building brand

It seems like you can’t swing a dead cat these days without hitting an ad guy espousing the benefits of evolving your brand. So how do you separate the pretenders from the contenders? How can you tell the hucksters from the buck-sters? In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Turn on your TV, go online, read a magazine – do you see much evolution out there? We see a lot of stuff that looks exactly the same. Do not confuse wacky advertising with brand evolution. In fact, we believe one of the biggest reasons everything looks the same is because most of it is just plain wacky and there is no actual evolutionary branding. Anyone can stick a new logo on the ad, that’s not evolution, either.

Here are 5 ways to really be evolve your brand in your messaging:

1) Talk to your core (but invite others to listen in). In this era of specialization, you can’t be everything to everybody. Stop trying to appeal the largest common denominator. Be a reductionist, both in your messaging and your targeting. Brands evolve from the inside out.

2) Stop talking to yourself. An unexpected insight cannot come from within – it must be discovered externally. The simplest insights are unexpected. Reject complexity. Be simplistic. You can tell the brands that are talking to themselves: their messages are complicated. Evolution is simplistic…natural.

3) Sell something with your ad. It’s not trendy, or wacky but selling your product or service hard is not for the faint of heart. It’s hip these days to say, “people don’t want to be sold and they are bombarded with messages all day.” Okay, so what? In the face of that how will you sell? Some agencies do this very well. They’re not ashamed to drive transactions.

4) Be a category of ONE. Courage means having the conviction to break away from the conventions of your category. Most brands can swap their logos with their competitors and nobody would really be able to tell the difference. The insurance category is a recent exception; Flo, The Duck and Mayhem are distinctly different directions within the same category.

5) Trust your eyes and ears. If it can’t pass the “out loud test” – it will fail. You’re a smart marketer, so prove it. Maybe the best campaign of this century is Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World.” It’s the first time a beer brand sold beer to a target that “doesn’t always drink beer.” But, it works because it was the smartest approach for the brand. It was the smartest way to talk to their target. This is brand evolution at its best.

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