What makes the difference between a mediocre and an unforgettable brand? We know it’s not always having the superior product, as Pepsi generally outperforms Coca-Cola in blind taste tests, yet Coca-Cola is by far the more memorable brand. It’s also not availability, otherwise mainstream vodkas like Smirnoff and Absolut wouldn’t be intimidated by independent craft distilleries. What drives consumers to favor one brand over the other is the psychological connection they forge with their audience. Without fail, the biggest brands in the world have engaged consumers by answering their needs not just functionally, but emotionally too.


“Marketing campaigns that consistently inspire faith”

Coca-Cola is arguably the biggest brand in the world today, valued at an astonishing $56.4 billion. You can find a Coca-Cola drink in almost every store on the planet, including those in developing and emerging markets. Yet, consumers’ love for Coca-Cola is irrational because, as already stated, it’s not considered as enjoyable a drink as its main competitor Pepsi.

coca cola brand drink
The world’s irrational love for Coca-Cola is thanks to marketing; throughout the decades, Coca-Cola has invested heavily in bold, impactful, global marketing campaigns, and to great success. What started with ‘I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke’ in 1971 grew into a catalog of highly emotional, and incredibly well thought out, strategic communications bringing the Coca-Cola brand to the forefront of the soft drinks market.

Coke’s continuous message of unity and optimism — including slogan’s such as ‘Have a Coke and a Smile,’ ‘Life Tastes Good’ and ‘Open Happiness’ — appeals to the heart of consumers, and provides a beacon of hope for people to come together in through times of unrest and uncertainty. As such, Coca-Cola has positioned itself as a shining light across the globe.


“How esthetics conquered the tech world”

If you’ve ever opened the box of a new piece of Apple kit, you’ll know that few experiences deliver such tactile delight through such subtle detailing; the way the box quietly pops open, reassuring on safety, and the considered layout of individual components communicating the care with which the product has been produced. Not every brand would put so much consideration into the packaging of their product, but Apple did. The next logical assumption for consumers is that if Apple’s packaging is so impeccably put together, its tech must be out of this world. Furthermore, Apple’s product lives up to this promise.

apple inc tech brand
When mp3 players exploded in the market, the category quickly became saturated with choice. Why is it then, that the Apple iPod is now synonymous with the portable music player innovation, and other models have been forgotten? Once again, the way that Apple built in tactile feedback — such as the scroll click — and celebrated consumers’ individuality through a range of color options meant its product hugely outperformed others.

Famously, the Apple design team is dedicated to an iterative design process; each device is trialed and tested for weeks, enabling the experts to discover, and remedy, technical and hardware glitches long before the model is released to the market. This use of Design Thinking shows that none of Apple’s category-defining design is a fluke.

These days, Apple leads design trends within tech and beyond; when Apple ditched its skeuomorphic esthetic style, many others fell in line.


“How a brand can excel by asking consumers not to buy their products”

A brand should have a crystal clear definition of its values, and ensure that all company leaders are responsible for upholding, and driving forward, this way of thinking. When executed well, communication of brand ethics and ethos can bring about monumental success.

patagonia apparel brand
Take outdoors clothes brand Patagonia – founded by Yvon Chouinard and his team of mountaineering friends in the 70s, Patagonia has been devoted to protecting natural resources since day one. The brand’s product design, production, marketing, distribution and human resources philosophies are underpinned by environmental motivations and a dedication to ‘cause no unnecessary harm’. At times, this means taking an impassioned stand against consumerism, of both material goods and nature. When Patagonia released an anti-Black Friday advertising campaign with copy reading ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket,’ it was rebelling against frantic purchasing of clothing — and the pressure this puts on natural resources — insisting that a good item should last, rather than be replaced or discarded. As such, Patagonia also offers free lifelong repairs on their products, encouraging a lasting relationship with their consumers.

The result: a movement of loyal return customers, who see their personal values and ethics reflected in the company’s vision. Patagonia’s sales continue to soar, and their activist pursuits gain greater traction and a more responsive, and engaged, audience.

It’s not easy to land such controversial campaigns; it requires a truly in-depth understanding of your target audience, as well as your brand direction. It’s wise to get a read on the potential outcome of such a message. Consumer collaboration and co-creation platforms, like Chaordix, enable brands to bring their audience into the on-going development of new ideas and marketing positioning.

The brands of the future

There will always be trends in brands and marketing; it’s the duty of established brands to respond and adapt to consumers’ evolving interests and needs, in order to stay relevant. Today, the market is in a state of flux, with independent and challenger brands enjoying huge success by offering an alternative to younger consumers, who so desire a shift from the ordinary and expected ways of working set in place by previous generations. Many new brands in the marketplace are positioned towards Generation Y and Z, as the future money spenders.

However, will it be the brands who have experience of changing times — such as Coca-Cola — or who speak the universal language of design — like Apple — or who are fighting the future of the planet — as we see in Patagonia — who survive? Or, will the brands of the future come forward in entirely unexpected ways, superseding the attempts of companies who’ve dominated consumer needs in recent years? Only time will tell.

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