We all know of the brain teaser, ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg’ .The subject came up during a recent Twuttle meeting of the local Twitterati and at the time there seemed to be no connection with this and how we do business. Not that we engage in idle banter during these gatherings of course! However, having been prompted to put some thought into the subject, certain aspects came to life!
The egg, the core idea or brand thought, is a single word which brings together all facets of your brand and a strong identity means that consumers will think of your company first when they think of your product category. Beans = Heinz, Vacuum Cleaner = Hoover, Biro = Bic. Everything is built around this, starting with the logo, running seamlessly throughout all the marketing material and the website. A few years ago, when the fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger prepared to launch their collection in the UK, billboards were simply covered with the brand name and supported with magazine adverts, saying nothing more than the news that Hilfiger was coming! Without any preview of the clothing range, potential stockists were pleading to be on the approved list of outlets and the success of the brand was established without a single piece of the collection being seen prior to the UK release.
We tend to view the brand as something which develops after the product innovation, but which really comes first? The Brand should represent the soul of the company and be there at the birth, followed by the marketing strategy, corporate objective and brand message. It’s the foundation on which every essential feature grows and should be in the forefront of your mind when you originate the idea for a product or service. Customers may come and go and products evolve and develop, but a strong brand message will survive change. It’s your value promise, both visible and audible, connecting the name, logo and strapline (slogan) to the product, building a relationship with the marketplace.
Should you decide to launch a new product under the established brand name in the future, the identity should be strong enough to support a credible brand extension. Bear in mind that this needs to be compatible with the brand’s foundation. You wouldn’t for example, expect McDonalds to open a chain of greengrocers. Whilst adding a new product can strengthen and benefit the parent brand if it’s relevant to the core brand message, deviating too far from the original product can damage perception, even more so if it proves to be a bad egg!
Bringing us back to the chicken and egg condundrum, the other question posed in the discussion was who first made the decision that a boiled egg and soldiers would be an improvement on the raw ingredient? One of our early entrepreneurs do you think?