Once upon a time, when you decided to engage in a branding process, you would go through a series of self-defining exercises to figure out what your brand should say, and then move into creative development and execution. The final product of this would usually involve a new logo, a website, and a set of guidelines that hypothetically included everything you would ever need to know about how you should use your brand and where your logo can go.
Those days are now behind us. As consumers are changing the way the buying process works, they are also changing the way brands need to interact with them. For brands to effectively communicate in the ever-changing marketplace, they need to be agile in adapting to new ways to meet people where they are.
What does that mean for us? It means that we need to invest in brand like we invest in our website or our marketing strategy: pairing large, sweeping changes with a system of consistent iteration. It doesn’t mean that the need for rebranding is dead, but it does mean that we shouldn’t have to rebrand or relaunch so frequently. Consider this your weekly/monthly/quarterly blueprint for brand optimization.
To help make it more clear, here are three examples of brands that have evolved over the years to keep up with their audience and with the market.
Dropbox: Calling Creativity
Dropbox started out as a cloud storage website, but has expanded its product offerings to be a much more collaborative online space with features and products going beyond what it was originally built to do.
They recently announced a new flexible brand system meant to adapt to the many requirements of its evolving UI. This rebrand caused a lot of controversy within the design community, with passionate arguments both for and against.
This rebrand is not just an expansion of their existing identity to cover more applications, it also serves as a repositioning to appeal to a target audience of creative companies. By prioritizing design in this effort, Dropbox has essentially waved a flag and said, “Hey creatives! We care about the things you care about too! Come use our services!”
This message is effective because it communicates directly to the people Dropbox wants using its products, telling them that Dropbox has the user’s interests at heart. Implementing a modern brand goes beyond a campaign slogan to bring the message into all the core tenets of the Dropbox brand. While the new brand might be a step too far for some, it’s a good example of how branding can represent your core values to your target audience.
Amazon: On Demand for Everyone
The online retail giant is often used as an example of innovation when it comes to product development and it’s easy to see why. Just let their own page touting the innovations to come out of their company tell you. From the now-familiar (and patented) one-click ordering system to the new and slightly questionable Prime Air, which delivers packages by drone in 30 minutes or less, Amazon is an unquestionable leader in product innovation.
But the diversity of products is more than a business strategy, it’s also a brand strategy. Amazon started out as a bookseller which had a specific target audience (albeit a large one). As they have evolved over the years to sell just about everything, their target audience has become everyone, and part of their brand is being accessible to everyone, all the time. Amazon has to push to develop newer, more convenient services (like the recently announced Amazon Key) to maintain their brand image.
The transparency and marketing around these product developments is part of a larger effort to be the go-to service for anything anyone needs. This communicates that the Amazon brand is convenient, accessible, and forward-thinking.
Newmar: Marketing Tradition Through Innovation
Newmar, the leading manufacturer of luxury motorhomes, has long been known as a brand of heritage. Handcrafting their products for over 50 years, the Newmar brand represents integrity, reliability, and honesty. You don’t see words like “innovation” and “revolutionary” on this list, though. But that doesn’t mean they’re not evolving their brand for the modern buyer.
Like other manufacturers, Newmar worked primarily within the traditional dealer selling model. But as consumers altered the way they research and evaluate products, Newmar realized they needed to change with their buyers.
So instead of ignoring their customers, they leaned into the opportunity by creating an online space where customers could experience the brand’s values. Even though the Newmar brand represents hard work and tradition, they convey their message through an innovative online experience, their community, and a marketing automation system that nurtures leads throughout the entire buyer’s journey.
For a company that literally crafts their luxury motorcoaches by hand, you might not expect them to have a complex digital ecosystem. But because they’re willing to expand their brand, they’re able to convey their legendary, heritage-based message through new innovative channels.
Your Brand Is an Experience
The branding process is no longer a static activity with a set beginning and end. Your brand is an ever-changing and evolving thing—how do you identify its core tenets to stay true to who you are, yet still remain flexible enough to evolve with the modern needs of brand application?
Brands who have successfully evolved over time are able to identify the needs of their core audience and build their brand experiences around those needs. Whether it is a flexible identity system for the creative crowd or an online forum that allows travelers to share their stories, successful modern brands are focused on creating great brand experiences for their customers.
Derek Smith // Brand
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