The future of Successful Brands

You can’t rewrite your past, but you can grab a clean sheet of paper and write your future.

— Anon

My firm, Iconika, has been designed to help business leaders be the architect of the business they want—rather than of the business they have got. We believe the future is there to be created.

Many businesses grow to a certain point and then struggle to maintain momentum, or they fail to remain relevant to the customers who helped them get to this point, and they do not understand why.

Building a business and brand is a very complex process. They generally grow in an organic way, despite any implementation of strategies and processes. Most businesses do not incorporate design into their thinking. Yet the very purpose of design is to make the complex simple. With thousands of decisions being made every day across every organization, it is no wonder that at some point brands lose their way and become disconnected from, or irrelevant to, their customers. It takes a determined visionary to guide a business into its future and a clear purpose to gather and mobilize a team.

People do not generally talk about “designing a business” yet that is exactly what you do when you align the business goals with the customer experience. Taking a conscious decision to make this alignment is the first step in designing your business.

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This brand-led or purpose-driven brand provides the agility needed to harness the innovations that come naturally from people working together to achieve common goals. Every problem is an opportunity to overcome, which in doing so gets you closer to your shared goal.

For the customer, these innovative companies are seen to further empower or delight their lives. Tailor-made products and stronger relationships are formed. Brand loyalty has a huge impact on the value of and generosity shown toward a business. When you think of companies like Apple and Google, you can see this to be true. It is no coincidence that these companies achieve brand loyalty. 

This “brand alignment” overcomes two of the most difficult obstacles to business success: 

1) Scale—the ability to grow your business while maintaining quality. 

2) Agility—the ability to stay in step with a rapidly changing world.

If businesses fail to remain flexible enough to follow and support their customers’ lives, they will start to become irrelevant.

Alignment does not require rigid or fixed approaches to brand building, as the word would suggest. Being able to flex and change to meet the needs of their customers is essential. Using the brand identity to communicate in a tactical way also builds strategic value. Helping people and potential customers to get more from your brand makes sense. Brands that are designed to scale more simply and be agiler should be classified as “dynamic.”

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Dynamic identities meet the ever-changing needs of their customers—with different platforms, places and experiences. Marketers talk about “channels” and “multichannel platforms.” But who would think about what channel they are in when they see a brand? People are dynamic, and brands need to be dynamic too. Meeting customer needs in continuously new ways allow them to remain relevant.

Designers who can think about brands in a dynamic way are creating extra value for their clients, and in turn, they are helping those businesses to create better experiences for more people. In this way, you can see that designers can have a big impact on the world. They are a force for improvement.

Dynamic brand identities have the ability to communicate various messages and meanings in a way that fits a tactical purpose while reaffirming at every interaction the power of the brand, making it more meaningful, recognizable and relevant.

The most successful brands in the world all share similar qualities. Brand analysts Millward Brown identify these as meaningfulness, uniqueness and salience. In other words, is the brand “relatable” in customers’ eyes? Is its “difference” easy to recount and recommend? Is it easy to bring to mind?

Answering these questions and then putting those answers into your work will help people find and share better products and ultimately build better brands.

To be meaningful, you have to understand who is going to benefit from the brand. You need to be relatable and have a symbol that will be accepted and cherished by this tribe. When people use your logo, wear it on their body or stick it on their cars or laptops, it becomes a symbol that identifies who they are and what they value.

Customers have the power to decide who wins. They are media creators and influencers, and that is why Amazon and TripAdvisor review writers.

So create dynamic brands that feel designed for them. As Marty Neumeier says, “Today you have to outposition, outmanoeuvre, and outdesign the competition.”


Taken from my Preface to the new book ‘Responsive Design’ by Sandu Publishing 2018