Consumers are seeking authentic brands. Brands with soul. Soul needs to be baked into your brand identity.
Gone are the days when marketing was about having the biggest, shoutiest brand, being ‘revolutionary’ or being the first to launch stuff into space.
To today’s hype-weary consumer, flash brand strategies, such as celebrity endorsements and high-budget campaigns are seen as the swan song of desperate ‘me too’ brands trying to eek out market share. They’re often a clear sign that the products behind them are lacking in quality and, most importantly, soul.
A brand identity with soul thrives on popularity, admiration, trust and is confided in by their consumers. Brands rack up clout scores on how many of the public and stakeholders literally ‘like’ them.
It’s not news that social media has changed the lines of communication. The trick is to extend the brand personality in an intelligent and human way. After all, friends know when to stop talking shop. A friend would know what to post in your Facebook newsfeed to transport you into a more light-hearted and engaged frame of mind.
Ben and Jerry’s understood this during Occupy Wall Street when they set up live coverage on their website with the title ‘We Stand by the 99%’. They were listening to their audience and they weren’t afraid of openly empathising. Just like a thoughtful human. Just like a friend. They were ‘with’ us, not ‘instructing’ us. A vital shift in the relationship between sellers and buyers.
The modern brand identity
It’s all very well quoting text book case studies so here’s one closer to home for brand soul (or a shameless plug for one I launched myself).
In partnership with the BBC and property developer TCN we brought the Ugli Creative Campus in White City, West London to life- a thriving community for 650 creative folk and a brand based on wholesome honesty. Not only were we 12 months ahead of lease capacity, we have a still-growing waiting list.
What was the secret? Fundamentally, we just created a very open, honest and human brand. A brand with soul. A likeable brand identity that was based on what it did and how it acted, looking to support, help and incubate creative talent. Our philosophy, brand strategy and indeed our URL, is ‘lovely inside’, for it’s about what all brands should be: People. Community. Engagement. Sharing. Honesty. Fun. Creativity.