Your Brand & Your Branding: What Changes and What Doesn’t

I’ve read recently (and occasionally hear it said) that brands need to be willing to change. Those brands that aren’t flexible, or resist change, will be swept away by newer, possibly more adaptable brands. This is a very attractive opinion for branding agencies in the Los Angeles area and all over.

To be clear, I don’t disagree with those opinions at all. But as with many theoretical approaches, there is a very real danger of taking it too far, of losing track of your base. Absolutely—there are certain things that may change about your brand—but there are some things that never change. How can we tell the difference?

In a turn of phrase, over time lots of things change about your brand. That part that doesn’t

change? That’s your brand.

Take for example a company whose brand is closely linked with their product. Think Hershey’s or Coca Cola—imagine that the taste of Coca Cola or a Hershey bar changed as often as their advertisements changed. It would be chaos, and they’d lose their customer base.

With this in mind,  it’s misleading to say—and I disagree strongly with saying—that companies who can’t adapt their brand quickly enough will be left in the dust. For all brands, the part that doesn’t change is the brand.

However, You can—and should—change a variety of things related to your branding.

Each year Doritos and Coca Cola do a totally new marketing push in conjunction with the Super Bowl. Does that mean each year they scrap everything and start a new brand? Of course not. The only thing a new marketing campaign does is seek out a new way to express the brand. If you wanted to zoom out and look at every Super Bowl spot that Doritos has ever done, you’d be able to see that, despite a wide variety of colors, moods, tag lines—even logos—the deeper message of the brand hasn’t changed much.

So your brand doesn’t change—your branding can and should change. But why—and when—does your branding change?

Your branding—your visuals, advertisements, website, copy, communication techniques and strategies—need to stay relevant, and to the extent that your audience changes, so must your branding change to reach them.

It’s a small but important distinction—one that branding agencies in Los Angeles and Orange County sometimes miss: Seek always to have branding that is vibrant, flexible, and receptive—but at the same time seek to have a brand that is grounded, meaningful, and unchanging.

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