A brand needs to be simple. But getting to the simple idea is the hardest part. Finding something obvious and making it evocative, compelling and relevant can be tricky. On the other hand, if you successfully complete that task, the rest of the branding process takes on a life of its own.
The first key step is to create an effective Brand Idea. Once you have that, all things flow from it (positioning tag line / straps, tone, etc). To that end, there are 5 basic things you need to avoid when developing a brand idea. These ideas can be found in more detail in the book Brand Simple: How The Best Brands Keep It Simple and Succeed by Allen Adamson.
- There are no magic bullets: Just because Phillip Morris spent $300MM to market its premier smokeless cigarettes, the product flopped. Why? The branding could not make up for a bad idea. Smokeless cigarettes appealed to non-smokers versus smokers.
- Don't get caught up in group think mentality: David Olgivy once said, "search all your towns and cities, you will find no statues of committees." Don't allow your bold and brilliant idea get pummeled into mediocrity. Stick up for your idea.
- Make sure your idea is durable: Any brand can be a trend. Every SUV can seat 7 now, and there are ton of MP3 players. Your brand idea must be able to stand the test of time and stay ahead of the brand and technology curve. Example: "Apple. Think Different."
- Don't be afraid to make a clear choice: You can't be all things to all people. you need to focus our audience to ensure that our brand idea is relevant to the right group. Think about Dyson. Not everyone wants or can afford a $500 "suctionless vacuum". But their focus allowed them to create a powerful high end brand on a key functionality. "Others clog. Ours Doesn't." Who does your company REALLY consider it's prime customers to be, and what is the single key value you are going to bring them?
- Make sure your business strategy and your brand idea are aligned: Look at the original satellite phone from Iridium in 1998-99. Their brand idea was great ("Communicate. Anytime. Anywhere.), but the product fell short in the eyes of the customer. It was less than elegant, it was very expensive ($3000) and did not work inside buildings. TiVo, on the other hand, was the opposite. Their brand initially failed to evoke the life changing emotion it provided . "TV on your terms" as a concept was underwhelming compared to what you really experienced.
Are you keeping it simple?