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Live or die? Why brand identity will decide a company’s fate

3 Mins

Consumers have been given the freedom to trawl the net, to explore digital media, to share through networks that deny geography and what did they do with it? They chose who to listen to, how to value what they heard and when to dip in and out of conversations with and about the brand.

Organisations need champions of brand identity like never before – not just to create a stunning brand identity model but to champion its translation into consistent, coherent, compelling behaviours, aligned to a heartfelt purpose. Companies need those individuals whose passion for their brand is infectious, within the company and beyond.

Jeremy Bullmore, a renowned advertising guru and non-executive director of WPP, one of the biggest multinational advertising companies, prophetically and heretically said over a decade ago: “There is no such thing as a global brand.”

The reason Bullmore said this was because a brand only exists in the mind of any one consumer. That of course has always been physiologically true – the brain is not a tape recorder. It chooses what to acknowledge and what to embrace and then it attaches value to that thought.

However, if a brand taps the water in the US, it ripples through Europe in the blink of an eye. If the brand behaves inconsistently in local geographies, the world knows. Brand schizophrenia is a growing disease.

A company’s brand identity champions can play an important role in ensuring that the business executes brilliantly in local markets and that the melodies sung in each market combine to create one deafening, consistent chorus.

Service industries are the most prone to brand identity crises. Unless there is a very clear identity model, converted into crystal clear operating principles that people can understand and implement, the ink remains on the page rather than flowing through people’s veins.

To understand why designing a clear identity model is so important for businesses, look at Jack Astors, a casual dining restaurant chain.

The company needed a brand identity model which it could then translate into a brand culture that everyone from boardroom to kitchen could understand. The chain has developed from one restaurant and the vision of its creator, Peter Fowler, into one of Canada’s largest restaurant chains but it could only grow further if the brand understood the spirit and culture of its founder.

The day the brand identity model was developed and launched, Peter said “I’ve had jack in my head for 20 years and now he’s out on paper”. The business grew ten per cent over the next two years in a fiercely competitive and falling market. That’s the power of identity.

Continue on the next page to find out when you should change your firm’s brand identity and also where your grandmother’s bedroom fits into the strategy.

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