Jedd Cokayne says not all brands are
created equal and that a distinctive brand will be the most successful during
2020.

As we move into the latter part of
the year, we reflect more and more on the events that have taken place that
determine how we live our lives, do business, how we conduct ourselves when
leaving the house and consider safety procedures we have to follow in order to
stay safe and healthy. The virtual watercooler chat is all about social
distancing, sanitising, modulated education and the main topic of course is
what the remainder of 2020 will look like. For me, the biggest changes are
around the inability to interact with my friends and family, work colleagues
and clients and not having the opportunity to go to the bush. Cabin Fever is
truly setting in.

While I ponder over when I will ever
get to the bush again and the fond memories I have of my travels, I think of
one of the most iconic silhouettes on the African landscape – the Baobab tree,
also known as the Tabaldi, Bottle tree, Upside Down Tree or the Monkey Bread
Tree. The Baobab can grow up to heights of 20m and carbon dating indicates that
it may live to be a staggering 3000 years old.

With an entire ecosystem within it
from birds nesting in the branches to baboons devouring the fruits, Bush Babies
drinking the nectar from the flowers and elephants eating the bark, this is one
of the most distinctive trees in Africa easily recognisable by travellers
around the world.

This distinctiveness leads me to the
content of this article and the upward battle all brands are facing in 2020 due
to the COVID-19 Pandemic. We have read so much about marketing in a recession,
how brands are reacting to new consumer behaviours and potentially what the new
norm is, but what many brands are forgetting is the one thing that makes them
stand head and shoulders above their competitors – that which creates their
distinctiveness and potentially further develops brand loyalty.

All brands like to think they are
unlike any other, but that’s usually not the case. What does make a brand
unique are its distinctive brand assets. These act as an invaluable shorthand
for a brand, it’s a cue for consumers to bring all their previous experiences
and associated meaning of a brand to the fore and influence that purchase
decision.

Now more than ever, distinctiveness
is key to helping a brand stay afloat in very tough economic conditions. We
forget how important various brand assets are in keeping the brand alive in the
eyes of the consumer whether it is a name, a slogan, unique value proposition,
visual characteristic or a logo, all of these things make a brand unique.

But how do we determine what a brand
asset actually is from the various brand elements within a company? Each brand
element needs to be unique, authentically associated and well known to
consumers while representing the brand. Assets seek to reinforce the brand’s
core values and convey the benefits it promises to deliver.

While brands are trying to develop
new ways of working because of the pandemic, this is an ideal time for them to
consolidate and identify those distinctive assets that will not only help them
survive the current situation but also reinforce it and become competitive
again in the future.

  1. Ruthlessly
    audit your existing brand elements or what you perceive to be distinctive.
    Remember to include historical icons etc that may still ring true for the
    brand.
  2. Your
    consumers are a great gauge of what is distinct about your brand, get
    feedback from them and collect data that can help in the future.
  3. The
    faster people make the association between individual brand assets and a
    brand, the more likely your market share will grow and not just your
    category awareness.

The below table is from the Ehrenberg
Bass Institute (EBI) for Marketing Science and a great way of assessing brand
assets and determining if they are worthy of highlighting or casting aside.

Once those brand assets have been
identified and developed, leverage them and reap the rewards.


  1. Use
    them consistently across all marketing campaigns, channels and touchpoints
    available.
  2. Evaluate
    them often and rely on real feedback from your target market.
  3. Keep
    an eye on competitors and ensure you are agile. They are happy to hijack
    your ideas especially if they aren’t protected.
  4. Be
    smart when you introduce a new brand asset and ensure you run it with the
    brand name until you can measure the brand association.
  5. Take
    ownership of the brand.

Within a short space of time the
marketing rule book has changed and what worked yesterday may not necessarily
work today or tomorrow. The key to success is adaptability and the reliance on
your brand’s distinctiveness to influence the buyer’s journey.

We previously mentioned that consumer
behaviour has dramatically changed over the past four months but by utilising
brand assets correctly with nurtured messaging at a decision-making juncture,
will help consumer’s link the benefits and value propositions of your brand at
the point of purchase and help protect your brand through the turbulent waters
of 2020.

So, as we face this one day at a time
spare a thought for the Monkey Bread Tree and all the changes they have had to
endure and adapted accordingly over the thousands of years they have been
around.

Owlhurst Communications