How we look at brands.
Yes, we too have our own way of looking at brands. Because, to be honest, we can’t really find an existing angle that satisfies sufficiently. Even more, most of the theories we’ve heard so far all lack of something. The way we look at brands seamlessly fits our approach on how brands should exist. That a brand should not be a cause in itself, but rather a platform of exchange between human beings, gathered in tribes.
The Brand Totem.
A brand consists of different concepts that vary from a very hazy level to a solid, clearly stated form. Engaging brands need more content than just a fancy name or logo. On the other hand, a brand needs enough breathing space to manoeuvre and evolve in the minds of its tribes. That is why we divide the global identity of a brand in 3 parts:
- a brand as an idea
- a brand as a personality
- a brand as a symbol
Each of these parts rely on each other to form a clear, solid and consistent brand identity. Each part needs the support and strength of the other to form, what we call: the Brand Totem.
A brand needs enough breathing space to manoeuvre and evolve in the minds of its tribes.How we look at brands
The brain-cracking part:
a brand as an idea
At the core of every brand lies a set of definitions that forms and represents the value of the brand. The more effective this idea is articulated, the more nested this will become. The brand as an idea lives and evolves in the minds of its tribe members. It therefore takes some deep thought and brain-cracking to conceive.
The most pertinent question we should ask when looking at brands is the existential one: why does the brand exist? Because every brand needs a purpose; without this, a brand just can not exist. While defining a purpose we should think about how we act in the different tribes we take part in. What is our reason why?
A next step is looking at what our brand does in order to reach that purpose. What do we do? This is the story we tell on how we create a certain value for our fellow tribe members. Do we help? Do we create? Do we engage or initiate? A mission should aim high, be clear and precise.
Some brands compile an extensive list of brand values. Or even be original in expressing those brand values. Instead we prefer to focus on a filtered and critically selected set of values. We work towards a handful of useful and relevant values whose consequences are felt and acknowledged in all layers and activities of the company.
How does the brand measures its success? What are the stakeholders’ expectations and how do we satisfy them? Measuring brand success or equity means taking several factors into account. Tangible factors, which are quantitative values such as revenue, profit (or loss), and sales numbers. But also more intangible factors, the qualitative values, such as consumer awareness of your brand, and goodwill. Setting the bar for success helps guiding a brand towards a profitable future.
The brand as an idea lives and evolves in the minds of its tribe members. It therefore takes some deep thought and brain-cracking to conceive. A brand as an Idea
The emotional part:
a brand as a personality
Since we look at brands as platforms of exchange between humans, a brand can be seen as a personality too. It brings the emotions to the brand. It makes the idea of a brand more tangible. Defining a clear personality is crucial, so tribe members can identify themselves easier with the brand, helping to raise the brandvalue by using it.
What are the core values of the brand as if it were a real person? This set of attributes represent the essence of our brand personality. They are a series of characteristics which identify the physical, character and personality of the brand. Just as we can do with real people.
We need to know more about what surrounds the brand. Who are the competitors and what is their USP? What is the market like? Where does the brand differentiates itself? This goes further then having two intersecting lines with a few dots. Ideally we end up with a biotope-ish hemisphere from where we can further develop the brand.
What are the brand’s passions and how does that affect its behavior? Knowing what moves, surprises and inspires a brand gives more depth and likeliness to it.
Defining a clear personality is crucial, so tribe members can identify themselves easier with the brand.A brand as a Personality
The creative part:
a brand as a symbol
The proverbial jewel in the crown. Or cherry on the cake, if you prefer sweets. This top-section of the brand totem gets the most visible attention, and helps to stick out -literally. This phase usually syncs with the creative proces of developing several assets like logo’s, icons, visual language and copy.
Tone of voice.
The way a brand speaks about itself says a lot. Fellow tribe members judge not only about what we say, but also about how we say it. The tone-of-voice contains a handful of character traits that will support the brand values.
One of the critical and most important of experiences tribes have with brands, is the visual language of the brand. A consistent and appealing visual language takes typography, design, colors into account. But also product design, positioning etc. A well developed visual language defines the brand identity even more.
A brand needs the right kind of logo. It really needs to hold everything together and should resonate with your tribes world view. Sometimes those do not match with the personal preferences of the people on the brands side. Keeping an open mind and an objective perspective is crucial.
This top-section of the brand totem gets the most visible attention, and helps to stick out -literally.A brand as a Symbol
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