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Brand ethos – Giving life to Brand Strategy

All brands desire to be “the one and the only” in the market. Quite the common goal, right? How would you then be different from the rest? Well, ever came across Strategic Branding?

Nike and Adidas are brands that have co-existed in the same field for so many years now. But quite interestingly, their identities have managed to stay different from each other. While Nike conveys the image of an ‘Ultimate Leader’, Adidas is more ‘Friendly & Approachable’. All their communication, from taglines to social media posts, follow their respective qualities. That’s because they have carved a successful brand ethos for themselves. 

The brand ethos is basically the character of a brand – its morals, its purpose, its quality, all that which sets the brand apart from the rest. 

A brand cannot be defined with just the mission, vision and values. These are just elements that set up the brand ethos. Commitment to these elements makes all the difference. 

Where do we start?

Brand ethos forms the crux of any strategy. Think of it this way. A person of a distinct character will always be etched in your mind, right? Similarly, brands can thrive only with a solid personality in place. 

McDonald’s and KFC are other good references. Both are fast-food chains that serve similar dishes. But their design language and tone of voice vary by a huge margin. McD is where you can have a ‘fun, happy meal’ and that caters widely to the kids’ segment. KFC, on the other hand, is about experiencing ‘new, explosive flavours’ and their content urges you in a rush to try something ‘out of the box’.

McDonald's & KFC branding

From a marketing perspective, brand ethos means a defining trait between the company and the consumer. But from a brand point of view, ‘ethos’ is ingrained into every form of communication. It’s basically the heart of the brand that helps in uniform positioning across various mediums. 

To take off on this mission, brands must write down points on what they have, what they want to offer, and what the targets’ needs are. Their intersection will offer you enough attributes to fuel your brand rocket. However, this would be possible only through thorough consumer behaviour research and brand audits. In short, a detailed strategic approach. 

Creating your niche

Every decision that a brand takes must follow its ethos holistically. No action or narrative can be for the namesake. Regularising a brand’s personality is a constant work in progress. 

How does this ethos help with brand growth? A strategy holding a strong brand ethos will help in building a unified purpose and a unique brand positioning. Take Coca Cola for example. From its naming to its expression, it immediately reminds you of a ‘Bottle of Happiness’. It believes in its ethos so much that it once helped normalise the image of Santa Claus of today. That’s right! Read all about it here.

Coca Cola Santa Claus
Haddon Sunbloom’s earliest depiction of Santa Claus for Coca Cola

Once there is consistency in the brand image, it becomes easy to create relevant awareness among target groups, thereby increasing sales as well. Airbnb did just that. They worked on the idea of ‘Belonging’, be it their website language or their client testimonials. Each premise advocated the thought of a ‘home away from home’ which became their niche to sell their service successfully. 

airbnb branding

Brian Chesky, the Airbnb co-founder, recently created a sensation by renting out a room from one of his homes to talk about the ease of hosting. He said to CBS news- “…wanted to show people if I, the founder of Airbnb could do it, that you could do it as well.” See the pattern there? There is a proper strategy involved that reiterates the brand ethos in every possible form. 

The art of brand storytelling

You know what’s the most exciting and challenging part of developing a brand ethos? It’s the narrative! 

Storytelling is integral to any brand development. It is a great stimulator to put across the brand ethos in a captivating way. Everybody wants to hear a story. Branding in itself tries to explore different human emotions in creative ways. Simple and interesting stories with these emotions bring credibility and relatability to the end customers. 

Harley Davidson has quite an intriguing narrative in place. Their tales echo freedom, rebellion, and adventure with the idea of an exclusive community. Being legendary is by choice and this brand directs you exactly where to make that choice. Their promotions in films like Ghost Rider and Terminator 2 just make it clearer. Now, that’s how you sell your brand. Transparency and consistency of your ethos in the right platforms will just do the trick. 

Brands must ensure the tone is constantly worked upon and not left stagnant. This will help the customers to travel along your perspective. Storytelling and customer journey together create one good relationship that eventually builds loyalty. No doubt that a clear-cut strategy is the one that leads you right into achieving this goal.  

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