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

"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

"The Ad Plain’s digital skills and expertise have helped Interagro in building a social media presence in the agricultural market place. TAP are innovative and creative with their ideas and at the forefront of developing social media strategies. A dynamic and forward thinking team - an absolute joy to work with."

Emma Ralph - Managing Director, Interagro

"Mexico Tourism Board worked with 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

"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