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

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So when should companies change their brand’s identity? Sadly, the answer is for the most part, too often. Consumers’ brains store long-term information based on repeated exposure to like stimulus – they get hardwired.

Can you remember your grandmother’s bedroom? How it smelt, the ornaments, how the bed was to lie and jump on? So many of the businesses who need help repositioning their brands find themselves in trouble because each successive brand manager has been incentivised, on top of their inbuilt zeal, to fiddle with the brand identity to sell a few more boxes.

The time for companies to actively change their identity is when consumer sentiment, technology or competitive context has mutated significantly causing the brand to slip down the consumers’ Brand Premier League Table.

Skoda had to change its identity because the car industry fought for survival through an arms race of innovation, leaving the brand exposed as a butt of many a joke. Fortunately, Skoda managed to do it brilliantly.

Ryanair had to do it, because the spirit of the millennials condemns all those who denigrate others and feign generosity – but did it with a change of rhetoric but no true change of heart.

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For many of the global FMCG brand owners, the identity of their myriad of brands, with different consumers and competitive threats, will not mirror images of the corporate identity, but they should be concordant with the organisation’s purpose.

For service brands, the synchronicity is critical – humans are not good at pretending to be what they are not so the brand identity must be clear, inspiring and actionable for everyone.

During my time at a hotel once, the hi-tech entertainment system (TV) wasn’t working – it took 50 minutes for someone to arrive and declare their inability to do anything.

In contrast, in Denver, during my stay at Hotel Monaco from the Kimpton Group, the maid noticed my toothpaste was low while I was out and replaced it with a new one. No note, no request for thanks, no bill. That’s the owner of a clear and empowering brand identity.

Myles Ritson is the CEO and founding partner of Fusion Learning.

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