Marty Neumeier says that branding is the process of connecting good strategy and good creativity. It’s true — well-defined strategy and creativity play an integral role in building a strong brand.
When your team is able to think creatively, strategise effectively and innovate wisely, it really has the potential to strengthen your brand.
Creativity in Branding
Steve Jobs once said that creativity “comes down to exposing yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those into what you’re doing.”
Creativity is a major player in good branding because creativity allows companies to be different. Being different is what will grab consumers’ attention as it defies the ordinary. When you exercise creativity and dare to be different, your business will be able to differentiate itself from direct competitors.
A huge perk about adopting a creative approach is that it tends to foster a stronger emotional connection with customers. Think Ben & Jerry – they’ve created a fun and quirky brand personality that really resonates with their target audience. Through cheeky names like The Tonight Dough and American Dream, alongside the consistent and distinct customer experience at each outlet, Ben & Jerry’s manages to stay attractive to their target audience. Oh, and did we mention Free Cone Day? It’s no wonder they continue to attract a loyal base of customers despite several other competitors popping up with lower prices.
We don’t have to look very far for examples. The laptop we’re using to churn out this article right now — a MacBook, of course — is a testimony of Apple’s success in branding, backed by creative ideas.
Steve Jobs was quite the creative visionary during his time at Apple. Apple was able to express creativity in their branding approach — by positioning their electronics as luxury items, convincing consumers that they’d joined the ranks of the “creative class” when they purchased Apple products.
Apple also made the decision to invest more resources in enhancing the customer experience in their brick and mortar stores. When the competition “zigged”, Apple “zagged.”
Strategy in Branding
A brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a brand in order to attain specific goals. So why is it important?
Implementing a brand strategy helps to define the rules and guidelines on how to establish an image for your business in consumers’ minds. Think of an effective brand strategy as a magnifying glass — it makes things clearer. A well-defined brand strategy leads to a consistent brand message and a strong emotional connection with customers.
Consider Coca-Cola, a brand that’s become a household name internationally.
The brand centers its brand strategy on its primary values of “sharing” and “happiness”. Coca-Cola maintains a fun brand personality consistently conveying an uplifting brand message.
In its “Open Happiness” campaign, Coca-Cola carried out activities where the brand gave out free cokes to students in cafeterias, villagers in rural areas, shoppers in malls in India and Pakistan. This clever campaign not only amplified the brand message but fostered an emotional connection with consumers as well, using happiness as the main emotional appeal.
Innovations in Branding
Innovation is crucial to the branding process because it unlocks new ideas and solutions, allowing businesses to adapt to new changes and challenges.
That said, innovations must be congruent with the brand’s promise to be considered efficient. When innovation ties in closely with the brand’s promise, it has the potential to increase brand relevance.
The innovation process involves scrutinising the underlying needs and wants of consumers, before brainstorming for ideas to cater to them. When your business is able to identify what your customers need, you’ll become more relevant to them, thus making your brand stronger.
Think Amazon Prime, which might be one of the best business innovations ever. It has become an integral element of the business, drawing has approximately 100 million faithful users as of 2018.
It has made Amazon indispensable to its consumers — is there another e-commerce platform that can match the offerings of Amazon Prime? This innovation made consumers a lot more loyal to Amazon.com. It was reported that Amazon Prime members have been found to spend way much more than non-prime members, making Amazon Prime a very profitable innovation indeed.
Applying innovation to the branding process allows you to be a leader and changemaker. In the 1950s, 3M pushed its employees to spend 15% of work hours on developing new ideas. This was soon adopted by companies such as LinkedIn to encourage employees to spend more time innovating.
Innovation enhances the brand. By innovating, you can find new ways to rework existing elements of the brand.
To illustrate this, let’s picture IKEA.
Though IKEA is, by definition, a Swedish furniture company, they’re also known for their tasty and affordable meatballs. This was a clever innovation as it value-added to IKEA’s image as a furniture company and attracted more consumers at the same time. Now, customers associate IKEA with two things — affordable furniture and yummy meatballs. TOC