Since I started blogging on branding, I have emphasized consistency and execution rather than any other stage, such as implementation.It may be because I believe implementation to be the most difficult stage in the branding process, or may be because it is here where failure hovers, this gray area between creativity and vanity.
Nevertheless, if implementation is the most difficult stage, the most important is the search for that uniqueness that will become the DNA of each brand.
Let’s think for a moment, in a world inhabited by billions of human beings with the same molecular structure, how is it possible that no two individuals are identical? Even identical twins, conceived and brought up together, show noticeable differences.
Brands, like people, are unique. There are no two identical bars of soap on a store shelf.
This is what Branding Thesis # 3 is about. Each brand has something that makes it unique and desirable. The core of the process lies in finding it.
A branding process should always start by finding that unique element. In over 20 years in this business, working side by side with many different industries, including Financial Services, Hotels, Flowers, Digital Cameras, Blenders, Dental Silk, Two Way Radios and even an Undertaker’s Memorial Park, we have come to the conclusion that each one of them has something proprietary and unique to communicate. In every situation, our job resembled that of a shrink, getting to the innermost soul of each industry, market and professional to find, led by our client, that valuable differentiator, and I am proud to admit that we always did find it.
As in every branding mumbojumbo thesis, the best way to explain it is by showing an example. During my tenure as the agency of choice for an important hotel chain in Colombia, I was requested to create a DNA for their flagship hotel. Initially, the discussion revolved around its outstanding facilities, the comfort enjoyed in its rooms (needless to say that, at $200 a night, it should be an obligation, not a quality), excellence in customer service, the professionalism of the Executive Chef, and it went on and on.
Two nights spent as a guest of the hotel gave us the clue we needed. We learnt that most of their accounts were companies in search of privacy and seclusion; we also learnt that the manager had devoted his career to strengthen his relationship with top clients through sharing their passion for the fine arts. This led us to discover that the hotel had a culture of its own, which surpassed international hospitality and was the result of a synergy between the intellectual affinity of management and clients, coupled with a very unique infrastructure. The medieval architecture of the hotel, surrounded by parks and small squares, stood proud like an English castle. Just to give you an idea, Bogota is your typical cosmopolitan capital where space is a true privilege.
And, this is how the hotel went from communicating comfort and service to positioning itself as a cultural destination that included Arts & Crafts fairs tied to a Sunday brunch; cultural exchange programs with bi-national Chambers of Commerce and evening concerts on Thursdays exclusively for corporate clients.
Fifteen years after finding the soul of Hotel La Fontana, its small central square continues to be the destination of choice for hundreds of “Bogotaneans”, at least once a week.
As a branding consultant, I don’t find it difficult to reach the soul of each brand as I thoroughly enjoy the search, probably because I also enjoy listening, which is extremely important during this process.
This is how I introduce you all to my Branding Thesis # 3: Every brand and every product has something that intrinsically belongs to them and to nobody else.
Every brand and every product has to find that unique element, ensure that it is competitive and relevant and build a long-term path upon it, with consistency and creativity.
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