True branding

True branding is a collectively held idea of a company by it’s customers, stakeholders, employees and anyone else that can form an opinion.

There’s a real misconception not only in the creative industries, but in business as to what true branding is. Branding is not a logo, a typeface or a set of colours.

The reason we brand and rebrand companies is to give them a competitive edge in their respective markets, to launch or re-launch a product or service – whether domestically or internationally and to instil culture change.

In short – we help businesses be more profitable by discovering, creating positive differentials and communicating their unique brand proposition.

There are 3 key ingredients to creating a strong compelling brand.

1. Trust needs to exist between the brand and consumer
2. There needs to be a common ground between the brand and consumer
3. The brand needs a compelling point of difference.

The American Airlines story

American Airlines is one of a handful of brands that is a true American icon that connects with millions of people on a daily basis – so why rebrand? Well, first you have to ask yourself – What is America in today’s world? What relevance does America have outside of America? Not a great deal according to people across the world, technology, entertainment and progress.

In approaching the brand development programme, American polled both their employees and the larger globe about what defines the American Airlines brand (Predominantly, the planes’ silver fuselage and the eagle logo) and what is America in the age of globalisation. The research phase of any true branding development programme is fundamental. Only then can you begin to explore any visual assets of the brand.

American spirit

The old identity was slightly skewed to a more powerful American image. We needed to move it to, we call it ‘American spirit.’ What’s the side of America people really, really love,” Futurebrand’s Chief Creative Officer Sven Seger explains. “People have huge love for the eagle, but not necessarily the eagle in the downward position potentially attacking someone.”

The eagle has been transformed into a flight symbol – it’s both a bird and a wing, focussed on the flight. Research also found that the American flag was of course another defining asset of America. But in today’s global market, how did American go about portraying the flag without an obvious patriotic deployment? The solution was a striped abstract delivery of the flag – augmented into a high-velocity graphic printed on each plane’s tail. The flag will be present on the aircraft only. You won’t find it anywhere else in the brand evolution.

Inevitably, for such an iconic brand and with a 40+ year brand heritage under it’s wing, change won’t come easy for everyone associated with the rebrand. However, will the rebrand have a positive notion on America itself? Only time will tell.

If you have any questions around the topic of true branding, please email me at tim@realworldthinking.co or take a look at some of the brand work we’ve been doing for our clients in our real work section.

Image source: unsplash.com

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