite the need for sales the internet was an enormous opportunity for brands to reinforce their values and drive meaningful engagement.
Steve and the team at Bluestone360 are always looking to innovate, collaborate, bring energy, creativity and expertise to make brands meaningful and successful.
Steve still lives 10 minutes away from the sea.