Noise. It’s everywhere. And one thing the world does not need is more of it.
Brands compete against noise. Noise in the marketplace. Noise in consumers minds. But how do you cut through that noise? Not with mindless communications. With something that captures the imagination. That is relevant. That helps a customer with their problem. Which helps them get stronger. Which inspires them
In essence, you cut through with an idea. A big idea.
Image credit: Diego PH Source: Unsplash
What's a “Big Brand Idea”?
A “big idea” is the essence of what and why your brand exists. It should make sense of everything your brand stands for, where you are going and why people should care. It should distil your purpose, vision and mission into something powerful.
This “big idea” should be simple. Human. Relevant. Ideally emotional. It should be relevant to your audience. A call to arms. A war cry. It should be true to the drivers and purpose of your organisation. It should be a flag to which like-minded people rally. Consumers and Employees. Partners and stakeholders.
You should be able to explain your brand through it in 7 seconds. Lead through it. Make decisions based on it. Align your people with it.
Articulating your brands “big idea” in a concise way is crucial. It helps people recall it. It helps your people make great decisions. Although expressed simply it might symbolise something quite complex. It is the tip of the spear - encapsulating a mindset that should run through your brand in a substantiated way in the experiences it creates.
We call the articulation of these ideas different things. Slogans. Mottos. Messages. Purpose. Why statements. Brand essence. Ultimately these are all articulations of what the brand seeks to stand for. The big idea might not be these things. It might be tucked away, known only internally but felt by customers externally.
'Big Brand Idea's' need Substance
Once you have your idea it needs to be experienced in order for it to live in the minds of customers.
Your big idea needs to flow through everything your brand does - It’s how it behaves, both internally and externally. By inward consistency, I mean your company culture. By outward consistency, I mean how and where it shows up, what it produces and the experiences it produces.
A big idea is becomes known and felt by your customers through the following high-level things:
Products/services - ultimately what you do or deliver to the customer. Does it solve their problem? Does it meet their expectations? You need to listen and innovate to ensure you keep up with your audience's expectations. Products and services should contribute to the big brand idea becoming a reality for the customer.
Brand behaviour - how your brand behaves. How it treats its staff. How it pays its taxes. How it makes decisions around sustainability and supply chain. Who it supports and partners with. A big brand idea should be amplified and supported by brand behaviour.
Brand experiences - What does the brand do over the top of its products and services? What events does it put on? How is customer experience? What does the process of buying make customers feel? How is the brand’s retail or e-commerce environment designed? Packaging. Unboxing. Etc. We could go on. A big brand idea should be “felt” by the customer in the experiences the brand orchestrates.
Brand Communications - this is how the brand looks and speaks. What messages does it portray? How it explains its difference and hammers home its big idea. The symbols it uses. How it goes to market. A big brand idea may exhibit itself as a slogan, motto or message which is communicated explicitly.
Note: these 4 vectors have been adapted and been inspired by Wally Ollin's The Brand Handbook which is an excellent and recommended read!
Obviously, the importance of these four areas might flex depending on the brand's context or category but I find they are always there needing to be managed and reviewed. Some brands might choose one of these to be their “lead” (e.g. hotels might be more experience led whereas B2B brands might be more product-led). I would suggest however that even if that’s the case the other three areas should not be excluded. All come together to create meaning in the customer's mind. All are key components of brand building.
The key questions should be: is our big idea flowing through these areas? How can we improve them form the customers perspective?
So - does your brand have a big idea that your team aligns behind? An idea customers experience, feel and are attracted to you by? If not there’s no time like the present to start work on defining, discovering and rallying around your 'big idea'!