The Importance of Brand Behaviour 26th January 2015
Consistent behaviour is perhaps one of the most important elements to a successful brand but one that can often be overlooked with the draw of new and exciting events or collaborative opportunities.
In recent years we have seen a real emergence in fashion brands aligning themselves to showcases and other brands/industries, some clearly successful, but others that have lacked credibility, resonance and most importantly: a story.
A brand’s behaviour is linked to its platform. Who are we? What do we stand for? Why are we doing this? How are we doing it? Then inevitably Where and When? – The old key five ‘W’s and the ‘H’ rule.
As a brand, fully understanding your offer and behaving internally and externally in a consistent manner cultivates faith and understanding with the consumer and aligns colleagues, prospective customers and media to the brand.
A recent trend over the past few years has seen automotive brands collaborating with the fashion industry. Some taking the line that sleek design and performance mirror the artisan qualities of tailoring. As a top line, this makes some sense, but there has to be more to it.
In terms of collaboration, the most common mistake a brand can make is to align to another brand or industry that is completely foreign, therefore questioning the brand behaviour. Building the story behind the partnership and a transparent communication strategy is of paramount importance.
Take, for example, Mercedes-Benz sponsorship of fashion weeks across the globe. At the beginning of the partnership there was a temptation to start behaving as a fashion brand, hosting show news, features and imagery on their own bespoke website for the consumer to read, but, of course, other established fashion media do exactly the same thing.
However, Mercedes were wise enough to realise that fundamentally their business is in selling cars. Any sponsorship should act as a method for them to be part of a fresh industry, but as a facilitator rather than an enabler.
The result has been a long and fruitful relationship where Mercedes create/curate bespoke interviews – to and from shows in cars – films catwalk showcases and designer interviews, all hosted on their unique URL but then issued exclusively to key media.
The output doesn’t question their platform as a luxury car marque, it enables part of their business to be part of a luxury sector using product as a key tool.
Another mistake is for brands to hop from one collaboration to another. Understandably, behind the scenes, decision-makers are keen to keep activations fresh and new. But this can affect credibility.
Media and opinion-formers can be fickle and to be seen ‘cashing in’ can cause negative questioning. To maintain that reasoning, or an evolving and established programme of work that bears clear relevance is again, of paramount importance.
Not too long ago I represented a luxury car brand that worked closely with a catwalk designer, and they are still working together today.
The programme built for the collaboration involved a young, emerging annual talent event with a prestigious university, sponsorship of their show at London Fashion Week and product design all backed with assets including photography, film, interviews and exclusives. Most importantly with a clear, aligned theme running throughout.
In summary, a brand has to firstly identify those key behaviours, communicate across their business and people and then build a communications strategy that befits and stays faithful to it. If an idea cannot be linked back to that early brand platform then it has to be seriously questioned.