A brand is like a culture; a symbol by which people create, learn and develop their ideas and beliefs about life. It is a set of signs and rules that signal how we might differ from another, but it is meaningless in itself. In order for a brand to connect with people today and in the future, brands, like a culture, need to be given a meaning.
Of course every company wants to make a profit, but it also needs to understand its core beliefs. It needs to be passionate about its products or services and have a real awareness of the meaning and value it has in society. Every advertisement, marketing direction, business decision needs to be motivated by the same beliefs and values. This is translated through the brand, why it exists, its purpose.
Consistency in the company’s message is the key. If there is true sincerity and honesty behind the message, like-minded consumers will be attracted to the brand and become passionate followers because they feel a sense of belonging and ownership of the same values and beliefs. The brand will become part of their identity, and they will become a part of the culture associated with the product. The brand may stand for courage, quality, style, innovation. The consumer now feels all the same qualities the brand projects and the company has built a meaningful and lasting relationship.
They want to stand for something, make a difference, contribute in some way and do the moral thing. They are making choices and they want to align themselves with companies that think the same way. For example, they are choosing to pay twice as much for eggs that are free range or organically certified.
All employees need to embrace and live the core values and beliefs of the company. They all need to be united and have the same vision. If there are inconsistencies, cynicism starts to creep in. It must feel real and true and not manufactured.
Johnson & Johnson is a great example of a company that lives its brand values. Their belief is in the welfare of anyone that uses their products, whether they are mums, dads or patients. These values guide all their decisions and they never deviate from this ethos. Their marketing is always guided by these values and as a consequence has created a strong brand that both consumers and employees want to be associated with.