Building a great brand today requires a delicate balance: You have to be consistent while also constantly being new and different.
Consistency is the foundation of branding. A strong brand should stand for something and repeatedly reinforce that message. Apple, BMW, Rolex, Emirates and Wal-Mart all have very distinct associations. BMW is performance; Wal-Mart is value. The brands have reinforced this message for many years.
At the same time, you have to do new things to stand out. It is getting harder and harder to reach consumers with a marketing message. People are very skilled at avoiding ads. If you run the same spot over and over, people become bored. They will avoid it. The only hope is to create marketing efforts that are so fresh and interesting that people want to pay attention.
This is not an easy balance. In an effort to be new and interesting, you risk losing track of the brand. How can you be different and the same all at once?
This is what makes Geico, my Brand of the Month, so extraordinary.
Geico’s core positioning is clear. It is a low-cost insurance provider. The reason to believe: “Fifteen minutes could save you 15% or more.” It is a pretty meaningless line if you think about it. Geico could save you some money, but there are no guarantees. Every other insurance company could make the same claim, but no matter—the line resonates and Geico owns it.
Geico constantly reinforces this line. The company is one of the largest advertisers in the United States, and the message is always the same. The creative changes, though. One day Geico runs ads with a lizard, and the next day it runs ads with a caveman. Then animated money. Then a sloth. This variety keeps the market effort fresh and interesting. You can watch some of my favorites Geico spots below.
The impact is clear. Geico has become a dominant player with a very tight positioning. It is an amazing brand.
Last weekend, my sister-in-law bought a new car. She asked me about insurance companies, and before I could recommend State Farm, my son Charlie jumped in and pointed out, “In fifteen minutes, you could save 15% or more at Geico.” She went to the Geico website.
Geico demonstrates how to build a brand: have a clear positioning, reinforce the message over time, and keep the marketing fresh and interesting.