Building Iconic Brands

Martin RollNovember 14, 20072 min

All companies aspire to build brands that eventually get etched in the culture of the society and become cultural icons. But very few companies are able to achieve this iconic status.

Contrary to popular perception, iconicity does not happen by chance, but rather has to be carefully planned and executed. A look at some of the most iconic brands in history such as Coca-Cola, Harley Davidson, Giorgio Armani, Apple, Aman Resorts and Singapore Airlines reveals some very common characteristics. All these brands fulfilled three important requirements of being an iconic brand:

Create An Identity Myth
For any brand to attain iconic status, it has to create an identity myth. Every society invariably goes through phases of prosperity and crisis. Brands that resonate and show direction to the masses through brand stories and brand activities gets etched into the culture. These brands, by creating an identity for themselves, provide identity to the whole society.

Involve Multiple Story Tellers
Dissemination of brand information through the many participants of the society is critical for an iconic brand. The four major authors of these brand stories are: companies, the culture industries, intermediaries and customers. Each of these authors facilitates the brand to blend into the fabric of the society. By associating the brand and its identity with the prevalent events in the society, these authors create an iconic stature for the brands.

Weave Powerful Brand Stories
Great brands always have resonating stories that touch the lives of consumers. These stories could be of the brand’s unique history (Shanghai), myth (Jim Thompson), culture (Harley Davidson), fashion icon (Giorgio Armani), struggle (Li Ning), and underlying philosophy (Singapore Airlines). These brand stories offers consumers a good reason to elevate the brand beyond their mere utilitarian role in the market.

One of the important results of developing an iconic brand is the growth of brand communities. Brand communities are largely imagined communities that represent a form of human association situated within a consumption context. Brand communities are collections of active loyalists, users of a brand who are committed, conscientious and almost passionate. There is an intrinsic connection between members and the collective sense of difference from others not in the community. Members of the brand community practice rituals and traditions that perpetuate the community’s shared history.

Brand communities are liberated from geography, commercial in nature, possess communal self awareness and are committed that facilitates the brand to attain long term acceptability in the society and ensures that the brand attains iconic state.

By being an important resource for consumers, brand communities provide wider social benefits to consumers through interaction and provide social structure to the relationship between marketer and consumer.

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