Brands – just be yourself

Brands need to stay true to the vision, values and reality of the businesses they represent. It sounds obvious but so often it isn’t the case. Brands normally miss the spot in one of two ways…

Reason one.

The first, and most common way, is when a brand oversells the business. Brands are always going to put their best foot forward, that’s to be expected. The issues arise when brands promise the world, but what they end up delivering doesn’t quite match up.

The reality is, brands that overpromise will always be found out in the end. The products and services delivered by the company won’t live up to consumer expectations, resulting in a loss of trust in the brand and a heavily tarnished reputation. It’s really not worth it.

Recently, Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson called out a number of high profile brands for making lofty claims at a brand level and then failing to back them up from a business perspective. Starbucks, who claim to ‘inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time’ were reminded that the best way to do this was by “paying their f******* taxes”. He’s got a point.

The reason so many brands are able to overclaim is because there’s one thing missing from the vast majority of brand models – whether it’s the brand key, the eye or even the onion (apparently brands have layers…nice). The thing missing is accountability. These models often focus on the creation of beautifully written brand promises, purposes or positioning statements, whilst failing to think about what really matters to the customer – proof.

That’s why at Home, our brand model focuses on ‘Actions’ as much as it focuses on any promise we make. If a brand cannot provide customers with multiple reasons to believe in its brand promise, then the model can’t be completed and it’s back to the drawing board. At times this can be frustrating, but in the long run it’s the right thing to do – for the brand in question and ultimately for its customers.

Reason two.

The second way brands can miss the mark is down to modesty.

To build a brand that stays true to the business, you need to understand the business inside and out. To do this we have a number of different techniques, but in a nutshell, you need to spend time in that business, and with the people who make the business what it is. Site visits, stakeholder interviews, employee surveys and internal workshops are all invaluable tools in this respect.

The reason I talk about modesty is because when we spend time getting to know our clients I’m often taken aback by the values, the passion, the different approaches and the enthusiasm shown within these businesses. Truly inspiring people, innovative ways of working, dedication to perfection; all of which takes place behind closed doors, unbeknownst to the customer. Clients often see these things as run of the mill, nothing particularly special or newsworthy, but we can use these insights to weave incredibly powerful stories which capture the imagination of our audiences and lay the foundations of the brand we look to create.

We all know that as people, if you’re honest with yourself and others, you’ll attract the right sort of friends and partners; creating long term, meaningful relationships. It’s the same for brands and businesses. So, whether you’re nervously preparing for a first date or you’re trying to create a strong and confident brand, the advice from me is the same… just be yourself.

If you fancy learning more about Home’s branding process, then check out our latest campaign, TRU Love, which applies our TRU Framework to fellow Homie, Miles. Why? In the hope of helping him achieve his goals, find TRU love, and develop his own personal brand along the way…