My favourite brands

Not everyone likes to admit it but brands play an important role in our lives; everyone has those brands they can’t resist as well as those they actively avoid. As one of the brand strategists at Orb, I’ve decided to share what my favourite brands are and why.

Lego
Who doesn’t love Lego? Well actually it wasn’t so long ago that it appeared there were plenty of people who didn’t. In 2003 sales were down 30% year-on-year and its debt was estimated at around $800m.

But the turnaround since then has been remarkable, in 2015 it overtook Mattel as the world’s largest toy company in terms of revenue, and was named the world’s most powerful brand by Brand Finance.

This success was due to many reasons, but one of the main drivers in boosting sales was a refocus on its core brand offering. Using the purpose of inspiring future builders, encouraging creative freedom, and above all…fun. Lego went on a rampage of brand engagement, constantly communicating with its audiences and responding to what they wanted.

As a creative lacking any actual artistic talent, I loved the toy as a kid (and still do) because unlike painting or sculpting, I could actually make it look like the ideas in my head. From a branding perspective I admire the dedication Lego have to their brand; every single touch point is thought through down to the smallest detail in terms of ‘How can we make this more Lego?”

The Lego brand is driven by a clear, authentic mission, and executed with a sense of humour that appeals to every age group. Just watch the Lego Movie (2014) for the perfect example of what the Lego brand is all about.

Puma
As the smaller brand of the big three in football, Puma have had to think harder than most about their brand, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog or in this case, the undercat.

Puma have a fascinating history that I can’t fit into this blog, but from my point of view they are a great example of the importance of brand strategy. Looking to maximise sales they neglected their brand in the past and paid the price. The Puma brand began appearing in various discount stores, and completely lost equity. They had to undergo a huge shift in strategy to retake control and reinvent themselves as a sports lifestyle brand.

What I like about Puma is that they clearly looked at their competitors, customers, and capabilities and thought strategically about how they could position their brand to differentiate themselves.

Unable to afford the vast amount of high profile teams and player sponsorships of its larger rivals, The Puma brand shunned glitz and glamour, instead focusing on the emotion of football. Just look at their World Cup 2010 advert above for a great example of this.

Recently they’ve started to shift closer to the other brands, probably in fear of new entrants into the market such as New Balance. It’s a shame because the football brand landscape is starting to feel like a homogenous lump, and I fear the Puma brand will suffer.

Nintendo
Nintendo is a brand that delights and frustrates me in equal measures, but still ranks as one of my favourites because it’s played such a big part in my life.

What I love about Nintendo is their determination to stick to their brand values; they are fully focused around innovation and entertainment. Again, Nintendo is a great example of a brand looking at competitors and positioning themselves accordingly. Nintendo let Xbox and Sony Playstation compete on power and capabilities, while Nintendo champions gameplay and fun. They brush off sniggers about their brand being too child like and embrace their universal family appeal.

What frustrates me about Nintendo is while they say they listen to their consumers, they actually don’t. It often feels like they go out of there way deliver the exact opposite of what the market wants and then try and convince them to like it. They need to take a leaf out of Lego’s book and start opening up their brand engagement as they can only live off nostalgic brand loyalty for so long.

The brands above are some of the biggest brands in the world and all show that even the very best can get it wrong from time to time. Whether it’s losing focus on their core offering, misaligning brand and business strategy, or ignoring what the market wants, there are so many pitfalls for brands to fall into. The constant need to be forward thinking and adapt, for me, is what makes brand strategy so interesting.