FutureLearn: The Secret Power of Brands (2014) Hold tight or let go?

Category : Blog

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To build a successful brand, is it better to control every aspect of the brand, or to encourage people to adopt it and adapt it?

To me a brand is a mindset and set of behaviours that people buy into wether it’s a positive one like the BBC providing interesting and informative news to people or a negative one like McDonalds providing ‘unhealthy’ food which in turn helps cause obesity.

Enforcing a brand can be both good and bad, it’s good when you are clear about what you stand for and are strict on the design principles that come in to conveying yourself to the public but it’s bad when you try to control everything. An example is when Mountain Dew were sponsoring a live video games event and the participants were forced to drink only Mountain Dew with the logo on the can facing the camera while the majority of the set design reflected Mountain Dew’s colour scheme. What they should have done was show that these gamers like Mountain Dew and if you want to be like them then you might like it too.

By forcing a brand down someones throat you risk the possibility of alienating your potential adopters. If companies were to show not only the features but the benefits of their product/service people would be more likely to be loyal because they have something they can relate to. On the other end of the spectrum if you control every minor detail you may be able to reach more people and get them to buy your product/service.

At face value Red Bull is simply an energy drink but if you look at what the company does as a whole they promote a very active lifestyle of seizing each and every moment and breaking through barriers which people idealise and therefore buy their drink as they believe it will bring them closer to that lifestyle. If Red Bull where to start serving food tomorrow would they serve 3 course meals? Probably not as it doesn’t match their brand identity.

People will have differant opinions on the amount you should control your brand and I agree that in some situations you should be stringent but by obsessing about your brand too much it can just as easily hurt you than help you and I think this is becoming a lot clearer now with the rise of social media and brands needing to be transparent to the public.

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