Is it worth trying to create an iconic brand?

man's hands holding Orthodox church icon

Iconic. It’s one of the most abused words in the English language. Particularly by marketers. Is it worth setting out to create an ‘iconic brand’ or does it just happen if you get the rest of your marketing right?

Iconic beer of Italy?

Birra Moretti is that latest brand to say it sees itself as iconic.

In Moretti’s case, presumably they want to be viewed as the iconic brand that ‘represents’ Italian beer, even the Italian lifestyle. It sounds like an Oxbridge entrance exam question: “The Italian lifestyle: discuss.”

Would it include these elements?

  1. Owned by the Dutch
  2. Readily available in Germany, the Netherlands, Serbia and, of course, the UK

It’s not always even made in Italy – although much is made of the brewery in Udine, north-east of Venice, it forms part of the Heineken stable. So it is brewed under licence here in the UK, which cuts the carbon footprint but does little for authenticity.

It’s not the size of the brand that matters. While Heineken is the biggest brewer in Italy, Peroni Nastro Azzurro is the best-selling Italian beer in the world. So Moretti may struggle.

Iconic is a defensive platform

Sticking the label ‘iconic’ on your brand is a defensive measure. Its primary function is to cut out the other brands in your segment. If you are the plus non ultra in your category, then your competitors are inevitably diminished.

Some brands arguably have attained that status. Guinness. The Red Cross. Apple. Nike.

But how many more? Even this list on creativebloq contains some dubious entries: Veuve Cliquot? It’s a lovely drink but hardly the only brand you think of when someone says ‘Champagne?’

Like that other overused word trust, iconic is something that has to be earned. You cannot define yourself as iconic; it is a quality bestowed on you by others, by your consumers, influencers, society.

Five steps for a wannabe iconic brand

But, like every aspect of business communication, there are certain behaviours that make consumers more likely to view you as iconic.

  1. Create a strong identity – be that your logo, typeface, tone of voice; be bold and consistent
  2. Tell powerful brand stories – focus every story you tell on your vision and values, consistently express why you make the world a better place
  3. Build a community – the best way to build a community of adherents is to be a community. Create and curate a safe space for customers to share stories, comments and thoughts about what matter to them.
  4. Take a lead and influence others – they used to say if you want to be the market leader, behave like the market leader. Same’s true whatever way you want to stand out. To be iconic, make sure everyone you come into contact with knows why you matter and what difference you make.
  5. Be a friend – in today’s environment, those brands which get involved in issues are more likely to succeed and be viewed as capturing the Zeitgeist than those who remain obsessed with product sales.

Create the right buzz around your brand and you have taken the first steps towards iconic status. Just don’t stick that label on yourself.

Give us a shout if you’d like to improve how your brand is thought of by others.

(Image courtesy of James Coleman on Unsplash.)

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