Know these four fundamental branding truths

We all have our favourite brands but have you ever wondered what makes a brand truly successful and memorable? 

We collaborated with Mark Thake of The Idea Engine on our TAP rebrand recently (Duncan & Shaun worked with Mark previously at Bray Leino) and took the opportunity to pose some big branding questions to him.  Please take a moment to read on and consider Mark’s thoughts on branding, loyalty and the big idea.

Firstly, a brand should know what it is and why it exists. A strong brand should be distinctive and easily recognisable and behave accordingly 24/7. It should be positioned so that it’s easy for the consumer to relate to it and true to itself. Brilliant brands focus on being the best at what they do for their customers and employees, and don’t worry too much about the competition.

If you’re considering your own brand growth or rebrand, remember, there’s no point claiming to be successful in areas that you are not confident in. Make sure you have a core focus on what your brand stands for and don’t try to diversify too much. However, every business is interested in growth, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the integrity of the brand. I frequently find family owned business brands, often using their family names are more sensitive to this challenge. Why risk a family brand name that has been around for 100 years to start selling something new?

A strong brand is a true asset…

1. Brand perception often is the reality

As competition creates infinite choices, companies look for ways to connect emotionally with customers, become irreplaceable, and create lifelong relationships. A strong brand stands out in a densely crowded marketplace. People fall in love with brands, trust them, and believe in their superiority. How a brand is perceived affects its success, regardless of whether it’s a start-up, a non-profit, or a product.

2. What is branding?

Branding is a disciplined process used to build awareness, create value and mobilise advocacy. It requires a clear and determined mandate from the top to invest in the future. A desire to lead, outpace the competition and inspire employees to maximise their potential for the benefit of customers and society.

3. Be distinctive & create loyalty

Compelling brand identity presents any organisation, of any size, in any place with an immediately recognisable, distinctive image that positions it currently – based on a brand truth. A new, simple and imaginative identity will re-energise employees, attract new customers and mobilise advocacy. Don’t forget the tone of voice and personality of the brand, even more important now given emergence of social media and brand content.

4. The big idea

The top 20 brands stand for something - a Big Idea, a strategic position, a defined set of values and a voice that stands apart.  A big idea functions as an organisational totem pole around which strategy, behaviour, actions, and communications are aligned. These simply worded statements are used internally as a beacon of a distinctive culture and externally as a competitive advantage that help consumers make choices. ‘A brand becomes stronger when you’re single-minded.’ 


Plenty to contemplate and in the words of the brand guru who inspired this blog, Wally Olins, CBE “Overall, because branding is about creating and sustaining trust it means delivering on promises. The best and most successful brands are completely coherent. Every aspect of what they do and what they are reinforces everything else.”

Mark Thake - 16/04/18

Mark Thake

Mark Thake has spent the last 30 years delivering outstanding creative across many sectors.

"Partnering with TAP has helped our team tackle the challenges of the European marketplace and its diversity of geographies and languages. TAP’s expertise, connections and work has strengthened our brand, content and social media efforts. We appreciate its responsive collaborative approach, and its ability to work efficiently within short timelines, limited budgets and across time zones and languages. Plus it connected quickly with our team and are a pleasure to work with."

Colleen Shaw - Global Communications Leader, Nuseed

"TAP provide us with a plethora of digital design services. From our website to our client online support system and even our emailers. I have worked with TAP for a number of years as a partner to our business and can't recommend them enough."

Paul Guinane – Director, Soft Egg

"We worked with The Ad Plain for 3 years. During that time they re-launched our in-flight magazine “altitude” and were responsible for generating advertising revenue. Their ad sales targets were based on significant increases in performance and they remained very true to these targets. They also effectively managed to accommodate group marketing requirements through advertising and editorial. We were pleased with the level of service they offered and altitude regularly performed top in our annual passenger research."

Alyna Trotman - Formerly In-flight Director,

"The Ad Plain team partner with our business in a seamless way delivering the best return from our media budget, ensuring we take full opportunity of new concepts and driving our social media activities in a progressive and most professional way, the relationship and trust we have in The Ad Plain is highly valued."

Geoff Hall - Commercial Lead NW Europe, Monsanto

"We have worked with TAP now for nearly 10 years and during that time have worked on many projects across our brand portfolio - all of which were completed on time, to budget but most of all delivered the creative communication we were looking for. Apart from the formal work the team are truly helpful and a real joy to work with."

Martyn Westbury - International Travel Retail Manager, MARS

"Over the last number of years we have solely used TAP to produce our internal communications literature for Aer Lingus. They produce posters, leaflets, newsletters and brochures on a regular basis for us. As important as the content is, we need our large amount of staff to actually pick them up and read them. TAP's design solutions make them eye catching, professional and clear to understand. They are very flexible to work with and they are always available to us when needed."

Joe Harvey – Formerly Crew Communications Manager, Aer Lingus

"Mexico Tourism Board continues to use TAP for all its creative requirements for UK, Ireland and Scandinavia. We have been delighted with the strong creative concepts which work effectively over a broad spectrum of media. In addition, as well as communicating a strong image of Mexico, the creative works to accurately portray the rich diversity of Mexico's many regions. The whole team are always ready to help and will find a solution for any problem and hit even the tightest deadlines."

Lupita Ayala - Deputy Director, Mexico Tourism Board

"I've worked with plenty of design studios in the past and TAP are just fantastic at handling our creative needs. Particularly brochures, which they write, photograph and design from scratch with no fuss."

Geoff Hutley - Former MD, Zero Group

"TAP was very creative in its execution of our ideas and delivered a quality promotional video we are very proud of."

Steve Smith - Cisco Systems, Key Accounts Manager

"All we had was literally a name. TAP provided an outstanding corporate identity for our growing business. We are very happy with it all and the logo really encapsulates our brand values and positioning"

Louise Smith – Director, Locally Bourn

"I worked with TAP for 3 years and they very much acted as our PR department. Their strategy, dealing with the press and high creative standards were a significant factor in our substantial growth."

Geoff Hutley - Former Managing Director, The Zero Group

"TAP have helped Monsanto through all stages of establishing and building a social media presence for DEKALB, which yielded impressive results in a recent high-profile website launch."

Lucy Kane - Production & Marketing Coordinator, Monsanto

"The Ad Plain's professional, creative and patient approach enabled us to produce a vibrant and accessible report for the conference which will stand the test of time and which is already creating demand for further copies. Thank you to The Ad Plain team for working so effectively with us."

Julian Gairdner - Co-chairman Oxford Farming Conference 2014