Advertising & Marketing

What makes a brand iconic?

What makes a brand iconic? Is there a magic formula that is true across countries and across categories – and if so, how can the magic be bottled? Brand and marketing consultancy Added Value’s Associate Director, Mélanie Bonnet, and Project Executive, Caroline Sarkis, look at the defining characteristics of iconic brands and highlight five tips to help your brand reach iconicity.

·Develop a unique and recognisable design language

To create appeal and desirability, a brand must develop an offer that answers a particular consumer need. However, to attract loyal customers, the brand must go beyond this by developing specific features that will be immediately recognisable by any consumer. The Burberry pattern, the Coca Cola bottle, the white Apple earphones are elements that remind any consumer of the brand they stand for, even without name or indication. People just know it’s these brands and no other ones. Therefore, these little details constitute one of the founding pillars of the iconicity of their brand.

·Connect with culture

The most important lever of iconicity is how well your brand is connected with culture. Think Campbell Soup, or Lego; at a certain point in time, these brands have been perceived as vessels for cultural manifestations and have become part of the popular culture.

·Make the most of your history and heritage

Luxury brands often use their heritage in order to legitimise the value and quality of their products. Louis Vuitton took this a step further when it looked to its history to help rebuild the brand. It decided to return to the original core product, the travel case, and launched new ads starring Angelina Jolie and U2 around the ‘journey’ theme. Later the brand released city guides that were a great success in helping crystallise the image of Louis Vuitton as a brand for travellers.

·Move from a functional benefit to a fundamental human motivation

Starbucks is not about quality coffee but rather about togetherness, Evian is no longer about balanced mineral composition but more about youth and vitality. These brands have understood that they had to shift the focus from how great they were to the greatness inside us, the customer. The best example of a brand pushing for human motivation is Nike, which promises nothing less than finding our own greatness.

·Don’t be afraid to foster communities

A powerful action from a brand would be to transform an individual consumerist action into a sharing experience. Many iconic brands spend huge amounts to organise events that bring people together and create unforgettable moments that will be forever linked to the brand. Nike’s annual ‘Nike Women Run’ around the world is one example. Targeting newly independent women looking for challenge, the brand allows them to reunite on a single path, with music and a jovial atmosphere, and pushes them to achieve their goals. By doing so, the brand create real preference versus its competitors.

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