We have brands and ads all around us but regardless of how many there are, only a few have brand power, even fewer enjoy the iconic brand status. A handful of brands can be recognized globally and have become integrated into the pop culture. All of these brands can be recognized through their logos and brand colors. So how was it that these brands achieved their iconic status and is it possible for emerging brands to obtain the same illustrious position?
All marketers would love to be in the same standing as these brands but it’s highly unlikely that new brands will ever come close to it. To get to that level of recognition, these brands have had to consistently deliver to their market over many decades which is how they have garnered so much loyalty. Even though it will take newer brands some time to become iconic, there are pointers that they can take from the big shots in the market.
Can be spotted with just the logo
A swoosh anywhere will instantly remind you of Nike, the same way McDonald’s gold arches can be recognized from a mile away. The visual cues that have been associated with these brands is what makes them so identifiable so easily. These simplistic but impactful visual cues is what gives many of these iconic brands an advantage over others. There are other sporting goods’ brands who are also successful but none of their logos will have the same recognition that Nike’s swoosh has.
Brands that are considered iconic have a top-of-mind awareness which is why having a simple and easily identifiable logo is such an advantage. Brands that have top-of-awareness are more likely to be considered for purchase as opposed to those that aren’t as familiar.
It should be noted that a customer’s buying behavior is affected by visual cues but there are other factors that are also involved such as the functional benefits and the emotions induced by the brand.
Iconic brands become part of a culture which is why their branding requires them to stay up-to-date with popular culture and reflect the happenings of society.
In the book, How Brands Become Icons, Professor Douglas Holt of Oxford University narrows down 3 principles that make brands iconic.
- Iconic brands react to what is going on in the society
- Iconic brands have personality
- Personality becomes more important than functional benefits
PepsiCo attempted to do this recently with its advert representing the Black Lives Matter movement but failed to do so miserably when people decided that the ad was insensitive and tone-deaf.
Iconic brands are known to respond to current events to maintain relevancy and to exceed beyond their functional benefits. These type of marketing efforts is what lets people make positive associations with the brand
Iconic brands have personality traits just like humans. These traits are reflected in the types of products they sell, the type of celebrities they sign as endorsers, the events they sponsor and the brand’s symbols. Marlborough, for the longest time, was represented by a macho man from the Western frontier. Old Spice, on the other hand, opted for a different approach and became known for its unconventional, humorous ads.
With time, the brands no longer just represent the functional benefits, they embody the characteristics that have become associated with time. Volvo is known primarily for its safety and Rolex reflects luxury and success.
New brands will have to create marketing campaigns that depict certain personality traits that distinguish them from others and make them more identifiable.