Structured Branding

If you grew up in Kenya in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, you obviously came across a few household brands that changed the entry dynamics for other brands. For example Cutex, this has been used even to date by women when shopping for nail polish. Some still use Omo to buy Persil. Kiwi and Big G are others brands that are still household names that hold the cards in there favour.

This gives us a (very rewarding and ingratiating) sense that the brands we build have intrinsic value in the world — and on look good on company balance sheets.

This was when markets and consumers were more static and more loyal.

Markets are now constantly in some kind of flux, consumers are a perennial flight risk, products and services can be re-positioned in an instant or rendered obsolete overnight (Ask Aromat). In this setting, all brand owners have an obligation to manage their brands differently. To enable them to evolve, adapt and insulate themselves from disruptive forces. The conclusion we’ve reached at Brandsmith is that brands, as they’re managed today, can be a handbrake on progress, or worse, be a liability for their owners. Any brand that doesn’t show agility in the face of shifting external dynamics is a brand that can lose relevance in a moment.

We think Brand managers should :-

Strive for coherency not consistency
Consistency has long been desirable for brand owners because it drives recognition, creates a sense of reliability and builds consumer
trust. But, in an agile age where brands have to be shape-shifters across channels and contexts, consistency is not the holy grail it once was. Coherency, which places a greater value on relevance, is the new high bar. Today, if you’re not relevant, you’re dead. So, we’d suggest you make that your mantra and curtail the focus on consistency.

Engage everyone, build a brand as a community

Consider who plays a role in your brand’s community and how you can empower them. Tusker and Guinness figured this out a while back. They sell to the nation builders, great achievers and not to a beer drinker.

Let go and embrace risk
Branding has become an inflexible practice in a world where flexibility is essential. It’s time to take the shackles off. Free your brand to be the dynamic, living, breathing asset it needs to be.

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