Thursday, April 01, 2010

LinkedIn Group discussion on the “attributes of an iconic brand”

Those of you who know me know that I love LinkedIn.  With some 4,975 connections at last count, I’ve been able to use the network to share ideas and referrals – and ultimately meet business partners – all over the world.  (By the way, I invite you to connect with me. Click here.)

Beyond the directory database of connections, I enjoy the LinkedIn Groups that can generate engaging discussions.

Recently Simon Edwards, a brand manager at 3M in Reading, UK sparked a stimulating exchange with this: “I'm having an interesting discussion with my team, what are the common attributes of an iconic brand?”

I thought I’d share a few of the responses Simon got from brand marketers across the globe.

Jason Mlicki
Owner, Mlicki
Columbus, OH

Some underlying attributes tend to be focus, clarity and authenticity. However, all iconic brands tend to connect customers with an overreaching philosophy that fosters emotional connection between the customer and the brand. Examples of brands and the emotions they foster:
  • Nike = Performance. "I feel like I can run faster or jump higher when I wear my Nikes."
  • Target = Affordable Design. "At Wal-Mart, I get the best price. At Target, I get style and price."
  • Apple = CounterCulture. "I want style, simplicity and usability. My Mac says to the world that I'm different and unique. In short, I hate Windows and everything it represents."
Ian West
Managing Director at One-Marketing Ltd
Chelmsford, UK

I think the key word here is 'common' - asking what attributes iconic brands share. Picking up on Jason's comment, these are essentially differentiators in terms of the brand narratives. In some of the research projects I am working on we look for 'brand cohorts': First asking a sample to attach emotional qualities to brands in question (represented by logos). Then we ask a second sample to assemble groups of brands together into cohorts that share similar values - finally we analyse the emotional qualities against the groups. In this way we hope to build up a database of brands and their atributes to use as benchmarks for new branding exercises.

Ed Burghard
CEO and Manager at The Burghard Group
Cincinnati, OH

The typical way I teach this is that a brand must meet 5 key criteria. Iconic brands meet them with excellence and are proactively managed over time to do so. The 5 criteria are - relevancy, competitiveness, authenticity, clarity of promise, consistency of communication. The hard work is the proactive management of the brand (including product development) to ensure the 5 criteria are delivered.

Michael L Price
Integrated Marketing Missionary, Agency Pro, Blogger, and Social Media Apostle
Philadelphia, PA

At its heart each iconic brand has the following:
  1. An intangible connection
  2. It never changes thus leaving a lasting impression
  3. It inspires
And each one of these attributes resonates across both the external and internal stakeholders.

John Furgurson
Owner, BNBranding
Eugene, OR

I agree with all that, but here's another way to think about it: Iconic brands have a compelling story to tell. When that story is told over time, it establishes that intangible connection that inspires, is authentic, clear, competitive, etc etc.
Louise Barfield
Development Director at CRICKET Ltd
London, UK

Agree there's another dimension - some brands embody an emotional response - they literally transport you or provide a means of escape, or invite you to join a different community or 'gang'. That's beyond iconic, perhaps (but, let's face it, iconic is an over-used term in branding) but 'transformational' brands leave a mark like no other.

Brenton Schmidt
Differentiation Zealot, Brand Strategy Shaper, Authenticity Evangelist
Kitchener, Canada

To build on the ideas related to story telling...

Coke is often defined as an iconic brand because of the deep meaning the brand carries. Iconic brands often align with an archetypal character and story which is instantly recognizable, psychologically stimulating and meaningful.

Coke embodies the Innocent archetype as expressed through their advertising from polar bears to Santa Claus or the classic 'I'd like to teach the world to sing' campaign.

From the inside cover of 'Hero and The Outlaw-Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes':

Some brands are so extraordinary that they become larger-than-life, symbolic of entire cultures, admired by consumers the world over. But in spite of all the banter about branding, few companies come even close to developing such iconic identities for their brands.

The authors suggest that the way to do this is by tapping into archetypes or deep psychic imprints to gain meaning, market share for your brand.

Stephen Abbott
Brand Strategist, Managing Partner, Octopus Strategies
Vancouver, Canada

I would like to add 'Leadership' to the list of attributes already mentioned.

It's not about market share, though; iconic brands play by their own rules. These brands tend to break the preconceived notion of function, service, style or culture, catching the competition off guard and finding unprecedented loyalty (which the competition promptly argues is illogical based on "feature facts", as if those matter.)

Andy Wright
Marketing Director - Men's at ACP Magazines
Sydney, Australia

An iconic brand plays a valued role in a consumer's life. They deliver a feeling that the consumer just can't get from any other brand. That feeling may be security, safety, familiarity, excitement, satisfaction, indulgence or many others. These feelings are delivered through the brand experience, when you pick up the phone to a call centre, visit a store, open the packaging, see a TV ad, open the lid of a laptop - lots of smaller defining brand moments that add value to an overall experience.

Jeetendra Lalwani
Brand manager at Bates 141
Mumbai, India

I would like to say for a brand to be iconic, it has to constantly innovative, understand the new trends and deliver on the same. Since I am from india and cricket is the passion here. I would like to state the example of Sachin Tendulkar. He is a star who has delivered on all the fronts whether it is Test cricket or One days. Even today when the game has changed rapidly and adopted the 20-20 format he is still a superstar unlike other stars like dravid, Ganguly who have failed on that front. Sachin Tendulkar is surely a true replica of an iconic brand
Sherry Paprocki
Author, President of Paprocki Ltd.
Columbus, OH

Think Abecrombie & Fitch. If that strong emotional bond isn't formed with a target audience, nothing else will happen. Appeal to the five senses.

No comments: