Coca-Cola. Levi’s. LEGO. When brands like these become icons that are deeply ingrained into our culture, you can’t help but wonder, why them? Dive into the ‘why’ with us as we dissect how brands build legacies.
1. What do successful brands have in common?
Brands that have withstood the test of time have one thing in common: the ability to eloquently evolve by innovating with their product suite. Top brands quickly recognize that the consumer landscape is changing, and continues to change. Thanks to constant connectivity and an overwhelming number of options, people no longer rely on brands alone to make purchase decisions. Legacy brands understand that the only way to sustain momentum is by launching products and services that build the brand. A brand can only be as relevant as its last launch. And that means evolve, or die.
2. Do legacy brands owe their success to tactics like mascots and company mission statements?
Mascots help create brand personalities and build awareness. Company missions can give consumers a shared sense of purpose. But these efforts are all in vain if the product-level experience doesn’t live up to the brand. Legacy brands can credit their success to a willingness to consistently launch quality products and partnerships that reinforce their values. When LEGO recognized the impending saturation of the toy market in 1999, they zagged to differentiate their brand and partnered with Star Wars to create their first licensed theme set, a move that reassured consumers of LEGO’s commitment to innovative fun. LEGO continues to build its empire with video games and major motion pictures, while less adventurous competitors like Hot Wheels have faded into the horizon.
3. What force has had the greatest impact on the evolution of brands?
Technology has been, by far, the most profound catalyst for the evolution of brands. The Information Age has paved an entirely new path for how consumers and brands interact. Creating an environment of constant connectivity, the Internet provides social platforms that facilitate consumer-brand conversations that weren’t possible just 10 years ago. Brands like Zappos utilize technology to reinforce their brand promise of superior service at the product-experience level. The Information Age has also rapidly increased consumers’ access to knowledge and their ability to compare at a product level. The ease of e-commerce and the capacity to connect with influencers means up-and-coming brands like Warby Parker can harness technology to become an overnight sensation and threaten competing, multibillion-dollar category leaders.
4. Why do consumers get so attached to certain brands?
Consumers’ attachment to brands can be broken into two phases:
A. Brand Promise
Legacy brands build their foundation with a brand promise that resonates with consumers. This brand promise is reflected in every touch point, from television spots to a customer service representative’s tone of voice. People buy into a brand’s sense of purpose or style because they believe it represents them, in an actual or aspirational sense.
B. Product Experience
Consumer attachment is only solidified at the product level, though. If the product experiences fail to reinforce brand values in new and exciting ways, consumers can and will turn elsewhere. If Levi’s failed to evolve their classic styles or chose not to launch cutting-edge technology-enabled apparel, would consumers still view them as the iconic, cool denim brand? Probably not.
5. What are the most important considerations for brands to think about as they continue to evolve?
What’s next? What product or service could replace us? These are the questions brands should be asking every day. It’s more important than ever for brands to look around corners and recognize that the era of disruptive innovation means a threat can come from anywhere. When LEGO realized they were losing market share to video games, they launched a new suite of products to evolve their brand. When Coca-Cola saw beverage competitors making strides, they launched purpose-driven upcycling accessoriesthat reinforced the brand at a product level. Being a legacy brand just isn’t enough anymore.
Brands are born and buried every day on one premise: prove it with the product or lose it.