Holistic Vs. Fragmented Branding
I had the pleasure of writing this blog with Cate Sheehy, producer at Zinnia Films. Her expertise in video gave a unique perspective to the value of a holistic brand.
If I had to sum it up in a few words, a holistic brand is the combination of strong messaging with memorable visuals. When I think of a holistic brand, I immediately turn to Old Bay – a simple seasoning that brings people together with an iconic yellow and blue tin. Old Bay is as familiar as the comfort foods and family recipes we sprinkle it on. They even have an Old Bay nation where you can connect with fans from all over the country. Old Bay tells a story, from their commercials and billboards, to their Facebook page and downloadable screensavers. Their holistic approach gave them the platform to be a seafood staple.
Now that you’ve got Old Bay on the brain, let’s dive into the details on what a holistic brand is. A holistic branding approach looks at your entire business (people, processes and products) and tailors a solution to align messaging/culture with overall identity. This approach ensures:
- All internal communications and staff are completely onboard with the mission of the organization, from the human resources department to the bull pen.
- Target audiences are dissected and defined. Not only do you know who they are, you understand how they think and what they value.
- Consumers experience your brand. The brand story isn’t solely showcased on the website or letterhead – visual elements are only a part of the holistic approach. It’s experienced from customer service and video, to mobile apps and a social cause embedded within the organization’s beliefs.
- The brand is seamless and consistent across all channels. This includes online and offline efforts – tangible and intangible elements.
- The brand is adaptable and flexible to change. The core values will always remain the same.
A fragmented branding approach only focuses on branding pieces, primarily visual elements or weak messaging, to gain brand recognition. For example, J.O. Spice Company offers a similar product to Old Bay. While they both have similar nutrition facts, J.O Spice isn’t nearly as recognizable or nostalgic as Old Bay. Just by taking a precursor look at their website, they’re primarily pushing products and history. They’re not showcasing customers or a unique value proposition. Fragmented branding is a piecemeal strategy that isn’t sustainable for growth or the ever-changing consumer mindset. This includes:
- Fragmented or inconsistent messaging among internal staff and consumers.
- A lack of clarity on not only “what” the organization does, but “why.” Without understanding the underlying values of the organization, the brand falls flat. It becomes more of a “features and benefits” conversation rather than a customer-focused dialogue that is personal, valuable and mutually beneficial.
- Using the logo as a stamp of recognition opposed to a supporting element to the messaging/content that should primarily shine through.
- Difficulty creating valuable content – it becomes more of a chore, than an effortless communication tool that’s honest and authentic.
By taking on a holistic approach where messaging and visuals align, everything becomes, well, easier. Content is crowd-sourced or created based on consumer demand. Communication is clear and purposeful. There are no questions about how to portray the company or what tone to use – messaging becomes effortless, especially when it comes to video. Cate Sheehy, producer at Zinnia Films says,
With holistic branding in place, determining the components of a successful video campaign becomes a much more organic process. Videos are being used for websites, social media marketing, television commercials, and monthly video blogs, making it imperative to produce pieces that complement each other despite being released over different mediums. This can be achieved through deliberate choices in music, voiceover talent, onscreen talent, animated graphics, interviews, or scripted content that confirm with the messaging already in place. It is also necessary to keep the goal and reason for the video in mind; just having a video for the sake of having it is a disservice that can create a disconnect. But when done holistically, video will contribute to the overall image, story, and culture of a company.