This may sound crass, but we are not all that different from the dogs in Ivan Pavlov’s classical conditioning experiment – in the way we form associations, of course.
Like the bells that were rang each time the dogs were fed, we too, respond to bells in our world when we form associations with logos, colours and symbols. It is true that the aesthetic elements of a brand acts as a proxy to a perception we have about a particular product or company.
However, to think that branding is entirely about adding a ‘swoosh’, or some coloured brush stroke to your logo would be akin to splashing some red paint onto an old jalopy and expecting it to perform like a supercar.
Sustainable and favourable brands are not seen, but experienced.
Companies with a fair understanding of branding will know that experiential brands are crafted with the customer’s journey in mind. If the essence of a particular brand revolved around the idea of “Being Inspirational”, it would align all of its customer touchpoints towards this question – “How can we inspire our customers?”
Walk into such a store and you would find inspirational quotes on the wall. You would also find vivid images of people in action and videos of people doing the impossible would be playing on loop. Energetic staff would be there to assist you, should you need their help. Products will be displayed in ways that highlight its best features. Customers will be able to imagine themselves experiencing the product and payment would be a breeze as the customer walks out, with a bag in hand – one that they are proud to be associated with.
All of these work in sync to achieve one single purpose – to enable the customer to find inspiration in their own pursuits.
Nike is one such brand.
What then separates strong brands from truly phenomenal ones?
Those that have their brands deeply rooted in the ground.
It Isn’t An Overnight Affair…
For the first 4 years of its life, the Chinese Bamboo plant is merely a tiny shoot that pokes out of the ground. In fact, it does not seem to grow at all during this period of time – at least from the outside.
Nurturing such a plant can be a frustration as incessant effort and time is spent on it. What actually happens is that the Chinese Bamboo plant spends 4 years developing its root system before shooting up to 90 feet in height within an astonishing five weeks in its 5th year.
Phenomenal brands are nurtured in the very same way.
A company’s ‘root system’ is in its people and internal culture. Brands that truly understand this craft its internal policies to support its brand strategy. It looks internally and asks questions like “Is our workplace inspiring our employees?”, “Do our policies promote freedom and creativity?”, “Do we have the tools that will bring out the best in our people?”…”Are we doing enough to inspire action?”
Phenomenal brands pay attention to its foundations. It looks beyond the aesthetics and its external façade because these brands understand that market reach, brand recall and profits are a result of building a strong pool of people who sincerely believe in the brand’s idea.
Everything else is an effect.