In an ever-changing market where keeping up with trends and changing tastes is a full-time job, how does a brand successfully cultivate ideas that connect the market to our emotions and to the brand identity?
A successful brand image portrays authenticity and uniqueness in order to cultivate a strong relationship with their customers. A lot of marketers fall into the trap of a conformity paradox where they try to achieve too much and lose sight of their one differentiating factor. It is often difficult to break away from expectations and market set standards. As such, the brand could unwittingly adopt the language, imagery, and clichés of their industry.
Jeff Bezos said that “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn a reputation by trying to do hard things well”. Brands just like the people that run them, have the desire to stand out but fear they will not fit in. In order to break the curse of conformity, a brand must accentuate its authentic differentiating factor and create an image that feeds into the brand’s story. It is important to identify the common colors, designs, fonts, images, and tendencies used by competitors and have the courage to create in a space away from these conventions.
Another trap brands could fall into is the authenticity paradox. With a large portion of our lives focused online, we could sometimes forget that on the other end of this virtual reality is a real individual we are trying to connect with. A brand’s promise, or commitment to a social cause, or simply its vision and mission, should align with the brand’s way of doing business and should transparently be represented. A representative example that commits to its brand authenticity is Zero Waste Path. As their name suggests, they pledge to create products that are ethically and sustainably sourced and provide specific details on their website such as their agreements with their suppliers on waste-free shipping and packaging. The trust and authenticity this brand built can be contrasted with that of Facebook for instance where the COO’s “lean-in” movement was criticized as being impractical as no action was taken to support her advice.
The common factor across successful brands is their focus on their competitive differences and expertise, courage and confidence in their creativity, and authenticity. We must ask ourselves, does our brand break free from the rules and dogmas of the current market? Are we exploring and building on themes that do not conform?