What Makes a Meaningful Brand: Standing for Something

June 13, 2017
June 13, 2017 Brendan Ryan

As an agency committed to making meaningful connections between a brand and their consumers, we got to talking lately, wondering what makes a brand meaningful to consumers. In this series of three posts, we explore differing perspectives from within our agency on what gives a brand meaning.  

A successful brand has to stand for something. That doesn’t mean championing an altruistic cause (although that’s never a bad thing to do outside of marketing efforts); it’s about having a clear identity. Something consumers can latch onto and quickly understand what the brand is all about. For Lego, it’s imagination and creativity. For Toyota, it’s reliability and longevity. If a consumer can’t easily identify what a brand is all about, what they represent, they’re going to struggle to find success. Often times, a brand will try to be everything to everyone, and that’s just not realistic. When you try to do too much, you end up doing nothing particularly well, and fail to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Additionally, consistency is critical. The most successful brands will stay true to who they’ve always been instead of changing from year to year. Sure, it’s sometimes necessary for a brand to reposition itself, but done too often, it creates confusion. Consumers lose focus and move on. The best campaigns can last forever. MasterCard’s “priceless” campaign has been running for decades. Miller High Life’s Errol Morris-directed “High Life Man” featured more than 100 TV spots, and though Miller retired the campaign in the mid 2000’s, its authenticity and no-nonsense approach would still resonate with today’s consumers.

I keep all this in mind when working on a project, making sure the concepts align with and reinforce an established brand identity. Anything that doesn’t finds its way to the garbage can.

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