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Should You Be Building An Iconic Brand?

ByAlexHiam,author,MarketingForDummies Aniconisapotentsymbol,traditionallyassociatedwithreligioninsomecultures.In theU.S.,acountrywhereconsumerismisvirtuallyareligion,it'snosurprisethatthe termhasbeenborrowedtodescribethemostmeaningfulofbrandidentities.The Starbucksnameandlogohavehighrecognitionandconveyaclearmeaning­ sophisticatedcoffeeforbusyprofessionals.Peoplewholikeastrongespressohave buttoseetheubiquitousgreensirenlogoandtheirmouthswaterforanother.The applewithabiteoutofitofMacintoshcomputersisprobablyalsoworthyofthe "iconicbrand"identification.

Unique is Different from Popular

EveryoneknowstheCocaColabrand,butIwouldn'tcallitaniconicbrand.Itlacks thequirkilydefiningpersonalityofanicon.Asasymbol,it'sreallytoowellknownto standforanythingiconic.Toclarifythispoint,thinkoficonicstars­actorsor athleteswhoaresofamousfortheiruniquelookorstylethattheyhavecometo representtheirstyle,notjustthemselves(amuchshorterbutlongerlivedsetof starsthananylistoftoday's`mostpopular'). CocaColaistheheavyhittingdominantbrandnameofthesodaworld,andthat's enough.Itdoesn'tneedtobeiconictoo.

An Iconic Success

HermanMillergetsmyvoteforagreaticonicbrand.This companypioneeredthemodernlookinfurnitureinthe fiftiesandsixties(EamesChairs,forexample),andmore recently,stagedacomebackwiththeAeronChair,itself aniconicbrandbynow.Thecompanynameisnotaswell knownamongconsumersas,say,StarbucksorMacintosh brands,butthecompanydoesnotalwaysmarketto consumers.It'saniconicBtoBbrand,withsalesto furnitureretailersandtotheofficedesignandfurnishings industry.Itsoccasionalhomerunsinthehomemarket giveitacertainstylishlusterthathelpskeepitaliveasan iconoffresh,creativedesignconcepts.Noteveryone knowsthebrand,butthosewhodohaveaclearaffinity foritandastrongsenseofthestyleanddesigneleganceit represents.

Caution: Avoid Price-based Promotion!

HermanMillerspentthreequartersofamilliontosettleapricefixinglawsuitoutof court.Why?Thecompanypushesprettyhardtominimizeadvertisingofcheap pricesbyitsretailers.Ithinkthey'rerighttodowhattheycan,withinthelawof

course,tokeepthemessageonthebrand'selegantstyleanddesignandnoton pricing.

The Iconic Path to Brand Success

Ifyou,likemostofus,areworkingwithabrandthatlackstheworldwide,instant recognizabilityofaCocaColaorMcDonalds,yourpathtosuccessmightbetokeep hittingconsumersovertheheadwithaconsistentbrandidentityuntilyourunaided awarenessratingsrise.However,givesomethoughttotheiconicbrandalternative instead. Canyoubuildaclear,strong,stylish,uniqueimageforyourbrand?Canyougiveit suchauniquepersonalitythatitgainsaspecific,clear,appealingmeaninginspiteof thebrandclutterplaguingmostmarkets?Brands,likestars,comeandgo.Toendure overthelonghaul,youhavetobecomeadominantmassmarketbrand,oryoucan becomeauniqueiconwithadistinctivepersonalitythatallowsyoutolivebeyond thelimitsofanyspecificproduct'slifecycle­likeHermanMillerhas.Foronething (andit'saverybigthing!),iconicbrandscostfarlesstobuildandmaintainthan massmarketbrands.It'sacaseofmarketingsmartversusmarketinghard.

Being Unique Above All Else

Thereisatendencyamongsome,evenatthemostillustriousbusinessschools,to treattheterm`iconic'asatrendysynonymforsuccessfulmassmarketbrands. Iconicbrandsareunique,special,distinctive,andhaveverystrongandappealing personalities.Theyhavethekindofrecognitionthat,say,theactorCaryGrantused tohaveandstilldoesamongthosewhowatcholdmovies.Nomatterwhatthefilm (orbrandnarrative),itwasalways,obviously,CaryGrantintheleadrole.Hisiconic brandidentityeclipsedanyspecificrole,anditprovedsopersonalthatnobodytook itoverwhenheretired. That'swhatyouwanttostriveforasyoubuildaniconicbrand.Giveitaunique personalityandahighlydistinctivevoice,thenbetruetoitspersonalityandvoice nomatterwhat.Iniconicbranding,thebrand'sidentitytrumpseverythingelsein themarketingplan.Don'textendaniconicbrandtoofar,forexample,oryou'llwater downitsmeaningandlosethespecialboostinsalesandloyaltythatyouriconic statusconfers.(Areyoulistening,AppleandStarbucks?)

Copyright©2009byAlexHiam,www.insightsformarketing.com

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Building An Iconic Brand

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