A brand is a brand...
… is a brand.

Schindler Parent > Blog > Brand building

Brand building – a declaration of love for branding.

This article is intended as a declaration of love. But not to any particular person. It’s about the gifts people give each other on Valentine’s Day. This article explores the question of what makes certain things worth giving away in the first place. What is the value? And how does this value occur? The notion is: It’s the brand character and the targeted brand building behind it.

It’s Valentine’s Day. The whole world is awash with romance – and bags full of presents. For our beloved, of course. Many go out to eat. And not just anywhere, naturally, but where the food’s delicious. To the Borchardt. To the Paris Bar. They dine at Chez Maurice. Or they go to the Bareiss – provided they have the necessary change. And if the funds are lacking and it’s only enough for a curried sausage, then – if the love is as great as the hunger – then it’s the local “Currywurst” stand all the way, baby. It has to be something special. Why? That’s because we love that something special. And a brand is always something special.

What’s the secret? It should be something of a certain value that you send to your loved one. That’s why the vast majority of these gifts are usually branded. And these items have to come wrapped in delicate floral wrapping paper and accompanied by postcard-sized love greetings because – yes, why? That’s because, of course, they’re fantastic products that have become – probably over a long period of time – a brand. Or simply: have been developed into a brand. So, in other words: In most cases, this is based on targeted brand building, successful brand marketing or marketing branding, or something to do with brand strategy, so that something like a successful marketing brand or branded entity could emerge – hereby putting all the marketing jargon to bed in one go. Someone has thought specifically about where to surprise whom and with what. Once, several times, and even again and again. That is brand building. Creating opportunities for that special experience with something that lasts.

Brand building is a designation process.

And what exactly is it that turns a product into a brand, and perhaps not just any brand, but the very exact brand, the unique brand that dominates its entire market and becomes the epitome of its segment? Why do many of us suddenly think of apples with a bite missing, paper handkerchiefs, blue cream jars with white lettering, or even those iconic glass bottles containing such effervescent delight, whose plastic successors will never go on to achieve the effect that their glass predecessors have – becoming the collector’s items and design classics that they are today? It’s the designation process, the loading with meaning, that turns sugary water into Coca Cola and some cellulose into a practical handkerchief. This is brand building – creating meaning, making connections. Conditioning for the extraordinary, no less.

Brands forge connections.

Nothing else happens on Valentine’s Day. A ring presented on that day ceases to be a normal ring. But rings are never “normal” anyway. They’re always pre-loaded with meaning. When exchanged between men and women, rings say: “I love you, we’ll be together for life.” At least until the divorce comes. Rings passed from fathers to sons or – potentially more often – from mothers to daughters say as much as: “I’ve already received this from my father/mother, who in turn received it from their parents. It’s an heirloom from the early days of some great great great...whatever. Be sure to put it in your drawer where you can forget about it until you pass it on to your child and heir with such weighty words.” As strange as that sounds: That is branding. It gives a family a certain heritage and it tells a loved one: You belong to me. We belong together. You’re part of my family. And you’ll always belong to it.

And if you turn that wheel just that little bit more: You belong to my/our community. We all wear the same rings – i.e. smartphones, use the same paper handkerchiefs (the single-use ones, of course, not the soft ones and certainly not the no-name ones that just imitate everything). That is because it’s precisely this togetherness that gives us strength, that gives us character. This togetherness says to us: You are a chosen one. You distinguish yourself from the no-names, the cheap no-names, the imitators. This is because we rely on brands. That makes us brands ourselves. Given that we use the original, we ourselves become an original, because brand is always original. At least a little bit.

Brand building requires brand management.

Who is “we”? Who is “us”? These are the target groups. All the customers of a company who go crazy for its brands and products because they’re taken in by their character. Because they’ve succumbed to marketing. Because they trust it, the brand. Conversely, what does this mean for brand building? For building a brand? What does it take? Patience, tact, plenty of sensitivity for who you want to reach and win over – the one you want to “seduce”. That sounds so much like advertising now. Sounds like “getting ripped off”. Like “creating needs that no one would otherwise have, if the desire for them had not been created in the first place.” There may be such a thing, but more often, the success of a brand is determined by whether a slowly growing target group talks about it on Facebook or Twitter, whether this group visits the website or searches for information about it on Google. So, in other words: If this is the case, it’s no longer just a matter of seducing a target group, but of offering solutions to problems or even needs that have actually existed. Even if the target groups are often not even aware of it. Let’s think of smartphones. Let’s take the iPhone. Has Steve Jobs now awakened in us the need for apps, in other words, the desire for something that we basically don’t need? Was the iPhone, the computer in your pocket, just clever marketing? Or hasn’t it fundamentally simplified our lives? Did it seduce customers to turn away from Motorola and Nokia, or did it actually offer solutions to problems we just didn’t know we had yet?

Opportunity makes brands.

Ultimately, it’s about the right brand management of a product, a company, a brand. Ideally, the brand shouldn’t be for everyone, but for a specific, conspiratorial community (which may well be very, very large). A community, by the way, that doesn’t necessarily have to know each other – like the fans of a football club who sometimes meet every week and call to each other by name – and who also sometimes recognise each other by the scarf in the club colours, even though they come from opposite ends of the country. The decisive factor is a sense for the right opportunity. Valentine’s Day comes just once a year for lovers, but the website is always online for customers, and the social media channels are always open for everyone to leave a digital comment. A digital declaration of love or digital word-of-mouth: “I bought it and I am very satisfied.” Essentially, they’re all just channels. A company’s website, Valentine’s Day. So is Mother’s Day. All good marketing ideas to give mothers flowers and perfume once a year, or to give regional breweries a targeted sales boost with a special delivery on Father’s Day.

The important thing here is that strong brands always give a customer the feeling – no matter how large the community may ultimately be – that it is something of a two-way relationship between him, the customer, and you, the strong brand: “Me and my MacBook”, “My XYZ and me”. How does the brand achieve this? It speaks a personal language. On the website, on the Internet. In every place where there is traffic. A strong brand always adopts a theme. Like cookies, it offers bites that are tailored to the interest of the target group. To nibble on and chew through. With these topics, the brand becomes a talking point, it gets people talking about it and thus increases demand in the long-term. This, too, was cleverly launched by marketing. Of course, it’s important to proceed step by step. Based on an exact target group analysis, it places the messages that are received – not only on the website, but at all points of contact. More: Marketing relies on the development of an exact positioning when building a brand. It’s with this that the brand stakes out its territory, promoting itself as high-priced and noble in design, as tasteful, with a touch of chic, and all from its best side. Or even in a technical light, with a cool style, from a rational side, with a metallic twinkle in the eye and the sovereignty of crystal-clear calculation.

Brand building can take many forms.

The brand – that was the initial concept – is like a gift that a lover gives to a loved one for Valentine’s Day. The person giving has chosen the brand with care for exactly this situation, for exactly this loved one. He’s paid close attention to the ambience and created the right situation for giving this gift. The brand is the message. Its value symbolises the value that the loved one holds for the giver. Not simply because it’s valuable, but also because it was chosen with love. It’s a restaurant we’ve chosen for the occasion, or it’s the ingredients we’ve bought for a meal we’re preparing that day, or the candles that provide the ambience and make the evening what we might call romantic. The person giving is the sender, the recipient the receiver. The crucial thing here is appropriateness. That the recipient and addressee fit together well, that the message is right and the touchpoint is bang on. Successful brand building takes all of this into account. Be it on the website, or be it on Valentine’s Day. Always and everywhere – even at Christmas and Easter. But then it wouldn’t have been possible to squeeze a declaration of love around it.

One more thing. A ring made of hair (the romantic lock) is also a lovely Valentine’s gift and only costs a quick flick of the scissors and perhaps a little effort to destroy what was the perfect hairstyle. A pretty flower, cut from the neighbour’s front garden, could also be it (even though flowers rarely bloom at this time despite climate change). It doesn’t have to be an expensive brand. In the end, it’s only a gesture, but the relationship may depend on it. And, if it turns out to be too cheap, maybe next time, next year, you’ll be sure to pick out something off the top shelf – on some website. Perhaps it’ll again be a brand that has been pushed with the help of targeted brand building.


More information is available from:

Christoph Siwek

Creative consultant / Group Head Text

Contact us.