Continuous reinvention drives brand relevance.

Written by Chris Grabowski.

All brands go through a life-cycle; you’re hot, you’re not, you’re who… as consumer trends come and go. Some brands have reinvented themselves majestically over the years: Nintendo, Lego…whilst others have managed to maintain a consistent level of cool and desirability, think: Nike, Ray-Ban, PlayStation.

 

With Kantar unveiling the UK’s most chosen brands, we’ve taken a look at the factors that keep a brand relevant and desirable. How the likes of Oreo, Coca-Cola, BMW and Xbox continue to feature on the most popular / trusted / desired brands lists. How they continue to be the brands people talk about, follow, share and ultimately buy in the millions.

 

We’ve looked at the overlapping traits and behaviours of these brands and of those that have re-emerged on the scene, what is that they do, how do they do it and what can other brands learn from them.

 

Understanding of relevant trends – brands that have a hunger to constantly evolve are those that stay relevant, stay rooted in popular culture and stay in favour of their consumers. Pret a Manger has experienced incredible growth, so much so they could have afforded to take the foot off the gas. But instead they are constantly reinventing and innovating. Behaving more like a challenger brand than a market leader, they listen to consumers, decipher macro trends from fads and own it. The launch of Veggie Pret is a plum example of a brand being right on trend. Their introduction of a self-imposed ‘Latte-Levy’ is another example of them knowing exactly what the consumer wants to see from a modern, progressive brand and taps into a zeitgeist. What is the conversation I want to be a part of, where is it happening and how can my brand earn its way into it?

 

Be Authentic – yeah, it was always going to be in here somewhere. It’s an old adage, but it is absolutely true. Brands that successfully reinvent themselves do so around a core brand principle, but tied into a contemporary trend. Nike has been saying ‘Just do it’ since 1988, but the way they say it has evolved over time. They are staying true to the brand proposition, but constantly reinventing how they tell that story in an authentic way that resonate with current audiences. The recent Nothing Beats a Londoner campaign does exactly this, playing off the same get out there and do it premise, but with character filled content, parodying contemporary stereotypes.

 

Channelled through the right channel – demonstrated by Oreo across Twitter and Instagram, Skittles on YouTube, or Beats’ work with social influencers, the right media channel can help to give the brand a freshness through topical association that isn’t available through traditional media channels.

 

The Economist and Snapchat might have sounded like an odd couple, but the to-the-point and visual functionality of the channel perfectly mirrors what the title has always done well, striking visual imagery with smart, snappy copy and narration. The pairing has given the news title a new lease of life and the attention of a younger audience.

 

Don’t just jump in – in the search for relevance it is tempting to see current trends as opportunities, but as the likes the Audi (A5 Super Bowl spot) and Pepsi (Kendall Jenner) have discovered, jumping on the wrong trend can do way more harm than good. Brands need to remember who they are and what they stand for, if it doesn’t feel like something you should be talking about, it probably isn’t.

 

But on the flip side…

 

Time waits for no brand – as with most things in PR & comms, those who strike first are the ones that are remembered, and relevance is built around engaging with the right audience, around the right moments. Having the infrastructure in place to be able to respond quickly has never been so important, think Paddy Power at their best or BrewDog. Just make sure it is something that you should be involving the brand in.

 

Know your audience – as brands get older, so do audiences, and unlike us, brands can keep on going. The Stella Artois, Levi’s and Cadbury brands and logos are hundreds of years old – so that is a lot of new demographics to have worked through. They have survived by constantly adapting to emerging audiences, listening to what they have to say, what they care about, what they want. Making adjustments along the way that show they are listening, that they have a place in contemporary culture. But, as ever, doing it in a way that is true to what is at the core of their offering.