Brand. Smash. Rebuild. Repeat

In this post, Brand. Smash. Rebuild. Repeat, Reid Mueller explains that creating a good brand requires knowledge of your company’s identity and your customer’s needs or wants, and illustrates how you can do what 4 big brands have done by re-builing their brands to thrive. This is part of our guest blogger series. Read more about Reid in his bio, below.  If you would like to be a guest blogger for BrandTwist contact Jamie@BrandTwist.com for more information.

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My brother and I were blessed to grow up in a home with Star Wars, Lego and a 2nd floor balcony – the Holy Trinity of childhood. We spent countless hours building Lego spaceships and drop-testing from the balcony. When they broke, we figured out where and how we could make them stronger. When they didn’t break on the carpet, we dropped from the other side onto the tile. They always broke. Engineers test products in the same way to ensure they work. As marketers, we should do this for our brands using the following process.

BUILD THE BRAND BASED ON WHAT YOU WANT YOUR COMPANY TO BE.

Unfortunately, branding a company is harder than branding a cow (even so, I’ll be the first to say that I wouldn’t approach a cow with a smoldering iron for fear of getting a hoof to the head). A brand is more than a name, title or words on a page. Much like a Lego spaceship, a brand is the sum of your company’s products, culture, logo, user-experience, story—viewed through the lens of a customer’s perception. Creating a good brand requires knowledge of your company’s identity and your customer’s needs or wants (it doesn’t matter how well you build a green light-saber; Darth Vader will always buy the red one). This requires strategic development through market research business objectives and long-term planning. Now it’s time to put the pieces together and test the brand.

 THROW IT AGAINST A BRICK WALL AS HARD AS YOU CAN. 

According to Martin Lindstrom, CEO of Buyology Inc., the idea of a “smashable” brand dates back to 1915 when Coca-Cola requested a bottle designed to be identifiable even when thrown against a wall. As we can all attest, they found what they were looking for. So how do you smash your brand? Remove your logo from one of products, ads or website. When you look again, can you still recognize it as your brand? Can someone else? Is your brand as recognizable as the following “broken brands”?

PICK UP THE PIECES. WHAT’S IMPORTANT? WHAT’S MEMORABLE? THROW AWAY EVERYTHING ELSE.

As you can see in the examples above, the smallest elements of your brand are the most critical. No doubt Apple wouldn’t be what it is today if Steve Jobs had not sat in on a calligraphy class when he wasn’t in college. Now the Apple brand is weaved into the font of every word they print. Ask yourself what pieces work. Do you have brand elements that don’t align with your business objectives or your target markets? Look at Harley-Davidson. What if you replaced the “bar and shield” logo with the “Twitter” bird? Would it be successful in Comic Sans Am?

REPEAT UNTIL YOU HAVE AN INTEGRATED BRAND (OR YOU THROW YOUR SHOULDER OUT).

Branding, like anything else, requires endless revision. However, a strong brand paradoxically requires consistency as well. For this reason we hesitate to partake in brand-breaking. We see our brand as the Waterford vase from our grandparents as a wedding gift that goes up on the shelf and never gets touched; that way it never breaks. The problem is that we live in an interactive society where that vase will be removed from the shelf, thrown around like a football, maybe dropped off the balcony for a “science project” about gravity. You cannot be afraid to have your brand touched, because customers will take it down and break it apart whether you like it or not.

This post by Reid Mueller is part of our guest blogger series. Reid is currently working towards a Master’s of Science in Marketing Communications from the University of Kansas.  This post appears as part of BrandTwist’s participation in  “Blogapalooza” a platform from the University to help students seeking Master’s Degrees in Integrated Marketing Communications gain valuable experience and exposure in blogging. We hope you enjoyed Reid’s post as much as we did. 

If you are interested in being a BrandTwist guest blogger, please email jamie@herculiz.com for details. 

Click here for more about Brand School, our highly effective, premier branding program to help you build your brand to grow your business.

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