Today’s best brands have a heart and brain that we call a living brand. They function strategically, empathize humanly, and listen consciously. In a crowded and competitive ecosystem, these brands pivot and adapt to the needs of their employees, customers and competitors. Their success is a result of careful listening, strategic messaging, and relentless engagement.
What is a living brand?
A living brand according to Michael Jager of Solidarity (the guy who trademarked the term) is “the ability to adapt to and evolve with change, while retaining its integrity and differentiation… A Living Brand relates to its audience through a balancing of rational, emotional, and cultural dimensions.”
A living brand is one that mirrors the growth and interests of your audience to be consistently relevant. When done well, the foundation of a brand should remain intact while its message, visual language, and the channels it leverages for communication shift according to the whims of their audience.
MTV is the embodiment of a living brand.
You know the three letters that make up the MTV logo. For three decades the iconic brand has managed to insert itself into every music and entertainment niche on the planet. From country, and hip hop, to indie folk rock and soul, the MTV brand is relatable to almost every consumer of music and entertainment.
This happened in part because the MTV logo has been adapted to reflect every kind of entertainment taste while retaining its recognizable form. From clean and pristine, to graffiti drenched and raunchy, to decorated and erased, the icon shape is never lost despite the artistry applied to its simple shape.
Living brands in the small business world.
Branding is the perception that your audience has about your business. It’s the narrative that sets your offering apart and inspires engagement. Today’s discerning audiences expect brands to reflect who they are, and to convey human-like qualities of authenticity, trust, responsiveness and empathy. To build a living brand for your business consider the following:
- Harness data and research to understand your audience.
- Listen to their needs and adapt quickly as their interests.
- Focus on relevancy first, then consistency.
- Adapt and pivot to market forces.
- Get hyper personalized with your messaging.
- Shift to the media channels most relevant to your audience.
- Maintain consistent communication with your audience.
- Empower your audience to help shape your brand narrative.
- Turn your core offering into an experience.
- Integrate your communication and services with industry peers.
Living brands endure by studying the whims of their environment and then shift accordingly. They leverage research, data, and great design to attach compelling, relatable experiences to their offering. A living brand can quickly adapt as their audience, competitors and market forces evolve, and they’re not afraid to present their logo and visual messaging as a foil for their audience’s interests and values.
Let’s chat about your business and branding objectives. Book a free 60-minute consultation with me.