Some brands seem to stand the test of time.
They embody a sense of timelessness and the intrinsic knowledge of their values is passed down from generation to generation. They inspire rampant tribalism and unwavering loyalty – the mere mention of the brand name elicits a latent assemblage of unambiguous associations, values, experiences, emotions and perceptions in the mind of the consumer.
The overriding question is this: in an era where the attention economy has colonized consumer attention like a fiefdom, mitigating marketers’ opportunities to elevate a brand to that coveted transcendental and cross-generational status, how can brands effectively and sustainably influence collective consciousness through visual identity?
To find out, I spoke to Jaid Hulsbosch, Director of Hulsbosch, whose passion for embodying cultural significance is linked to a deep belief that simplicity, consistency and keeping promises are essential to creating an “iconic brand”. .
Hulsbosch is an agency that for 40 years has been responsible for shaping and cultivating the identities of some of Australia’s most iconic and beloved brands: Qantas, Woolworths, Virgin Australia, Taronga Zoo, Rebel, Seven Network, eftpos, Foxtel and many more. Hulsbosch places consistency of visual identity and sustained longevity at the forefront of its mission when defining the strategies behind Australia’s most iconic brands.
Hulsbosch finds great significance in pursuing Australia’s brand image – having shaped the perceptions of influential names that reside in the wider Australian lexicon, such as our national carriers, he firmly believes that “the role of a brand is to embody the cultural meaning that is the company’s identity, and to communicate that meaning clearly and simply.
In navigating this incarnation, Hulsbosch, among others, has found himself transforming abstractions into concrete, lasting relationships between consumers and businesses that influence the collective consciousness of the public for generations – he explains that this precise formula of branding is expressed through a passionate series of processes that involve “envisioning a desired future”, rather than acting on “gut responses to changes that may occur in the business”.
“When we brand, we develop an emotional connection between a company and the consumer to build awareness and build customer loyalty,” Hulsbosch says of his intuitive take on brand art.
“A brand is the product of millions of experiences a company creates with people, and the emotional feelings these groups develop as a result of those experiences. However, a brand is not only visualized through your product, service , signs or symbols such as a logo.A mark is also communicated by other means.
“For example, the way the person at the supermarket checkout greets you and takes care of your purchases is exemplary of the brand. The email you receive reminding you of an unpaid invoice is typical of the brand. The person in a call center who answers your questions, the food you eat on an airplane, the music you hear in the mall, the dress code of staff who deal directly with customers, or that distinct smell of freshly ground coffee in a cafe should all be “on brand”. Customers can act quickly and will hold the company accountable if any of these brand expectations are not met. »
Building a lasting legacy and igniting consumer desire comes down to two core philosophies: both “succinctly recap the brand promise to customers” and “the company itself delivers on that promise,” says Hulsbosch.
“Building a brand doesn’t happen overnight. Getting consumers to choose your product over your competitor’s is going to the heart of the business and ensuring that we communicate at all levels in the most direct and straightforward way that that the company represents.
“Woolworths delivers fresh food, Qantas delivers the spirit, McGrath Foundation provides support, Rebel provides inspiration, Starlight Foundation provides brightness. Creating an iconic brand is about bringing the brand promise to life through a engaging, creative and effective visual identity, which is then communicated consistently across all consumer touchpoints.
“Branding shapes a consumer’s perception and differentiates products or services in an attractive, meaningful and compelling way. The keys to creating an iconic brand – simplicity, consistency and keeping our promises. »
This delivery of a cohesive brand promise is so influential that it even inspires sweeping acts of tribal allegiance.
In 2018, 43-year-old Tasmanian Elisabete Lincoln proudly tattooed the Woolworths logo on her hand, vehemently proclaiming that “she was always a Woolies girl”. The tattoo took the internet by storm, with Lincoln at the time telling outlets “it was the perfect way for me to show my loyalty to Woolworths”.
This precise loyalty is an example of Hulsbosch’s articulated philosophy of loyalty engendered by consistency.
There are a host of other instances where dedicated customers ink themselves with the logo of their cherished brand in an effort to become a member of a social group, connect more deeply with brand ideals, and remember values. that the brand itself reflects or embodies.
In Max Barry’s twisted, dystopian 2002 novel “Jennifer Government,” citizens live in an unfettered marketopia where employees take the last names of the companies they work for, and brand worship dominates school curricula. , relationships, health care and life and death issues.
In the book, a scene unfolds where teenagers fight to the death over $2,000, limited-release Nike sneakers at the Chadstone-Walmart mall. Unbeknownst to them, the fact that the shootings were orchestrated by Nike itself as a marketing ploy to stimulate consumer desire and demand, thereby making competitors’ sneakers less culturally desirable.
Although the novel’s grotesque plot is a wildly satirical extension of modern realities of brand loyalty, it serves as a powerful reminder that the constant instillation of universal values, mental imprints and experiences into branding is essential to inspire lasting emotional attachment and consumer loyalty.
“Branding is about visualizing emotion. It shapes, clarifies and articulates how an organization perceives itself and its products. When we brand, we are developing an emotional connection between a business and the consumer to build awareness and build customer loyalty,” says Hulsbosch.
“Extensive research and careful strategic planning guide branding processes. When envisioning a desired future, that vision must be translated into broadly defined goals – the brand goal. This sets the tone for the value proposition, which is a defining set of beliefs that lead the brand to adopt a “personality”, describing its character traits and how it might be perceived in the community. »
“Once established, brand personality positions the brand in a national or global context. And it is from this platform, with a defined sense of place and purpose, that compelling brand ideas are generated and launched. It is the role of the brand strategist to extract what the brand stands for, then develop a brand brief to ensure that key decision makers agree on the essence of the brand, its competitive advantage, its market target and its value proposition.
When I asked Hulsbosch what it meant to create a brand legacy that endures for generations, he was firm in expressing that strategically developing a long-term, holistic direction was key to sustaining both success and longevity.
“Unlike tactical planning, which is more focused on achieving intermediate goals, our brand identity and design is strategic in that it encompasses a wide range of contexts. Its longevity requires branding to be strategic, to stay relevant, and flexible, to stay ahead of the pack.
Brands will always dominate an influential position in the Australian collective consciousness, and so the art of effective and sustained branding obviously relies on a disciplined approach to managing public perception.
The responsibility of years spent cultivating the heritage of some of Australia’s most recognised, loved and enduring brands alongside his team has not been lost on Hulsbosch.
“The brands we have created, and others, influence the collective consciousness. We are proud and humbled to have this position of influence and we will continue to carry out this responsibility with great care, passion and professionalism.