Jenni A, founder of Goose Design, discusses brand DNA – how to define it and how to apply it to the brand and its products to strengthen identity.
Heritage is what a brand is synonymous with – what exists at the brand’s core.
For example, Lee Cooper is a lifestyle denim brand, licensed globally and steeped in British heritage. In 2009 we were asked to look into their Brand Strategy and had to look at all aspects of brand extensions and make sure that whatever the product, the Brand DNA rules were adhered to from a design perspective; apparel, footwear or accessories. There were elements we built into the Seasonal Direction and Style Guides which were translated across the brand such as the military details from their heritage supplying uniform, the red pop details running through all product, East London references and the Diamond stitch that comes directly from their logo and is integrated into design. Branding concepts were inspired from the early days of war-struck London, such as ration books influencing the design of the “Swing Tickets”. Brands must respect and acknowledge their heritage from the smallest detail to ensure consistency.
Taking into account where a brand originated allows brands to incorporate the culture of the place. Working in tandem with heritage, a brand’s culture demonstrates how their roots influence and inspire their identity.
The Lee Cooper Brand is British and not American, which is truly itself unique for a heritage denim brand, because most are US born and bred, hailing from the Goldrush days. We wanted to stamp “Britishness” all over the brand, allowing products to flourish into the international market as great UK exports. We also wanted to resurrect the British Rock and Roll attitude that whole-heartedly demonstrated the culture of the brand, with Lee Cooper having a history of bands endorsing their products such as the legendary Rolling Stones. With a rich heritage demonstrated through its own unique culture, this allowed the label to be set apart from its peers in the market, creating longevity and integrity in the brand.
The history and evolution of a brand tells a story and creates another way of projecting a brand. Reflective manifestation of a story through company products, advertising, branding and design is integral to creating a successful brand and allows consumers to connect with what you are selling. For example, Nike and the evolution of sportswear through focused product strategies inspiring the new contemporary athletes. You can always tell a Nike product and its clean, dynamic and innovative design ethos and associated marketing stories. Think how powerful the Nike Wall ad was for the 1994 World cup campaign. They were launching into the World of Football with their new innovative football boot range called Nike Tiempo with an equally innovative and dynamic advertising strategy – an astounding way to celebrate their Brand DNA. It inspired me so much I took my first job in design with them.
The values of a brand allow the customer to relate to what you are selling, creating and sharing. Working in synergy with a brand’s story, which serves to also hone in on the values, this firmly allows customers to connect with the beliefs and values of a business, creating devotion and loyalty on the part of the consumer.
A young consumer who purchases a Lee Cooper product buys into the values of the brand. The cool aspects and excitement of London, the British heritage, and the music icons and of course the product references that tell those stories.
Brands must reinforce their values into Product DNA and develop product strategies which incorporate killer details that tell their stories – this is what will set them apart from other brands.