Dynamic Branding: Key to Brand Success

Tim Leon

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*PS. Below you will find an auto-generated transcript of this episode.

Arek Dvornechuck: Hey what's up branding experts? Arek here and welcome to On Branding Podcast. Today my guest is Tim Leon, and Tim is the founder and the CEO of Geile/Leon, a digital marketing agency that helps businesses grow their online presence and reach their true potential. So Tim has over 30 years of experience in branding and other sub-disciplines like web design, SEO, social media and content marketing. He's also a speaker, author, and podcast host who shares insights and expertise on digital marketing trends and best practices.

Hello Tim. Thanks for joining us today.

Tim Leon: Nice to see you, Arek.

Arek Dvornechuck: Thank you so much. So today we are going to talk about dynamic branding. Can you explain to our audience what your definition of dynamic branding is?

Tim Leon: Sure. I think for me the simple definition is it's a brand that continues to evolve as market conditions change, as customer preferences and behaviors change, but it's a brand that really is connected to what's going on in the market and with their customer and makes those changes as needed throughout the life cycle of the brand.

Arek Dvornechuck: So basically as opposed to, you could say static branding, dynamic branding is a strategy that involves a brand being more flexible and adaptive to changes in the market. 

Tim Leon: That's correct. That is a great way to put it.

Arek Dvornechuck: Yeah, unlike static branding, we all understand branding, about being consistent and repetitive with our message and so on. It's more of, about creating that balance, between what are the constants and what are the variables? Okay. So that brings us closer to talking about brand relevance, right?

You have a lot of experience working with different businesses in different industries. Can you just talk to us about what are some of the triggering events to figure out when our brand perhaps lost its relevance or it's losing its relevance and we should, regain the relevance by adjusting the messaging positioning and so on.

Tim Leon: Absolutely. We've identified a number of trigger points over the last few years. One of the big ones, which I'm sure you can relate to because you hear it a lot in marketing, is when a company is either acquired or part of a merger or acquisition, you get a new leadership. That may have a new vision and direction for the company. And if your brand doesn't align with that it can fall, out of that, what I would call a relevance gap. 

Maybe you're entering a brand's entering a new market segment where they're not well known or a new geography. Maybe it's a domestic brand that's going global. And I think, relevance has to be considered there. Am I going to be relevant as a global brand? I am domestic, but what are those implications when I go global? Consumer preference and behaviors have changed. This as well as I do, man, since the pandemic, consumers are different. Buying behaviors changed. Has your brand adapted to that, and are you meeting consumers where they need to go?

So those are some of the things that we see a lot in terms of brands falling out of relevance. One of the simplest ones is, you haven't done anything to update your brand, your packaging, maybe your storefront. And all of a sudden you just look outdated and you lose relevance when keeping up with the times.

Arek Dvornechuck: So these are some of the triggers. These are very on point and things that we should constantly, review, and evaluate so that we can adapt and change. And perhaps change our positioning messaging, do a facelift, as you mentioned, maybe change our packaging or our visual branding and so on.

One of the things that brands must do these days is to show empathy, right? And listen to the audience. As you mentioned, your customers' preferences can change. And during the pandemic, we saw an increase in that. 

Can you just talk to us about that? How can brands show empathy? How can brands stay more relevant? Perhaps, by running surveys, doing interviews with customers, and so on. Can you give us some guidance on that?

Tim Leon: Absolutely. And you kind of hit the nail on the head. It's all about how you are going to stay close to the customer and where they are and meet them where they are, you bring up research. Research can be expensive. And a lot of marketers like, I don't want to do a big research study. It doesn't have to be. Maybe it's what I call conversational research, you pick a handful of customers, prospective customers, maybe it's some of the employees in the field and talk to them about the brand and are you still resonating with customers. Why or why not? And are other competitors getting a share of your market? And why is that? So I don't think it has to be this formal research study. 

The other thing we see a lot, which is simple to do is brands starting a community. A brand community of loyal customers. Think about Harley and the Harley owner group. Those are enthusiasts who love talking about your brand. So if you can get a community and participate in that community, I think you can find a lot of really valuable insights in terms of what it is that you need to do to close that relevance gap.

Arek Dvornechuck: That's a great example, by the way. I'm a Harley rider, so I can definitely relate to that. And I see that. And sometimes I go to those meetups and stuff like that. And it definitely works because, building a community around the brand, then you can drive sales, more awareness towards the brand and stuff like that. That definitely works. 

Can we now talk about change in the customers themselves, and how they think of brands, because back in the day, it was like brands had all the power, but now customers are more informed because we have access to the internet, we have access to all these reviews and all this information. We can see the shift in customers' mindset. So they're more informed and more cautious these days. Who they want to know, support what brands they want to buy and engage with. So can we talk about that? What are some of the interesting things you perhaps noticed? Maybe brands you work with or famous brands that we can all relate to.

Tim Leon: Sure. I'll talk about a particular brand, but I'll also talk a little bit about what you had asked about. What's changed with consumers. As you said, the internet made us all informed consumers, but I think where it's really gone the last three or four years is they're not just informed, they're socially aware and socially conscious consumers, their expectations of what they want from brands is much higher than it used to be. And I think as marketers, we need to be sensitive to that. It's not enough today to go, I'm going to do marketing, I want to generate leads and generate customers. You want to do marketing to generate followers, to generate influencers. You want people to have a positive feeling about your brand. One of the brands that I think has done a nice job is the Dove brand and you remember Dove beauty bars. Back in the fifties, this was a legendary brand that in the early two thousands really jumped into this beauty category, but they redefined it and redefined what beauty is with the “real beauty” campaign.

And the whole objective was to invite more women into being comfortable with who they are and their body image, which was really what was going on at the time. And I think Dove has done a wonderful job. They're still known as the moisturizing bar of soap, but they're known for so much more of really, again, meeting women where they were and letting them feel good about who they are. And they've stayed true to that for 20 years since then. To me, there's an empathetic brand who really got into the minds and hearts of what women wanted from a beauty brand and redefined what beauty is, not just for their customer, I think for the world. So I can't say enough about it, there's a brand that I think changed the way we see beauty.

Arek Dvornechuck: No, it's a great example. So Dove and the beauty campaign. That's definitely one of the most iconic examples when it comes to that and branding. 

Do you have any other examples or maybe can you talk about the brands you work with? It doesn't have to be a famous brand, maybe some local brands or brands that you work with and can you talk about some of the challenges they face perhaps? You know as it relates to what we've talked about earlier So those triggers, maybe they go through changes, the customer mindset changes or they realize that they're not relevant for any reason. Maybe they look outdated as you mentioned, or maybe they fall behind the competitors and so on.

Tim Leon: Absolutely. One of the longest standing brands that we've worked on is a company here in St. Louis called Metro Imaging. They're diagnostic imaging, so you go there for CT scans and X-rays. They're competing in a very crowded category with other independent labs, and more importantly, with hospitals who have their own, in house diagnostic imaging. And we've had this client, again, for a number of years. And what we really found from consumers is when you go to get your imaging exam, What you really want to know is, am I okay? You want some peace of mind, right? I'm getting an x-ray, I'm getting a CT scan. They had, we didn't create this form, but they basically offered on site results, meaning before you left from your exam, you could get preliminary findings from the radiologist. And what this was, what we were selling is peace of mind. We weren't selling the best, latest CT scan or what we were selling was, when you come to Metro Imaging, it's a great experience. And when you leave, you have an idea of what's going on with your particular situation. And that something, we've stayed true to that brand. It's changed in terms of creativity, but we always come back to the peace of mind and not just the peace of mind of knowing, but the peace of mind of knowing what it's going to cost. Before you have the exam, you're going to be out of pocket. And I think the peace of mind in healthcare and being able to offer that has been really powerful for this particular brand.

Arek Dvornechuck: No, that's a great observation. Definitely. And yeah, so that's a great observation here. So again, we focus on the customer or consumer and what they really, what they are concerned about, what they want from the brand and as you mentioned, in that case, it was peace of mind. So it was crucial to be able to offer them the results. Even as you mentioned If it's just something, initial, preliminary result, but still, they walk away with something, and with that piece of mind. 

Tim Leon: Absolutely.

Arek Dvornechuck: Yeah, that's a great example. And other examples, or other challenges or problems that brands or businesses in general come to you with as it relates to dynamic branding and staying relevant and how you deal with those challenges and problems.

Tim Leon: Yes. Can I bring up a brand that I think it's top of mind with all of us right now? And that's Twitter.

Arek Dvornechuck: Sure.

Tim Leon: So you mentioned something when you do a rebrand, my belief is you're doing it in response to something your customer needs or wants or desires, and I think I questioned a little bit of the Twitter change to this new X name, was that really a response to the consumer wanting that, or was that the response from the new owner of Twitter, basically imposing kind of their personality and reputation on this company. And I think it's yet to be seen the fallout from that. I'm not here to tell you whether it's good or bad, but I question whether that was really Twitter, if you look at that brand and what it was built, it was warm, welcoming. Here's where I go to get up to date news. See, this real grassroots. Up to date news platform. Now, it's all of a sudden subscription services, they're limiting the number of posts. They're doing things where I feel like it's not as inviting and as open, least perceived as inviting, as open a platform as it was before the name change. And I just question, who was it done for? Was it really in the best interest of the customer?

Arek Dvornechuck: That's a great example, by the way. And yeah, I don't understand this either from the branding perspective. It doesn't really make much sense as you mentioned. But because first of all, Twitter has created this brand equity over the years, right? And the name itself and the logo and all the whole branding with the blue, right? With that bird, tweet, tweeting is like a verb we use now. I don't really understand. I think, answering your question, I think is the second. It's just the vision of the founder, of Elon Musk, who perhaps got this bigger vision created. I think there is in China, there is a competitor, there is some kind of an app that kind of integrates all those things together, messaging and payments and so on, and he wants to recreate that. In the U. S. market and perhaps beyond and that's where this change comes from, but from a branding perspective, I agree, it doesn't really make much sense. It's not really customer based. It's rather about the founder and his vision. 

Tim Leon: Absolutely. And I just questioned whether, does it make the brand more relevant with this direction? Look, I go every morning to get coffee at Dunkin Donuts, which changed their name to Dunkin right? Now they had a great reason for doing that. They're trying to expand their market. They don't want to just be donuts because donuts aren't the healthiest choice for breakfast. So they did a really nice job with a slight name change to Dunkin. And now they're offering more breakfast items, lattes, cappuccinos, breakfast sandwiches, health bars, but there's a company that understood the consumer wanted more choices. They didn't necessarily want you to leave your doughnuts, but they wanted some healthier alternatives. They wanted a variety of hot drinks. And I thought that was a great rebrand. Consumers don't like change, for the most part. So when you do a rebrand to try to regain relevance, you really have to do it in a way that consumers can feel good, comfortable about.

Arek Dvornechuck: Right. It's a great example as well. And I can relate to that as well, but yeah, it's probably a good example of a rebrand. And as you mentioned, yeah, any kind of a rebrand and name change, logo change. It might be disturbing too, especially if it's like a big established brand like Dunkin Donuts, but I think, I would agree with you that they've done this probably the right way. So it's a great example versus Twitter, and changing to X I'm not sure about that. I don't want to like bash and talk badly about that because I don't really know how it's going to work in the future, but, just looking at the change now and from a perspective of someone who's working with brands and it doesn't really make much sense. So these are two great examples. Thank you for bringing those up. Twitter and name change to X and rebrand versus Dunkin Donuts. Shortening the name from Dunkin Donuts to Dunkin and being more open. It's more customer focused. 

Great conversation. Thank you for coming on the show.

Now, your website is geileon.com. So we're going to link to your website for you guys to check it out. So Tim works with businesses offering branding services and all those sub-disciplines as I mentioned, web design, SEO, social media, and content marketing. Any other way you want our listeners to get in touch with you? Are you active on social media? 

Tim Leon: Sure. I would suggest my LinkedIn page Tim Leon, Geile/Leon Marketing Communications. So my LinkedIn is a great way to get a hold of me. If you have any questions, I'm also open to emailing me. Tim at G E I L E O N. 

Arek Dvornechuck: So just to sum up, we're going to link to Tim's website, geileon.com. You can find and connect with Tim on LinkedIn. We're going to link to his LinkedIn profile as well. And that's it for today. Thank you for coming on the show. I appreciate that.

Tim Leon: I appreciate it too. Thank you so much.

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