The First Rule of Branding Has Nothing to Do With Branding

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By Anthony Sperduti, Executive Creative Director and Founder, Mythology

Many company leaders believe that building a really compelling brand will solve all of their problems and it would be easier to say that it does.

But that’s a little like betting that a great haircut will change your life.

The power of great brands comes first from within. An authentic story can’t be faked. If you start with a true reason to exist, you won’t have to worry about manufacturing meaning and consumer trust. It will come from a real, organic place.

Ironically, the most believable brands often come from people who were new to their category, like Fenty for one. They’re willing to rethink the things that others wouldn’t and are not afraid to ask why is this being done this way. They don’t hold precious old ideas. Everything is up for grabs. And that’s where the real breakthroughs come.

If you’re looking to create a great brand, make sure you do these three things:

1. Get the Company Right, First.

There are some companies whose unique proposition is so strong that the branding and marketing just happen—like Whole Foods Market, in the years leading up to its acquisition by Amazon.

But many companies do need a great brand. And you can’t build one if you’re selling something that’s only incrementally better than what’s out there.

Make sure you’re truly excited about your story (not your playbook) before you start brand building and the essence of the brand will almost create itself. There’s a real difference when brands are excited about meaningfully changing the way people live or consume and solving a problem in the marketplace.

2. Look Beyond Your Obvious Strengths.

Brands don’t always know what customers love about them—and it may be more than one attribute, working together at the same time.

Mythology client Warby Parker launched with a disruptive value proposition but that’s not the whole narrative of the brand. It also delivers style and a shopping experience that’s incredibly frictionless and digitally native—a fully thought-out model that’s innovative at every turn and a compelling personality. A great brand is focused but it’s also more than just one thing.

3. Keep Building and Evolving.

Brands aren’t static and they’re never fully baked – they live and breathe. Thus, brand building and definition should be a fluid exercise. Brands should always surprise and evolve, never betraying who they are at the core, while always asking: What is the best, most relevant way to express that?

That’s where a brand like LEGO shines. Think about what LEGO was 20 years ago. It has not looked or felt the “same” for generations because it is constantly morphing, evolving and experimenting to stay relevant for all generations but it has meant the same thing to consumers for decades. Ultimately, that’s the space where great branding lives.

Ultimately, to build a great brand, you need to know what you believe in and be willing to stand for it. That takes courage but there will always be space for brands with a unique point of view.

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