Last month, LGD co-founder Paul Eide spent a weekend in Akron, OH during a brand immersion with one of the best brands on earth, Goodyear.
Branding isn’t as simple as spending a couple hundred dollars on a logo and saying, “VIOLA – check out my new brand!”
As the term and idea of branding have become more popular than ever, that means that even less people and organizations are doing it correctly. The ones that do are the most successful organizations in any industry.
What defines any brand are the small, meticulous decisions made day-to-day amongst everyone in the organization. And, most importantly, 100% buy-in from everyone involved with the brand in any way. From the CEO to the cleaning staff.
A successful, well-run brand has a clear outline of expectations and procedures. Typically these are called “Brand Standards.” Brand standards are a literal document that outlines voice and tone of written communication, to correct and incorrect logo usage. Here is an example of one we devised for our client, Zak Family Foods.
When I went to the Goodyear company headquarters in Akron, OH, the first stop was a conference room where key executives (the North American Marketing Director, American CEO, etc.) gave a PowerPoint presentation saying the same things you’d hear any big company say – our employees are our most important asset, no single part is greater than the whole, and no one person is more important than anyone else.
All of these things could easily be construed as lip service. But then we went on a full factory tour, where the rubber met the road, you might say. And you could see why they’ve been in business since 1898.
Nothing was out of place. Not a speck of dirt anywhere. Safety precautions for the assembled media and employees was rigid.
The employees at each station took legitimate pride in their work; you could feel it as they explained their roles within the company. From the guy whose job it was to manually watch each tire roll through the x-ray machine for any defects, to the woman who made sure each tire had the right amount of pressure, by hand.
Goodyear is the official tire sponsor of NASCAR and every tire is made by hand. There is so much pride in the work, plus accountability, that each tire has a name plate of the tech who assembled their tire inside.
The logo is an extension of a brand. It should be a visual representation of what the brand is, and what it is like to work with. In one glance, people should feel compelled to work with you. Or not!
The Goodyear logo is one of the most recognized logos in the world. There are over 100 variations based on usage. Even over many iterations, the brand equity is maintained and each has the same feel. That is no accident, completely intentional.
And what is more recognizable than the Goodyear Blimp? Not much. The express purpose of the blimp’s existence is marketing. Based on being present at almost every major sporting event, a partnership between Goodyear and various networks to provide live in-game footage.
Speaking of the blimp, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this pic of me and NASCAR legend Ray Evernham enjoying the plush interior accommodations.
So what’s the point of this blog post? The best brands are the best brands for a reason – they live what their vision is at all times, in every decision, even the “mundane” ones. They have a clear vision of their strategy and live it every day.
And if they don’t, the brand fails, gets fragmented, or at the very least fails to deliver on the brand promise that reeled consumers and fans in, in the first place.