We often get asked about the most important aspect of a brand. To us, there are two things that make brands great.
First is being compelling to become desirable. Second is being consistent.
Very few brands achieve both.
Not everyone has the budget to be as omnipresent as Google or as widespread and detail-obsessive as Disney – and not everyone wants to be.
That’s why consistency is so important.
What is a brand?
When we talk about brands, we talk about a million different aspects – logos, colors, experiences, stories, photography, reputation. And in some ways, all of these things are right.
Together, they do make up a brand. But there’s still something missing. Why does this company exist? Why do people want to interact with it and associate with it? Why should people care?
In short, what does the company do in the world?
At Thorburn, we call this the “noble purpose.” It’s at the very core of every great brand. It’s what forges emotional connections and drives consumers to identify with the brand rather than simply buying a product.
The Power of Purpose
Digging deep into these questions takes time, reflection and research. At first, it might seem like a waste of resources since it doesn’t drive any immediate ROI. But brands that are purpose-driven and meaningful are outperforming competitors on the stock market by 134%. (Source: Havas Group Meaningful Brands® 2019 – Press Release)
Starting at the Top
If you think of a brand like a pyramid, the “why” is at the very top. It remains our guiding star, the constant thread guiding strategy and insight. All big key ideas are simple and powerful: Think Different. Stay Curious. Just Do It.
Once this idea is distilled, we build the pyramid downwards. The top tier expands on the core idea and digs deeper into the “why.” At Thorburn, this takes the form of a short statement of purpose that lays out the core ideals. The messaging, thinking and creative level are aspirational. It’s what the brand and consumers constantly work towards.
After that? That’s when the creative team gets to work building the foundations of the pyramid.
- How do you communicate these principles?
- How do you interact with your audience?
- How do you bring it to life?
Going back to our pyramid for a second, we break the messaging down into two sections: inspirational and educational.
Inspirational grows the affinity and forges a connection with the consumers – your brand shares their vision for the world and themselves.
Educational is the most widespread – it’s your awareness drivers. It’s the first touchpoints. It’s the introduction to your brand and your values.
Then Versus Now
Before digital communication became inseparably integrated with our lives, designing for touchpoints was a fairly straightforward, linear process – the classic sales funnel. Broadcast commercials and direct mail would raise awareness and educate the consumer. Packaging and in-store experiences would delight, inspire and close the deal.
Today, brands are much more integrated into our lives and the sales cycle is a lot more messy. The result is a web of channels and intent, where we as consumers switch between stages as we constantly evaluate our options, absorb content, research brands and compare competitors. And to complicate matters even further, we’re most definitely using multiple devices to do it.
It doesn’t matter the channel – social media, digital search, streaming, broadcast, reviews, website, packaging, email, in-store displays – if there’s no central idea holding the varied messaging and visual expressions together, the brand’s ethos gets muddled and the consumer eventually loses interest and moves on.
If, however, all your messaging and touchpoints have a common thread – a shared look, emotion, feeling – then there’s something driving the consumer forward. All the parts build to the top of the pyramid, to that core idea.
It might take a different form depending on the particular stage in the journey, but that key idea is there. Every touchpoint and every stage leads the consumer towards the answer of “why?”:
Why should they give your brand time and attention?
- Your creative is attention-grabbing and compelling.
- Your messaging elicits an emotional response.
Why should they support your brand – financially or through engagement or word-of-mouth?
- You understand their goals.
- You share their vision for the future.
Why should they purchase your product in particular?
- The product and brand is the item that best fits in their life.
- Supporting your brand is supporting an organization working to change the world for the better.
We’re not being hyperbolic. 55% of consumers believe brands actually have a more important role than our governments to create a better future.