Identity works




The basses are booming, the ice cubes clinking noisily; it’s much too loud for small talk so what do you shout back at the person who asks you: “And who are you?” How do you define yourself? Family status? Lifestyle? Profession? And do people actually bother to remember any of these exchanges? Probably not, because interesting people don’t need words to stand out. We discern the facets of a person’s personality by the way they handle themselves and interact, the way they dress and how at ease they are with themselves. Profession, status, family – all factors that fade by comparison.

Brands function in a rather similar way. They make most impact when they can be experienced. Working on the identity of a brand is like fine-tuning its nerve center. Branding has a very direct impact – it penetrates deep down into a company’s business processes, remuneration models, even its employee culture. Branding is more than just design, more than a logo, more than advertising. Branding must differentiate brands through relevant and measureable criteria. It must succeed in impacting people, follow a long-term strategy, while continuously adjusting to the markets. Branding is never a project, it’s an attitude. And working on its identity – as with people – is a never-ending process.

Brands have numerous points of contact which make rectifying mistakes a laborious affair. Regretfully not all consultants are aware of the extent of their responsibility in this context. The temptation of participating in the buzz topic that branding has become is simply too strong. All too often, the advice given to companies by self-styled branding specialists is one-sided and profoundly wrong. Short-term results are achieved based on superficial understanding rather than on well-founded branding expertise. You have no idea how many advertisers, copywriters, PR and/or communications consultants introduce themselves to me at parties as branding specialists. That’s when I suddenly remember that I urgently need to speak to somebody on the other side of the room. And wonder whether I’m being invited to the right parties.

As branding consultants we don’t invent identities. Any company – just like every individual – has its own identity right from the outset. Our task is to reveal that personality using established market and target group research, trend analyses, including dialogues and workshops. We identify those differentiating qualities that every company has, submerge ourselves in all the stories that are related to the company’s development, consolidate those nuggets and transform them into a brand environment that allows others to experience it: online, though employee behavior, imagery, music, fragrances and interiors. All those components that incorporate the same vitality as the brand itself, and that as a whole – create a discernible brand identity.

Few things require a more comprehensive approach than revealing an identity. A challenge that fascinates and enthuses me anew every single day. If this sounds equally fascinating to you too, and even better if you throw parties that don’t attract self-styled branding experts – give me a call. Because however much I love it: branding is only half as important as real life itself.


This article also appears in PUNKTMagazin. The Swiss magazine combines economics, investment and lifestyle and is published every two months. Branders CEO René Allemann writes a column for the publication. You'll find more information on PUNKTMagazin here:

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