During the infancy of marketing, a brand used to be an abstract and often misunderstood concept used by marketing managers simply to label a product and differentiate it from the competition. The core of a company’s branding efforts was its logo, which was ideally designed to portray trustworthiness, reliability, and friendliness. Thus it was meant to be unchanging, solid and simple. Since then, a lot has changed.
The modern markets of today are truly global and hypercompetitive and, in addition to this, the barriers for market entry have been drastically lowered. This means that new agile brands can have such a large effect on the market that they can turn the industry on its head in a matter of months. Agile brands are the antithesis of the monolithic brands of yesteryear; they constantly seek out opportunity and are multi-platformed, and also have an active rather than reactive philosophy and mindset. Most importantly, they are highly in tune with global trends and influences and are decidedly outward looking.
It used to be that a product was sold solely on its merits, physical attributes and intrinsic value for the customer. In short, if a product was good, it would sell. However, the supersaturated global market requires companies to have a strong brand identity so that the customer forms an emotional bond and loyalty to it. The brand identity also serves various other important functions such as improving brand awareness, employee motivation and establishing communication method synergy. Arguably, the most important aspect of a brand’s identity is the brand promise, which is increasingly more important and lasting than abstract ideas and visual material.
There have never been more options for marketing than there are today. If a brand is to succeed and prosper, it has to take advantage of every marketing avenue at its disposal. The average consumer is bombarded by hundreds of advertisements a day, from print media such as newspapers, magazines, newsletters, flyers, billboards, all the way to TV and radio commercials, and internet marketing. It’s not easy to say just how old print advertising actually is. There are examples of printed pieces dating back to early Egyptian times, complete with some of the most important aspects of a successful advertising campaign – originality and value. Sadly, print ads are slowly dying out in favor or digital media and the future of print advertising in traditional print media looks pretty grim, even though – if done right – it still is a very effective way to reach consumers and grab their attention. If an advertisement, in whatever format, creates value for the consumer, it is far more likely to build customer loyalty than a mere presentation of the product or service.
The consumer mentality is undoubtedly a unique sign of our times, and it is unclear if marketing has created this state of affairs or if it is simply catering to it. Whatever the case, we are by and large defined by our brand preferences, and visual brand identities have become an extension of our personas. For this reason, successful companies nowadays invest heavily on a consistent visual style. While the style is consistent, specifics are always prone to change in order to captivate and cater to the ever changing customer needs. Even large brands such as Pepsi have taken drastic measures to keep the brand fresh by revamping their logo, while still keeping its iconic shape and color scheme.