Building a brand that stands the test of time sounds, generally, like a good thing to aspire to.
And it is! So long as we understand that creating a brand that will last is not the same as creating a brand that never changes.
Countless brands come to mind when we think of those that have maintained good standing and high brand equity for years or even decades. Regardless of the first one, two, or dozen that pop in your head and irrespective of whether they are B2C or B2B, the thing they all have in common is that they have evolved.
And, whether they had the right brand elements for long term success at the beginning or whether they were incorporated along the way through that evolution, there are a few other common ingredients in the recipe for success:
Your brand should be born from your purpose. Why do you do what you do? Why did you decide to become a business owner? Why did you build your business, and why do you operate your business the way you do?
The brand you create (your brand identity and messaging) must match the brand people experience. Authenticity might sometimes feel like a buzzword, but it’s essential. People are receptive to being told what your business is like, but they’re not going to buy in unless they experience precisely that. Authentic brands set an expectation and deliver. The consequences of not doing so are lost trust and skepticism.
But if your brand comes from your purpose, you won’t have to worry. Purpose-driven brands last because their brand is more than words and images; it’s the entire experience.
Patagonia is my favourite example of authenticity. The way they operate directly reflects their core values and what is important to them. People like Patagonia because they have hard-wearing gear that looks good and lasts. People love them because they are whom they say they are.
Knowing your audience is vital. It is not just who your clients or customers are as individuals but also whom they aspire to be. Building a brand that is relatable to your audience or their aspirational selves is essential for fostering buy-in.
This ties into authenticity. Your ideal audience appreciates your authentic self. You can try to attract any audience you want, but if it’s not a natural fit, you’ll always be chasing them. You want to create a brand that brings people in.
There’s no value in trying to be everything to everyone. Building a brand that is everything to someone specific is the goal.
Simplicity is the key to understanding. The less we must do to get our message across clearly, the stronger the message.
Simplicity is also tricky. It requires creativity and for the sender to have a deep understanding of both the message and the intended receiver.
Evolution might seem like a “down the road” kind of thing. But if you think of a brand evolution as something you might have to do one day, you need to change your mindset to one of constant brand evolution.
Your brand should never be static. It should continually grow, adapt, and respond to outside and inside forces. No matter how much your brand evolves, it will always be true to you and your audience if your purpose drives it.
So, embrace evolution. Don’t wait for the day things aren’t working and decide it’s time for a change. Evolve now. And tomorrow. And the next day. And over the course of the next year. Evolve your brand as needed. People are constantly growing and evolving. Why shouldn’t your brand?