For many centuries, branding was a term used to describe the demarcation of property—most commonly in reference to the searing of cattle.
This explains why so many corporations approach branding from an identification perspective, versus storytelling one. Create a logo for a business, product or place, and they’ll surely come. But in an increasingly dynamic world, organizations that fail to listen and respond, verbally and visually, risk facing irrelevance. One needs look no further than the shrinking performances of HP, Canon and even McDonald’s to punctuate this point.
Now one could argue that the actual offerings and innovations at these organizations are in decline. We wouldn’t disagree. However, we’d also argue that they communicate at consumers, rather than with them, and have failed to adapt to the new world approach to brand building.
From corporate to consumer to cause-driven organizations, those businesses that are thriving recognize that branding is not simply about projecting an image. Instead, it’s about telling stories and creating experiences that connect, engage, inspire and activate.
However, to connect and stay connected with consumers, organizations need to recognize the importance of adaptability and flexibility. Like the people that they serve, brands must keep changing, evolving and growing. And that philosophy extends beyond products to include storytelling.
Oscar, the new health insurer, is a great example of a brand that understands the power of dynamic storytelling. They’re so much more than any one product—and certainly so much more than just a logo. They have a whole storytelling toolkit, which includes a voice, color, typography and a wholly distinctive illustration style and set of relatable characters. Together these elements create a persona, a relationship, with their consumers. But they don’t stop with their dynamic expressions. They bring this to life in every single touch point—from their welcome kit to their explanation of benefits (EOB) to their telehealth offerings. At every point of interaction they invite you to participate and even co-create. They create conversations rather than produce communications.
From Google to Oscar to Zappos, and every great brand in between, this responsive, dynamic approach to brand building is here to stay.
Organizations that focus on their image projection versus an invitation to participation would be wise to learn from these organizations if they want to thrive in the 21st century and beyond.