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The Superpower: Branding

A lot of startups or businesses come up with a logo and a color, thinking that this will create a brand name. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Brand Bridge | 08.06.2014

Now if they ask me what the one super power is that every business should have, it would be branding.

Creating a brand is a whole new level of making something worth mentioning. It is about the image, the vision and the mission, nonetheless customers - actually customers come first above all.

“If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.” - Coca-Cola Executive.

This Executive explains the whole idea of putting your customer in the number one spot because at the end of the day, the customer makes the brand. But the main problem is before the customer makes a brand, how should the brand approach the customer? And here comes the role of branding.

What is branding?
A brand is a mash of ideas, people, associations and a product/service that try to come together to harness and improve the performance of that product or service. Branding is an attempt to make this brand perform better – therefore, it is the whole business ecosystem. Branding tries to bind all of the efforts around any product to make it more reliable, exciting, perceivable and easy to fall in love with.

Of course, branding cannot do everything because there a lot of external influences affecting it. But smart design, approaches, advertisement, marketing, cultural awareness, corporate integrity and customer engagement can result in a long lasting association in the brains of your customers with anything in relation to your brand. Indeed, every brand and industry is different, but the clear thing is that what you do and stand out for is what makes the difference.

Technology and Branding
Again, let’s get back to Coca Cola. It is indeed my and a couple billion more people’s favorite drink. For 13 years (2000-2013) it was the crème de la crème - the most valuable brand in the world! However, it was overtaken by two brands: Apple and Google!

Why? They simply made people’s life easier. Apple was a computer manufacturer with around 10% of the market share, but the transformation made by the late Steve Jobs was maybe the best in any brand’s history. From computers to media and media consumption and indeed they are giants now. Apple sold 100 Million+ iPods but that’s not the catch. What made Apple a brand are iTunes and the App Store. The App Store is a huge brand maker with 75 Billion downloads and 25 Billion songs downloaded on iTunes. Google is also in the brand market, fiercely depending on their search engine as the number one website on the www as well as their Android OS which took the mobile market by storm. It does not stop there: Google’s acquisition of every service that is useful to its brand, integrating every service with just one click brought it to the top.

These are customer-focused brands: they listen, and they work closely with their customers and developers to make their brands better. Integrating those technologies today to your brand’s benefit is vital, whether it is social media, ads or app-related to your product/service or anything in the realm of technology.

Create an Impact!
Branding is a way of clearly highlighting what makes your offer different to, and more desirable than anyone else’s. It is transferring your brand from a commodity to a real product with style and promise. It can create an emotional resonance in the minds of consumers who choose products and services using both emotional and pragmatic judgments.

In general many products make grand claims but only a few can demonstrate those abilities before you've removed them from their packaging. Swimming against this current is Festina Watches, for example, a company based in Germany. It has sanctioned the placement of its waterproof watches in a bag of water at point of sale. The transparent packaging was filled with distilled water and the Festina Profundo watch was placed inside. Dreamt up by Scholz & Friends, this ingenious solution tells you everything you need to know about the watch without extraneous words. The result is that the brand appears more premium, distinctive and perhaps even more daring than its competitors.

Value.
Customers are willing to pay a premium rate for branded products, rather than non-branded products- even if the branded product is less valuable. However, the mainstream mindset proclaims that branded products have more work involved - which is true, but still remains a two-sided blade. The idea of a brand is ever expanding, into more ideas and more products.

Looking at Tesco - for example – it is clear that it is a supermarket, just not a conventional one. Tesco started as an economy supermarket in England, but because it focused on its brand, it expanded into furniture and insurance. A consistent application of the Tesco brand attributes, such as ease of access and low price, as well as expanding without changing those core values and attributes made Tesco what it is today. It was a win-win situation for both the customer and the brand in adding and finding value.

The Definition.
Always try to define your brand using key ingredients
• The Idea: What is the core brand identity or the big idea?
• Core Values: What do you really stand for?
• Vision: Where are you heading?
• Personality: How do you want people to remember your brand?

Answer those questions, and if you have a constant answer every time they’re asked, you’re on the right track.
o Ikea is an example of The Big Idea. The Idea that not just design gurus, but everybody deserves a good design. They urge us to fill our houses with good designs with the best bang for a buck! And it is a commitment too.
o Starbucks is an example of a brand with Core Values. They are an outspoken advocate for clean water in Third World countries, having poured millions of dollars into the cause. The company’s Ethos water product, for example, helps fund such initiatives by donating $0.05 of each $1.80 bottle to clean water projects in under-developed areas.
o Microsoft is an example of a brand with a Vision. And here, I quote its Chairman Bill Gates: “We started with a vision of a computer on every desk and in every home… every day, we’re finding new ways for technology to enhance and enrich people’s lives. We’re really only just getting started.”
o Proctor & Gamble is an example of a brand with Personality. With ad campaigns like Thank You, Mom which gives the feeling of support and warmness of this brand, from the slow crescendo of the music, to the careful choice of words at the end of the film, to the narrator’s nurturing tone of voice in the campaign’s ad, their film pulls on one’s heart strings, making all those hours of changing diapers and washing clothes feel oh-so-worth it.

And all of this brings us to one thing, and only one thing: Design.

I co-founded a company which believes in design and only design. Design is the only way to reach your customer which makes your brand. And we believe that we need change. New alternatives and new ideas that did not exist before. Design starts with humans, it starts with what humans need and/or might need. No matter how much technology and economics are involved, it all starts with humans – as a matter of fact humans are the center of everything we do. We understand culture and context before we have ideas. We want to understand and work on what will motivate and make people work with everything we do in an easy understandable way, which creates their bond to the product. We don’t just want people to consume; we need them to participate, and we want to shift the relation between consumer and producer from passive to active. We want to create a process which is meaningful, productive and profitable. We don’t think to build; we build to think. We prototype and put our innovation out to the world so we can understand it’s weaknesses and strengths. Last but not least, we don’t think like designers nor work like designers - we believe that design should be in the hands of everyone.