20 July 2021
Transform Magazine: Iconicity as the route to impact
Every day we’re bombarded with thousands of sales messages and visual stimuli to tickle our mental brain-buds to ultimately make us buy something.
Life is consumed with the digital screen and our index finger constantly flicking up and down, no doubt twitching while we sleep. Our brain needs to work harder than ever before to decode the deluge of commercial art placed in front of us. Consequently, we cut out the noise that doesn’t resonate and home in on what we can relate to. We call it the brand’s ‘fight to stay relevant’.
Research study after research study has told us that people don’t really care about our precious consumer good brands. We’re promiscuous by nature; buying and switching between different brands within our repertoire, seeing all brands as functionally very similar. And in a post-Covid economic pinch of the pennies, value will be key so switching will be even more prevalent. Iconicity can help cut through the clutter and give you a stronger rhyme and reason for getting dropped into the shopping basket.
Icons are often the familiar and calm we look for amidst a sea of madness; be that in an advert or on a piece of packaging. The old adage of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) has never been as strong as it is today. The world’s leading brands have listened to the seminal work of Professor Byron Sharp, leveraging their distinctive brand assets in our minds. Think red soda, or a slogan about just doing it, a meerkat, an annoying opera singer or even Gary Lineker. Each of these distinctive assets instantly takes your mind to a brand. They are powerful memory structures for brands to own and leverage time and time again.
But just how can you help your brand steer the right course for success and win its fight for relevance?
Stop and reflect on just what the brand stands for in people’s minds today (what images, symbols, colours, etc. come to mind) and where you want to take them on the journey tomorrow. Don’t assume you know, as you may well end up trying to leverage an element that has little to no iconicity.
What iconicity does the brand own in the mind that we can leverage even further? In our work with Nomad Foods we broughtCaptain BirdsEye back to the dinner table. He’d been cast out at sea for too long and needed to come back to shore to take on the frozen fish fight – at a time when the category was losing its battle for relevance with chilled food. This powerful character icon is something that parents fondly recall from their childhood and acts as a shortcut to those real food values and simpler times when families ate together and weren’t distracted by digital devices at the dinner table.
The advertising agency cast a slightly younger and more handsome Captain, which caused an unexpected surge in media noise about a TV ad with ‘the hot new Captain BirdsEye’. The resurrection of the Captain resulted in a win for Nomad Foods with sales of the battered fish range increasing 51% in the first 6 months on shelf, and the breaded range increasing by 27%, at a time when it had been in freefall.
But there is a watch out. One of the biggest challenges we see is when new marketers come aboard and want to make their mark, often trying to start afresh and forgetting about the powerful iconic assets that they have in their arsenal. New Moonpig CMO, Kristof Fahy, called his decision to resurrect its pink pig a no brainer! The colour pink and iconic jingle are now once again front and centre.
McDonald’s has done a great job at this with the use of its iconic golden arches in its recent ‘We Deliver’ advertising, cutting into an element of the iconic arch and using it as a beacon from their fast-food restaurant straight into your home. Apple just rebooted its iMac and went back to the original, embracing the power of colour against a PC world of beige. And talking of colour, Coca-Cola has just switched its Zero brand to red, realising the power of its ‘universally-recognised’ red.
All of these brands have looked closely at what made them famous in the first place, what visual space they own in our minds and then leveraged that memory to ensure we keep coming back for more. Hell, I want a McDonalds delivery, a new iMac and the new Zero!
3. Be coherent rather than consistent
Finally, don’t be afraid to break the rules. Too often we get caught up in a world that focuses on brand consistency, with strict and rigid brand guidelines that prohibit and restrict the powerful use of our assets. Can you imagine the shock and horror on the face of the poor brand guardian for McDonald’s seeing his beloved golden arches being cut and cropped to their dismay?
At Brandon, we talk more about brand coherency as opposed to consistency. If a brand expression is coherent and you get it, then that’s enough. Iconicity is there to be leveraged and stay relevant to our time. Just as we as humans constantly evolve, the use of our icons needs to also stay relevant to their time in history.
So, to win your fight for relevance and drive true transformational commercial change, know what assets you have in your arsenal, amplify your iconicity to demand attention and leverage those powerful memory structures, and don’t be afraid to break the rules. It sounds simple, it is simple, but simple is often really hard!
As featured in Transform Magazine.
If you’d like to know more about how to win your brand’s fight for relevance, then please get in touch.
Interview with a Client Service Director – Simon Ellis
Who knew Simon is a musicals fan? But when he’s not belting out a classic, he loves nothing more than the feeling of absolutely nailing a client brief.
On pack messaging: Brand Purpose versus Distinctive Assets
Louise Kennedy on the strategies that brands implement when bringing together brand purpose and distinctive assets.
The supplements brands gym-bound Brits will be turning to
Richard Taylor speaks to The Grocer about how brands need to cut through in the sports nutrition and supplements world.
Ever wondered what it's like working at Brandon?
We speak to two of our latest recruits to find out...
Design as a powerful asset in the fight for relevance
Strategist Tessa Hill on some of the key relevance challenges we’re asked to solve through the power of design.
FAB News: What do you stand for?
FAB News: Louise Kennedy on how winning the fight for relevance starts with positioning.
Interview with a strategist – Tessa Hill
Tessa loves being involved in a project from a very early stage.
All I want for Christmas... is a good limited edition strategy
Strategist Tessa Hill comments on the learnings from five of our favourite Christmas limited editions.
What role does innovation play in driving brand relevance?
Strategy Director Louise Kennedy with some top tips on how to use innovation to drive brand relevance.
Immunity in 2020
Strategist Tessa Hill uncovers the design codes shaping the immunity category in 2020.
Interview with a designer - Abi Taylor
Hear from our Co-Founder on her love of design and how Brandon came to be.
Reawakening a love for brand books
Senior Designer Jay Bates on why brand guidelines shouldn't be left at the bottom of a drawer.
Five Minutes with Louise Kennedy
Louise Kennedy talks to Transform about how brands can stay relevant and how packaging can improve brand performance.
FAB News: ‘Relevance - The Holy Grail of Marketing'
FAB News: Strategy Director Louise Kennedy on what relevance actually means.
Recession-ready tip #2 – Rethink innovation
How rethinking innovation can be a tool to get your brand ready for a recession.
Interview with a designer - Joe Bembridge
Read what inspires Brandon’s first full-time designer.
Recession-ready tip #1 – hero your distinctive brand assets
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy considers hero-ing your distinctive assets to prepare for a recession.
Can casual dining brands survive on supermarket shelves?
Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about how hospitality brands can make an impact through supermarket retail.
Don’t underestimate the influence of packaging in the home
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy discusses actionable ways for brands to build an emotional connection with consumers at home.
Interview with a Designer - Jay Bates
Brandon’s self-confessed brand architecture nerd, Jay, on what inspires him every day.
Marketing Week's ‘All change: The complex route ahead for automotive branding’
As car manufacturers face pressure to move to cleaner energy and shift their strategy, Richard Taylor, discusses what that means for brand.
Hero design for the new hero channel
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy challenges what the hero design is and will become.
Hitting their peak: How brands plan to retain new customers post-lockdown
Managing Partner Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about shopping on autopilot and making new habits in the crisis.
Interview with a Designer - Grace Buckley
Grace can often be found in the supermarket rearranging the shelves to show off her work in its best light!
Reflections from the Darkside
Strategist Louise Kennedy’s view on agency life from the perspective of a ‘newbie’.
Will Harrods' bet on a new beauty brand pay off?
Managing Partner Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about Harrods' new beauty brand.
Desert Island Ads
We asked our Creative Director for his top 10 ads that shaped and inspired his thinking over the decades
D&AD Top 5 tips to move beyond mediocrity to design greatness
Inspiration from Rosie Arnold at the D&AD Talks 2019
The Joys of Brand Planning
Our Top 5 Brand Planning Tips - identifying new, exciting opportunities for growth.
Our 5 Key FMCG Brand Innovation Principles
Our 5 Key FMCG Brand Innovation Principles: What lessons can we learn from Coca-Cola's Life U-Turn?
The Brand Packaging Health-Check
The Brand Packaging Health-Check: 5 Killer Tips to see if a refresh is due or long overdue
The Art of FMCG Brand Architecture
Three principles we apply to ensure a successful brand architecture
Refreshing Established Food and Drink Brands
Here we discuss six routes for a brand to acquire new relevant meaning.
The Grocer - Pasta & Sauces report
The Grocer features Managing Partner Richard's thoughts on the pasta and sauces category.
In a bid for simplification and efficiency, the giants are emulating the discounters.
The Logo. On its last legs? Or fit as a fiddle?
Of late there has been a school of thought which argues that the static logo is terminally ill.