Time flies when you’re having fun and so it came time to come back home. As we wrapped up our two week adventure through Germany, Sweden and Spain, I began reflecting on the eight company visits and on what makes a brand successful. A brand can be defined as a promise, a relationship between the company and the consumer. But what separates those truly powerful from the rest?
This question got me thinking about my past life in architecture. People have asked me what I think separates a good architect from an average architect. To me, coming up with the concept (the promise) is not the hard part—it’s expressing that idea coherently throughout the entire built environment. A great architect can express the concept in everything from the master plan to the doorknob and I think the same idea applies to branding. A great brand will live and breathe its core values in everything they do—from the interior design of their office to the dress code of their employees and everything in between.
Nickelodeon embodies children from their core values (Heart, Fart, Smart) to their colourful office space with giant sponge bob characters displayed everywhere. Acne’s CEO, Mattias, is the personification of the brand—effortless cool. And as we waited outside Acne to hop on the bus, I couldn’t help but notice that each and every employee that left the building fully represented the brand as well. Zara’s employees were decked in Zara and the office itself looked like a Zara store—they even had has an entire section in their office dedicated to mock stores, where they would carefully study how each item will be displayed before sending photographs to stores all over the world. At Carolina Herrera it was the presence of the Herrera women, depicted in images throughout the office and the retail stores, that strengthened their image as an eponymous brand.
The study tour helped open my eye to a whole new level of branding, not just the consistency of a company’s message but also the personal branding of each and every person that represents that brand. What a difference it makes when the message is consistent!