A brand, much like a car, requires maintenance, and occasional investment. Meet Fred, he’s 25 and the year is 2005, he invests in a nice new car to impress his friends, he decides to go for a sporty model that suits his personality, it’s got all the latest ‘must have’ features and comes complete with its user manual to make sure he knows exactly how to look after it.
It’s not a stretch to imagine the same scenario with a company investing in its brand several years ago. At the time of development the new brand perfectly matched the company’s personality and values, it engaged with its users and came complete with the visual guidelines to facilitate the implementation of said brand.
Returning to the car parallel. Ten years later and the sporty model is slightly unbecoming of who Fred is now, it is no longer practical given he has children, and it’s not particularly environmentally friendly which has become an important consideration for Fred and his new circle of friends.
Similarly, the company in question has grown since their initial brand development. Their clients have changed slightly, so in order to avoid coming across as old fashioned and static, they need to reposition the look, feel and personality of their brand to match up.
Whether it’s a just a lick of paint, a new set of wheels or even a brand new car – the important thing is that you do what is right and what works best for your goals – because things change, you have to be open to moving with the times and being dynamic.
The following guide tells you how you can maintain, manage and keep your brand relevant.
Yes it is important that you adhere to your brand’s visual guidelines, but that is not to say that you cannot be dynamic with how it is used. Be creative with your supporting graphics, constantly assess your choice of language; the lexicon you adopt can make an enormous difference to people’s engagement with your communications. In essence, one must embrace change with open arms. Dynamism is a crucial string to the bow of any brand manager. It requires an open mind, so long as you don’t deviate so far from your brand values that you’re weakening them. This is why a brand’s identity needs to be bound by a few core values that will allow flexibility in execution.
A brand that never deviates can grow old quickly. Yes, you have come to trust your brand, and we’re not suggesting a complete over-haul. When we talk about being entertaining, we are referring to the occasional tweak to lighten or lift. This may take the form of a clever email subject line; a graphic in your email signature, or even the way you answer your office phones. The real test here is to find the equilibrium between consistency and innovation in a way that doesn’t cloud your core principles, but allows for novel adaptations that will make your clients smile, think or even act. The mindset when managing the brand needs to be one of ‘brick-by-brick’ as opposed to trying to erect the wall immediately – it is the start of an evolutionary process, as opposed to one drastic action. You want your brand to continue to surprise and engage your customers for the foreseeable future of your company’s existence – this will breed brand loyalty.
Don’t overthink your tweaks or your brand, if you try to be too clever you will soon discover that all your planning and brainstorming was lost on your customer base and the result is a slightly confused and/or disengaged following. The brand guidelines need to be simple to understand and follow. If they are not, then this should be one of your first ports of call. If your brand and visual guidelines are too restrictive and dictatorial then you will most likely wind-up with a constipated and stagnant brand.
Have a narrative
Telling stories via a brand has been a core principle of marketing for as long as there has been business in our lives – we now call it ‘content marketing’. It helps us to provide structure and significance to something that is otherwise disordered and indistinguishable. Hence the role of a brand, to penetrate the chaos of a saturated market, and stand out in the crowd as something that means something more than just a logo. Authenticity, creativity and inspiration are all core values of a captivating brand story. They will put you on the right track to ensuring that consumers form a bond with your product or service, and that you are taking your audience on a journey that attracts them. The key here is in combining the core consistency of your narrative with a fun and innovative methodology of reiterating it throughout the brand. The exact wording and minute details are not essential, what really matters is the structure and meaning of the story.
Invest in your brand
A brand is a full time job, at least it should be! It requires constant analysis and interaction with your customers and target audience alike to understand what makes them tick and to discuss how best to implement the above rules, and more, to keep up with their evolving needs to ensure you stay relevant.
Quite simply, it is rare to encounter a brand that can just remain static, and expect to continue attracting new, whilst retaining existing, customers. We live in a dynamic age where brand managers need to embrace the constantly changing rules of branding and needs of clients in order to succeed – it is referred to as active brand management, it’s not about rigidly and blindly obeying the rules of your brand, it’s about understanding how to consistently achieve relevancy.