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Remain true to your brand

In marketing, remaining true to our brand is as core to who we are as much as ‘Be Prepared’ is core to a scout leader I would imagine.

So what happens when a brand changes? How do we remain true to the brand?

Some brand evolution is to be expected … Remember the journey of Apple?

It seems to me that even with brand evolution, the essence of a brand will stay the same when the brand reflects the culture, even when the culture evolves. Sometimes brand evolution is about better defining elements that were vague or too open. It was there all along but we just hadn’t put a label on it.

They say there are effectively 12 brand archetypes:

  1. The Outlaw: radical ideas, rebellious, leading change, challenging the status quo (think Harley Davidson)
  2. The Jester: playful, joyous, fun into chaos (think Fanta)
  3. The Lover: intimate, sensuous (think CK)
  4. The Caregiver: altruistic, maternal, empathetic, general (think nappies)
  5. The Everyperson: straight-shooter, practical, real, down-to-earth (think Ikea)
  6. The Innocent: wholesome, pure, happy, optimistic (think Pure Blonde)
  7. The Ruler: power, confidence, our way or no way (think prestigious cars)
  8. The sage: the great thinkers, teacher, philosopher, wise (think most bevvies out of Tasmania)
  9. The magician: visionary, makes change happen, spiritual, wholistic (think Smirnoff)
  10. The Hero: competitive, successful, brave idealists, sacrifice (think Nike)
  11. The Creator: distinctive, original, innovative (think Bang & Olufsen)
  12. The Explorer: adventurous, restless, free (think Jeep)

Of course not all brands fit comfortably into one category – many are a combination of several.

From where I’m sitting, the most important thing in brand evolution is not pretending to be something you’re not. Said in positive language: Be who you are. Let your culture guide your brand vision.

As a marketer, it breaks my heart to see brands struggling between their internal and external personalities. If your team isn’t walking the same walk, the brand reputation will likely follow what the team are saying or doing no matter how much your Marketing division has invested in the brand vision they desire.

This is a good thing – it forces us to be true to ourselves and if there is a gap between the brand in real life and the brand vision, to find momentum to do what it takes to narrow the gap.

That’s why we all care so much about social media these days. A well resolved customer blow-up can restore the positive brand values. But a runaway train will lead to a runaway brand.

I’m not sure how Tony Abbott is going to resolve the Twitter reaction following their NBN political announcement and the subsequent hashtag #fraudband which was trending last week in Twitter at number 3. A difficult, real-life example of a brand vision clash. Not going to open that can of worms!

Which brands do you think are the most successful?

-Caroline Herrman

April 15, 2013
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