Brand building is going though a revolution.
It's fascinating, and dare I say it - slightly entertaining - to watch some of the most well-known, and previously respected, brands flounder and bullshit their way through 2020, with the same tools and thinking that used to be relevant 10 years ago.
Now these old, tired, brand strategies just make us think of an old man trying to be cool on a dance floor.
A recent article, published by McKinsey, makes some useful statements and offers some perspective on how the age old journey of commercial brand building should be viewed these days.
Just like Bob Dylan did performing at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 - it is time to take a chance on the future of effective brand building - it's time to go electric.
The story goes like this
'At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, Bob Dylan went electric. He plugged his guitar into an amp and proceeded to play his first all-electric set. The chords were the same as before, but the arrangements were new—a new sound for a new age. A lot of traditionalists hated it. But Dylan was never afraid to try something new, and it’s safe to say he was onto something when he went electric.'
Here's the video of exactly that - Bob Dylan taking a gamble on going electric in front of thousands of fans.
The Bob Dylan analogy links to the need for business to take their brand building efforts far more seriously, because unless you are creating commercial value through the development of unbelievably great and unique technology; the only other way you are going to deliver sustainable financial margins from your operations, is by having a great brand.
A strong brand is what takes your business from being replaceable by your competitors, to having the agency to call your own future.
The value of strong brands
'Strong brands consistently outperform the market. The world’s 40 strongest brands yielded almost twice the total return to shareholders (TRS) of an investment in a Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) World index certificate over the course of the 20-year period ending in 2019.'
The three sources of brand strength
'Brands draw their power from three sources: science (insights generation and performance measurement), art (creativity), and craft (management and execution). In times of rapid change, strong brands particularly need the benefits of these robust foundations: a deep understanding of customers and the market based on rigorously tested concepts, a clear purpose brought to life by creativity, and an inspiring brand experience delivered consistently across all touch-points to drive both brand perception and business performance.'
Science, art & craft - a new trilogy of brand excellence.
What it comes down to, is that modern brand building is an active process of carefully listening to people, innovating new products and ways of doing things, creating compelling stories and narratives that inspire people to act and be involved with your purpose; and then having the ability to ensure that this audacious promise is delivered with passion and consistency by your organisation.
That sounds like far more than simply creating a 'fire and forget' strategic document, once a year, based largely on the financial performance of the year before and then letting accountants decide on how much money you can throw at making it real.
People expect more from the brands they support these days - the future of brand building will be far more hands-on, and will need senior leadership to champion.
It is indeed the time to go electric.
Just make sure that you have a highly-skilled lead guitarist fronting the band if you don't want to the crowd to throw empty beer bottles at you.