An Oscar Winner’s Lesson for Branding

This past Sunday the Academy Award for Animated Short Film was awarded to the creative film Logorama that poked fun at the pervasive, ever-present nature of our favorite brand image – the corporate logo.  If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here (WARNING: adult language and content):

According to H5, the French creative studio who created the film:

Logorama presents us with an over-marketed world built only from logos… Logotypes are used to describe an alarming universe (similar to the one that we are living in) with all the graphic signs that accompany us every day in our lives.”

As fun as the fast-paced Logorama is to watch, it does channel the malaise and distrust many customers have developed regarding corporate identity and traditional branding/advertising practices.  Logos are still a necessary and effective tool for consistently providing a global brand identity, but they were born from an outdated approach to brand management that doesn’t work for today’s information-connected customer.

Customers need to shape the brand

The last decade has seen a growing distrust of corporate efforts perceived as unauthentic (thank you Gen X and Gen Y).  More folks understand the concepts behind branding and have a lot to say about how it’s been handled by the brands that intersect with their lives.  They want to be involved with the brands that matter to them and interact with other likeminded people about these brands.  They want experiences.

The traditional approach of company-to-customer brand management where the key objective was to “own” and “manage” brand channels conflicts with this new reality.  The approach should be to influence, not control.  Organizations must engage their customer network to manage a brand collaboratively versus “telling” customers why they should be loyal.  Customer distrust is boiling beneath the surface; don’t let it sink your brand.

It’s more than the Logo

Most efforts to evolve brands have focused on the identity elements (logo, imagery, advertising), probably because they’re the easiest to execute.  However, these don’t represent the experiences that drive customer loyalty.  Developing a strong sense of your customers’ perceptions, needs, and expectations was once a difficult and costly exercise, requiring lengthy market research and focus groups.  Today, social media provides a real-time and cost-effective way to partner with customers quickly to gain valuable insights.   No doubt it can be a bit overwhelming at first, but testing, failing, learning and designing a strategy that works is no longer a “nice to have”.

The Brand is alive

Brands are a living organism and need to evolve and change over time.  Your brand represents the positive experience delivered when your company meets a customer’s need.  Those needs change, your organization’s approach to meeting customer needs change, so the connection point between the two also needs to change.  Engaging with customers to manage this evolution will ensure you don’t make any missteps.

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