Living, Breathing Brands

A brand is a living, breathing thing.

A brand is a living, breathing thing. If it isn’t evolving, it’s dying. Consider the landscape in which brands existed 10 years ago. It was drastically different. Trends change, new products launch, social norms shift, brand offerings expand or refine…With the ever-changing landscape, consumers are demanding brands provide more up front before pledging their loyalty.

  • Listen before speaking
  • Build trust
  • Connect
  • Be transparent
  • Be authentic
  • Be inclusive

Don’t forget the ante is seamless and immediate delivery on all of the above. How are brands of yesterday going to keep up—let alone compete—with brands of today?

They should start by tossing aside that archaic style guide and begin thinking about brands like people.

Glitzy logos and flashy fonts are only part of the package. These days, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Brand guides determine the heart and soul of how a brand is brought to life, how it communicates, and its emotional intelligence. These elements operate like the nervous system, sending signals when it’s necessary to adapt or evolve. Without the right building blocks, brands lose loyalty and become obsolete.

Traditional brand guides were built with narrow views—a compilation of pretty colors and pithy words—with little (if any) thought given to the importance of building a true brand-consumer relationship. Today, designers, writers and developers collaborate to determine human traits, mannerisms and sensory cues behind a brand.

Nowadays, for a brand to succeed, commitment to integration is key. If we’re treating a brand like a person, we might consider a first date scenario to see if this brand checks the boxes:

    • “What did they look like?”
    • “How did the conversation go?”
  • UX/UI
    • “How did they make you feel?”

If a brand is only focused on one or two of these critical pieces, they’ve already fallen short. A brand may look and sound great, but deliver a terrible experience. Similarly, if a brand looks great and delivers a great experience, but uses language that doesn’t resonate, it leaves more to be desired. But when these elements all work together, it allows a brand to move with the needs of the market, pay homage to emerging trends, and most importantly, deliver trust and authenticity. Once a brand has mastered the art of evolution, they must pave the way to becoming relationship experts. Amid our current environment, the demand for connection grows stronger daily. Consumers are viewing brands in a whole new light.

According to Adobe, 91% of consumers prefer brands that recognize them and provide relevancy in offerings. This means real-time alignment and recognition of when to pivot based on behavioral targeting is critical. Some might consider this more of the courting stage in a relationship. The same way consumers may exhaustively research a brand before they buy, that brand should also do its due diligence on ways to attract and retain loyalty.

Like people, brands must have an innate sense of survival—constantly connecting and evolving their relationships. In the end, both parties have basic needs that must be met. When we examine a brand’s functionality relative to human interactions, we illuminate underlying patterns.

The ability to identify these unique patterns within the foundation of a brand guide, (a.k.a. biological makeup), and acting on those patterns is what will ultimately drive success.