Brands Are Built In Iterations

by | Mar 24, 2015 | Branding Strategies

It’s very rare to find a brilliantly simple solution on the first try. Eureka moments come far further down the cycle.

Trial, discovery, and iterations are an essential ingredient in finding brilliant ideas.

A Brand Is Built In Steps

Iconic brands are built over decades and thousands of iterations.

Starbucks is one of the most successful and profitable quick serve restaurants in the world. Over the course of 30+ years the company has grown an iconic brand. The brand is well managed and understood, but it took a great deal of iteration and experimentation to get the brand to what it is today.

For example, Scott Bedbury writes in A New Brand World, “I knew the aliens were among us when, in the course of a retail business review session, it was suggested that Starbucks remove the small ‘short’ cups and introduce a whale of a beverage container that would be more profitable. The largest size Starbucks had at the time, sixteen ounces, was a grande. What would we call the larger size? Mucho grande?”

We call these larger cups venti today, and most people think nothing of it. It’s just part of the Starbucks brand. But as you can see from Scott’s description, the venti cup was a contentious topic.

This is not unusual to Starbucks. All brands go through iterations. The ideas that work are kept, built upon, and developed. The ones that don’t work are learning opportunities.

Build Trial and Discovery Into Branding

Great ideas take work. Give yourself and your team the room to play and learn.

In my approach to brand building, I am constantly looking for opportunities to convert ideas into action. I’d rather try an idea in a contained environment than continue to brainstorm and debate at the boardroom table.

The faster you can get in front of customers, the faster you can validate an idea.

This learning is invaluable. Not only do you discover if your idea has merit, you build upon it. You give it context. You shape and mold it. You give the idea room to grow into something that can actually shape your brand.

Create Feedback Loops To Learn Faster

With each iteration create feedback loops. An experiment without measures isn’t very useful.

Identify the data points or insights you want to capture at each iteration. What do you want to learn? What do you want to prove? What do you want to know?

The feedback loops don’t have to be complicated. One of my favorite tools to test brand messaging (Simple Clarity) is the Win/Loss Card™. This is a qualitative assessment a salesperson completes after they deliver a pitch to a prospect, client, or referral partner. The process is inexpensive, easy to implement, and can deliver insights in less than two weeks.

There are lots of ways to gather insights. Choose the tools and process that fit the goals of each iteration.

Iterate Quickly

Ideation requires action. As you discover ideas, test them. Implement them and gather insights.

The faster you can iterate, the faster you can grow a Sticky Brand.


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Jeremy Miller

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