The reality today is that most brands fall significantly short of addressing long-term business issues. This is suggestive of the fact that branding is an old, and consequently outdated idea. We’ve followed the basic brand theory for too long now.
A brand should never feel ‘done’ or completed, especially in the minds of today’s employees and consumers. Instead, a brand should be dynamic: continuously developing and reshaping itself, thereby justifying its existence and role in the world and in peoples’ lives.
People now see brands as extensions of themselves — so, naturally, they want to see brands act as a positive force for good in the world. This is where brand loyalty exists today, at both a corporate level and a consumer one.
However, branding has lost its edge in a design world which churns out repetitive dullness. This is because we all view and approach ‘brand’ through the same lens. Most, if not all, rebranding projects exist as a consequence of business failure which has been exacerbated over a period of time.
Let us move away from the notion of rebranding to enable us to create more meaningful organisations of the future. How do we begin? We look to ways we can re-energise organisations from the inside out. We ask those questions that need to be asked, together. Let us challenge what is in front of us, so we can design businesses with genuine authenticity, irrepressible trustworthiness and caring empathy.
An example of an exceptional positive force for good is the successful brand ‘Bank Job’bringing together a local community to examine how money and debt are made in our current economic system and look for alternatives that may work more in the public’s favour. Hoe Street Central Bank has been the centre of an act of citizen money creation. Local people of all ages and backgrounds have been working to print HSCB bank notes in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50, 100 and 1000 on a public print production line. Engaging people in a collective act of printing money and abolishing local debt in a former high street bank is a provocative start to a timely conversation about economic justice and education.
Today, a brand needs to stand up to, and against, broader social problems to enable it to survive.
To view a brand purely as a mode and style of communication which is sent out in to the world is to minimise its power — the power of positive purpose.
We must see branding as an opportunity to open up brave new conversations so desperately needed in a society monopolised by hard line executives — and not just as lucrative exercises in creating corporate graffiti or fulfilling untruthful marketing objectives. Moreover, consumers have grown weary of the level of noise created by constant messaging and bland rebranding: they now want decisive action, and for ‘noise’ to be attuned.
So, when thinking of branding — let’s not re-brand. Instead, let us reimagine how businesses, manufacturers and producers can design goodness together for the benefit of our shared social well-being, for the communities in which we operate and for the world in which we live.