In Jenga, if you want to build a bulky tower you need to have a strong base. In branding it is quite the same. In brand building, you need a strong foundation and that’s your core idea.
Purpose – The Why
The concept of the core idea in latest years has been very much merged with Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why”. If you’ve been living under a rock, “Start with Why” states that the reason why some companies selling the same products/services outperform others is Purpose. They ask themselves “Why they do what they do” and consumers buy into that purpose.
It is a rather oversimplified view, after all not every brand with a purpose will be successful, a purpose might not create a differentiated brand territory on its own. But the lack of a clear purpose for many brands in the past has made having one differentiating enough for success in some industries.
However, while having a core idea is not the only step for success, it is probably one of the most important for successful brand building.
The more mature a market is, the more competition and therefore the more important branding is.
Companies usually start from a product idea. With that, the core idea for its brand is built organically and intuitively as the business is built, with no clear picture or any rules or values set in stone. When the product is new and original, it carries the brand’s differentiation in the early years. However, when more competitors offer the same product, its originality falls short. Look at Cabify and Uber, no one can seem to justify their decision to use one or the other besides their availability. Both started a unique service, at around the same price, which is becoming less unique. There is no core idea to their brands that can justify picking one over the other. Uber has even stated publicly last year that they never had a brand voice.
On the other hand there’s heated arguments and broken friendships (maybe slightly exaggerating here) about preferring Coke over Pepsi. Their product is very similar, but they don’t communicate on product benefits but through ideas, personalities and different voices. The more mature a market is, the more competition and therefore the more important branding is.
The creation and formalization of the Core Idea is the first step, the base to proper brand building which drives loyalty. Once laid down, it is the foundation of coherence and consistency in anything from why your logo looks a certain way to how you should act in a media crisis.
A brand decision is only right in coherence with its core idea. Without it, everything else falls apart.