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How To Build A 21st Century Brand

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy

Forty years ago a brand was an identifier. Branding was what we did to the outside of a product or service after it was conceived and created. Brands became tales woven to increase visibility and memorability using design, clever copy, print and TV advertising to make sure the product was known by the majority of prospective customers. This is how traditional brands like Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Visa and Hertz became top of mind and won big in the days of traditional advertising.
The following list is what branding was traditionally designed to achieve:

Objectives Of Traditional Branding

  • Awareness
  • Attention
  • Authority
  • Majority
  • Average
  • Profit
  • Dominance
  • Outside in
  • Shareholder value
  • Single bottom line

But this isn’t how you build a beloved brand now. Today a brand is a promise that people align with, believe and invest in and branding begins from the inside out. 21st century brands are purpose-driven. They have a reason to exist beyond making a profit, and they no longer aim to appeal to the average or everyone. Here’s what 21st century branding sets out to do:

Objectives Of Branding in the 21st Century

  • Affinity
  • Alliance
  • Trust
  • Individuals & Tribes
  • Edges
  • Purpose
  • Relevance
  • Inside out
  • Customer-centric
  • Triple bottom line

If the nature and function of brands have changed, then the process for developing brands and brand stories must evolve too. We’ll be on our way when we begin by prioritising the objectives on the second list. A brand story is no longer like the top coat of gloss paint applied at the last moment to make the surface shinier and more immediately attractive. It’s the undercoat that often nobody sees, but which allows the brand to endure.

Image by NASA HQ.