Konstrukt Design, Sydney

What is the first brand you remember?

By: Peter Cooper


What is the first brand you remember?

Not the first brand that comes to mind, but thinking back, as a kid, what was the earliest recollection you have of a specific brand, and its connection to an experience?

Maybe it was Barbie. Maybe it was McDonalds, Lego, Pokemon or Nintendo…

Whatever your memory uncovers, an awareness of that early association between a word and a broad supply (not just ‘your’ whatever), is a good reminder of the power of brand.

In business, achieving a true, sustainable competitive advantage based purely on product attributes is incredibly difficult, and I don’t know of many companies that genuinely achieve this. Many physical products are not well differentiated from one another – and when they are, the advantage seldom lasts long before a competitor closes the gap. With services it’s even harder, and competitors can emulate an offering very quickly.

Curating a brand that builds upon, and enhances the offerings of an organisation is another way to add value and help people make choices with confidence. Organisations with a respected, established name, have a position of strength relative to potential newcomers and when introducing new products.

Refining and building a brand involves a range of considerations. Key to this is understanding that the process is an ongoing conversation with the market, (and that the market is made up of people!)

It must be clear what the brand represents. An organisation’s strategy, brand and offerings are interdependent and should be aligned. Products (both goods & services) and brand communications should match where an organisation is, or wants to be. Failing to do so confuses the message and risks diluting the value of the brand.

A brand cannot be everything to everybody. A tiered, multi-brand approach can help when a company chooses to leverage their strengths across a broad range of segments. BMW, who also own MINI and Rolls Royce understand that a brand should not be overstretched.

Visual representations can (and probably should) evolve to keep them strong and relevant. Famous logos such as Disney and Google have been subtly refined over the years, even though many people may not realise.

Evolution of Twitter logo.

Though visual representation is important, brand is much more than logo. A ‘NASCAR’ approach of bold livery should not be necessary. When done well, there is sufficient consideration and consistency of visual cues, (such as uniforms, packaging, retail displays, physical product, advertising, interactions) that the brand is communicated effectively, without shouting.
Good design can convey brand effectively. You may be able to identify one or more of these German car brands, even with logos removed!

Brand is a tangible snapshot of an organisation’s strategy. It communicates both externally, to the market, and internally to staff. Emotive words like ‘ultimate, remarkable, and innovative’ are hollow if the organisations offerings are not ‘on brand’, or clearly striving towards that goal.

The experience an organisation provides, whether through goods or services (or most often, a hybrid of the two) should reinforce the brand and vice versa. The magic happens when organisations recognise the interrelationship between experience, brand & strategy; their connection to people; and work continuously to enhance these relationship and make meaningful contributions.

Brand is incredibly powerful. Hopefully that first brand you remember is still going strong and brings back pleasant memories!