When it comes to branding new businesses, we follow a lean approach which we’d like to call our framework as “Dynamic Branding”
In traditional branding, you invest so much upfront in designing the brand identity, core messages, and content which may take months to complete. And in case you made some critically wrong assumptions, then the UNDO button becomes costly for you.
In contrast, following Dynamic Branding Framework (DBF), you can break down the entire project into phases. And after completing each phase, you study the impact of the new changes on the overall brand, course correct, and plan for the next phase.
DBF is a feedback-driven process that avoids facing huge milestones. Instead, DBF embraces small, actionable milestones.
Technological change is accelerating faster than we expected, and accordingly, consumer preferences are evolving at a faster pace than that of the 20th century. The way we used to define the branding for brick-and-mortar brands doesn’t work in today’s world of the internet and the massive rise of internet-first brands.
In the 20th century, you needed to be big enough to work on your branding and broadcast your message. Today successful brands are not necessarily the ones with a big-spending budget.
Every day more vibrant and active brands grow out of the attic rooms and garages. When you look at the major youtube channels, you don’t see the likes of Coca Cola; you see the likes of Gary Vee. You see young kids grow their channel to +1M within a few years.
It seems that we’re stepping in a new territory of consumerism that’s completely foreign to creatives who sit in a lofty room in the big towers in capital cities. The new atmosphere is being shaped up with the kids who spend their lives in the skateboard parks, clubs, and Instagram live channels.
So the one-million-dollar question is how can brands keep up with the ever-increasing change of consumer desires?
To answer this question, let’s break down a typical branding process.
As a growing company, you need to unify your voice and consolidate your message and identity across the board. You’d hire an all-around agency to initiate a rebranding. The first thing they’d do is to finalize the brand identity including logo treatments, fonts, colors, and graphics.
Then they’d work on your messaging strategy and the type of content relevant to your brand. And then they’d apply the brand identity to different channels such as print, TV, and website. So far so good.
However, the world of branding changed radically with the advent of social media. Facebook opened up new territory to the world of branding and that’s the daily content making.
Before the internet, the landscape of daily content making was dominated by traditional media: TV and Radio. With the advent of the internet and especially social media, the playfield has been leveled up so everyone can produce content and expose their ideas to a wider audience.
You don’t have to have a million-dollar budget for your story to be seen first on Instagram Stories. Money doesn’t play the same role as much as the pre-internet era. Your content strategy and the pace of execution do play a crucial role.
In the past, your brand might be exposed to a portion of your audience only a few times a week. Reach and frequency are the key factors here in our assessment. With the advent of social media, the reach and frequency of exposure have been drastically improved. Each post can reach thousands of audiences. You can attract so many eyeballs with the tip of your finger.
So the question: If we have the tools to be in front of our audience as many times a day, then can we still leverage the conventional branding strategies?
The answer is a BIG NO. If the world of the pre-internet was a 2-dimensional world, the post-internet world is multi-dimensional.
Imagine that you started working with a traditional branding agency and as the final work you’re provided with a branding book that includes your color palette, font usages, the type of graphics you can use, and some examples showing how you can create the posts for social media.
This strategy works if you don’t produce at scale, however, if you want to keep up with the competition in today’s world, these assets are not enough for you. To be able to creatively publish posts at least once a day you need a more flexible framework than the traditional branding process. Hence enters the Dynamic Branding Framework.
It aims to create maximum impact for your brand. In today’s world of communication, the message is the medium and the medium is only an excuse to spread out your message to a larger audience. The core innovation in the world of communication is happening on the message level. The quality of the execution is secondary.
Brands like Gary Vee or Yeezy are the ones that perfect this strategy. Their brand image looks underworked, undone, raw, and ongoing which allows them to produce at scale without being bogged down by the execution.
This mindset allows them to experiment and taste different messages faster than other brands. Hence they’re the ones that often manage to stay ahead of the curve and bring ideas to the surface that seem odd in the beginning but become a cultural wildfire in the later stages.
We live in a world that consumers increasingly demand brands to strip themselves off of the whistle and bells and display their true selves. And the last thing you want to do is to hide the image of your brand behind the sophisticated complexion.
If you want to create posts daily, you need a more flexible branding toolbox than a set of few colors, fonts, graphics, and crude instructions on how to create content for social media.
Traditional branding offers you a rigid framework within which you’re only allowed to react and it hinders you from understanding and reacting to new trends. In the traditional world, it’d take a while for a new trend to appear. In today’s world, every day a new trend can emerge.
Dynamic Branding Framework enables your brand to evolve daily. A brand that can produce hundreds of pieces of content per month for different channels.
Pillar 1: Message Message Message
While traditional branding deems core values and mission as the cherry on top of ice cream, and products and services as the primary assets of the brand, the Dynamic Branding Framework emphasizes the core message and mission as the driving force of the brand.
Consumers want to first connect to you on an emotional level, then they may consume your products. A brand’s primary role is to be an educator and communicator of grand ideas. Then it’s to sell products and services that complement those ideas.
Example 1: Yeezy is Kanye West’s commercial brand. There’s a huge demand for their products because of his rebellious personality and I-don’t-take-shit-from-no-one attitude. Kanye West inspires his audience to stand up for their lives and take no for an answer. And he’s been inconsistently consistent with this attitude throughout this career.
Example 2: Black Lives Matter movement forces almost every consumer brand to take a clear stand. To the point that your sales would get affected otherwise. Just recently 80 brands such as Unilever, Verizon, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and Clorox paused their ads on the Facebook ecosystem because of facebook’s unwillingness to take a more decisive action related to BLM.
Pillar 2: Dynamic Branding Framework allows for certain elements of a brand to be fixed such as logo, core values, range of colors, and the overall look and feel of the brand.
Then DBF encourages teams to innovate messages with respect to the fixed elements. DBF doesn’t like DOs and DONTs as much. For certain critical elements of the brand such as logo, it releases clear instructions but when it comes to color usage, it leaves it up to creatives to pick a color combination (within the color range) to create posts.
Example: Looking at Gary Vee’s Instagram posts in the past month, you realize their team has leveraged different styles to convey their message. Again, the message is important. The medium is only an excuse.
Pillar 3: DBF defines a set of tactics and principles
But leave it up to creators how to interpret them. DBF allows the creators to play active roles in defining the brand and extending its reach.
Pillar 4: DBF emphasizes self-awareness
Encourages brands to grow self-awareness of their core values and mission and to articulate what they don’t stand for. More importantly, DBF encourages brands to swim against the current if they have to and hold onto their stance even if no one else agrees with them.
Example: Gary Vee and Kanye West. Both have been controversial throughout their career mostly because they don’t censor their opinion and have the guts to say what they believe and face the consequences.
Nature likes diversity and we’re part of it as well. DBF encourages diverse messages to surface and co-exist at the same time. The only way a hierarchical relationship between the messages to form is when one is superior in merits and it proves itself by its performance.
Within a specific time, there may be a certain dominating style arisen from the core branding strategy through continuous experimentation with creating content for different social media. If that happens, there’s no need to pin it down and make it a written-on-the-stone rule for everyone to follow.
Please do communicate the newly emerging style with other teams, however, it’s them to decide whether the new style fits their purpose.
Regularly, you need to sit with the entire creative team, assess the previous sprints, and analyze the works. Sometimes you have to update, course correct, and refine your core branding identity according to the new insights.
This is the end of part 1. In part 2, we go in detail how you can create your Dynamic Branding Framework by which you can broadcast and amplify your brand messages.
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