22/06/2017

Why we need brave brands

By Niall McRiner

Who's winning with brave brand behaviour and why is it so important?

‘Authentic', ‘human', 'genuine dialogue’, ‘bold', we hear these words a lot in the brand design and marketing landscape and understandably so. Today many corporate brands have more power than countries whilst simultaneously, the world of digital communications has transformed the balance of power between brands and consumers. As a result, there is no room for brands that can’t deliver on their promises or don’t perform. We want brands to demonstrate brave brand behaviour.

What is a 'brave brand’? 

Brave brands have a vision and values that they live by. Ikea believes in the democratisation of design, Airbnb believes that every community has a place that people can belong. Having this genuine purpose (aside from just making money) means a business genuinely wants to realise it. Brave brands understand and empathise with the people they are targeting. As a result of this empathy, they speak the truth and tackle questions from their consumers head on. The result of having a clear brand identity means that brave brands can be confident about their communications. They can admit mistakes and show how they are learning and making up for them. Here we identify four great examples of brave brand behaviour under four key disciplines of brand communication. 

Understand the importance of your voice. 

There is no doubt that verbal communication and tone of voice continues to become as important as visual identity in brand communications. It’s not what you say but how you say it. Often, it is less likely for consumer audiences to complain about language. Yet despite this, a flawed tone of voice can have a hugely negative impact. There are many great examples of brand tone of voice but Byron hamburgers’ simple, no nonsense words reflect an honesty and genuine approach that creates the a true sense of identity and belief in the product. We believe in the passion and the claim of 'properly sourced British beef'. The 'best ingredients possible' feels a genuine brand attribute. 

Have a human, fluid and flexible brand identity. 

Brave brands are not afraid to be human. And when brands are human they have the ability to adjust and flex their personality to fit the situation and importantly the people they are interacting with (as opposed to communicating to). Today, people expect brands to respond appropriately and personally. And as a result brand design needs to be capable of far more complex interactions than before. Identity design has a hugely important role to play in commenting a brands humanity, fluidity and flexibility. for giffgaff, the ‘no contracts’ mobile network run by its members, the brand identity do not create a singular solution, but instead has a range of personalities that can be deployed in appropriate brand situations. Similarly, the ‘digital noise’ design is based around the fluid and constantly moving pixel to represent constant evolution. Giffgaff’s brave brand credentials also comes to light through the ability of consumers to market the brand themselves, being provided with brand assets they can use themselves. 

Maximise the potentials of product design. 

We need to push boundaries, producing design that creates a better, more empathetic experience. And that can happen in infinite ways. By taking risks both functionally and aesthetically, designers can elevate our experiences and future expectations of products. The Oi Bike Bell has been created to bring more aesthetic beauty and ring tone to the traditional bike bell. The creation of a new kind of bike bell with lifestyle credentials has created a new, original style and use of materials. 

Share meaningful apologies. 

When brands admit mishaps with specificity and remorse, explaining how they will sort them out, audiences can actually feel more connected. A brave brand doesn’t hold back in being open and honest about any mistakes. Taylor Swift went from a very public boycott of Apple music (due to Apple not paying artists during consumer free trials of their streaming service) to quickly then starring in a Apple commercial. Apple’s apology quickly admitted wrong doing and explained how it would make it right. 

Brave brands do not shy away from clearly stating their future ambitions. They tell audiences their mission and they stick to it. They use their brand design and communications to solve the problems that hinder that mission. As David Ogilvy has famously said “Clients get the work the deserve”. Brave brands understand when to take risks and when it is worth being prepared to fail.

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