Storytelling is the foundation of any successful marketing campaign and key to setting your brand apart. Brands in today’s market need to understand the power of stories to transform their online presence and build trust, along with a connection with their audience. In fact, by telling a compelling story, brands can create an emotional connection with their customers, conveying their brand message in a more effective way. To the extent that, if the campaign is on point… marketing can even spark a movement.
At D+M, we work in this competitive landscape every day, partnering with our clients to establish entirely new brands or evolve existing ones. Through our research, we’ve found that the most successful brands are the ones that tell a good story. Lacking to do this, will lead to a struggle to differentiate in the space in which you compete – and convey the true brand personality. Brands that take the shortcut appear strikingly similar. Rather than embarking on a dedicated brand development process, these brands took the easy route of emulating their competitors, hoping (and praying) to achieve others' success. Unfortunately, this approach rarely yields any favourable outcomes and fails to capture the essence of a genuine brand story.
When working on brands, we immerse ourselves in understanding the brand in question and the target audience segments it aims to reach. This one-offinvestment of time and effort is an integral part of the process. Our team leaves no stone unturned, from meticulously crafting questionnaires to gain invaluable insights from stakeholders, to engaging in a series of meetings and conversations aimed at unraveling the intricacies of the business to identify the desired audience it aspires to attract. We culminate this journey with interactive workshops, allowing us to discern where the business can carve its niche and truly differentiate itself from competitors. It is through this differentiation that the brand is able to assert its unique identity.
"Developing your brand alone is hard work; you need to surround yourself with others who share your passion for your brand."
Every brand journey is unique because every story is unique. This needs to be amplified along with the core assets and elements that define its DNA. When shaping a brand, we continually ask ourselves questions such as:
- Who is the customer and how can we tell the story in a way that is both compelling and unforgettable?
- What will resonate with them?
- Who are the true competitors and what strategies are they employing?
- Are we imitating their approach or do we have a genuine story to tell with something different to offer?
The ease of entry into the market has allowed digitally native brands (DNBs) to thrive, often flooding the marketplace with their offerings. Consequently, some well-established brick-and-mortar brands have suffered, failing to successfully transition into the online realm and neglecting to provide current and potential customers, with an immersive brand experience tailored to their preferences.
In addition, the rise of AI and its associated options and platforms can steer us away from thinking creatively. Your brand will never be unique and original if you rely on AI to guide you. AI can provide you with a mixed bag of what has existed in the past but will never provide original creative thought or a bespoke process.
If your brand has stood the test of time, it is crucial to assess whether it accommodates the needs and desires of those drawn to it. Are you enabling them to experience your brand in the way they desire and at the time they prefer?
Remember, you need more than just a logo; you need a comprehensive brand that tells a captivating story.
At D+M we are currently working on a number of brand journeys, with some of our partners requiring a complete new brand or an evolution of the existing brand. While conducting some research recently, I was surprised to find the poor quality and relevance of some brands in specific retail categories. Just about all the retail brands competing in this space did not have any differentiation or execute the brand personality very well. In fact, they all looked very similar. It seemed like when it came to developing their brand, they took an easy option and focused on what the competition was doing. Then executed something similar, probably with a mindset of ‘if that brand is doing well, then creating something similar would guarantee a successful and cheaper pathway’, instead of committing to a brand journey process.
When I work on brands one thing is for sure, I make it my business to understand the brand I am working on and the target audience segments. This investment of time to understand how the brand can compete is part of the process. The amount of time and effort I spend on this, along with my team to get it right, is enormous. There are no shortcuts, from writing questionnaires for stakeholders to fill out and provide more insight, ensuring the relevant questions are asked, to participating in a series of meetings and conversations to learn more about the business and the audience they want to attract. Concluding with facilitating workshops to really understand where the business can compete and where it can truly differentiate when compared to competitors. It is this differentiation that will set the brand apart.
Some people do not place importance on this process, which is why most brands fail. The marketplace is a busy world, especially in the digital ecosystem, hence growth requires good branding. Every brand wants your attention and being clear about who you are and being able to clearly communicate that is key.
“Developing your brand alone is hard work, you need to surround yourself with others that are just as passionate about your brand as you are”
Every brand journey is unique, but at the end of the day, the brand must amplify the core assets and elements of that brand’s DNA. When I commence working on a brand, I tend to continually ask myself these questions:
Who is the customer and if I had 3 seconds of their time, how am I going to tell the story about this brand for it to get noticed? What will that customer remember?
Who are the real competitors and what are they doing? Is our brand doing the same thing and what is it doing that is truly different?
Low barriers to entry have allowed digital native brands (DNB) to compete very well in the market. But not without flooding the marketplace. As a result of this, some of the good old bricks and mortar brands are suffering, because they have not evolved their brands very well into an online brand. They are not allowing their customers or potential customers to experience the brand the way the customer wants to interact with it. It’s sad to see.
If your brand has been around for a while, take a look and ensure it accommodates those who are attracted to it, and you are letting them experience it the way and when they want to. You need a brand, not just a logo. Branding goes beyond an eye-catching logo; it is rooted in strategy and vision. While a logo is important in creating a visual identity and establishing memorable branding, it is ultimately useless without a strong brand behind it.
Keeping the focus on the consumers and how they engage with the brand, will answer if you need to relook at your brand and evolve it or start again, as it is possible it will give you the presence and differentiation you need.