Brand: History Lesson 2

Now that we know where the term ‘brand’ comes from (see Lesson 1), it’s time to look at the more recent history of brand in this post, ‘Brand: History Lesson 2’.

Standing out
With the 1960’s bringing the rise of new media, including TV and video, came the increased need to stand out. Competition was no longer just between companies but also between countries and cities fighting for the attention of tourists. In 1969, Canada became the first nation to have their own symbol and logo. This then started a trend in cities branding themselves.

This importance of having a logo extended to all organisations, whatever size, which led to graphic design and branding becoming a part of everyday business. Everything from annual reports to the company’s overall ‘image’ had to be recognisable.

However, just having a strong visual identity wasn’t enough. Businesses had to focus a lot on the service they were offering to make it the best it could be.


McDonald’s shows how it’s done
McDonald’s is a great example of a company who really pushed themselves beyond visuals to succeed in becoming a strong brand, especially in the late 1970s.

A strong work ethic was something which all McDonald’s employees had to possess. All new members were trained up by watching videos about McDonald’s policies and practices. The new employees would then be given a trainer to help them learn the proper procedures, as consistency was key.

Quality customer service was a very important aspect in McDonald’s establishing themselves. It was essential to keep customers happy. There was also an emphasis on cleanliness. If the employees had any spare time they would be expected to clean.

I think one of the ways where McDonald’s were able to do so well was with ‘suggestive selling’, which can still be seen today. This is where you would be asked if you wanted a drink or dessert with your order or if you wanted to “supersize that” – they were always trying to get more from their customers.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 15.13.08To encourage staff to work to the best of their ability, McDonald’s hosted an All Stars competition. Employees could compete to win in their category nationally. They would win a trophy, shares in McDonald’s and a cash prize, amongst other things.

The fact that they also had strong visuals from such an early stage including a memorable mascot, Ronald McDonald, and a very identifiable ‘M’ as their logo (which was referred to by many as ‘The Golden Arches’), helped towards them building such a strong brand which is still one of the biggest brands around today.

To be a strong brand you had to focus on the overall message your brand was portraying just like McDonald’s did.


Surviving as a strong brand
With communication becoming two-way between consumers and companies, businesses were forced to listen to their customers and develop themselves based on feedback from their audience. Being an ethical brand was also brought to light and brands such as Nike were scrutinised for their working conditions. It takes a strong brand to be able to bounce back from bad press like this and Nike has managed to remain a very powerful brand.

But it doesn’t end there. With the rise of new media and technology, businesses had to keep up and create a presence online. With nearly 1 billion websites online right now, it seems almost impossible to show up on the first page of a Google search. Companies have started to invest in digital marketing to give their brand a chance of surviving and to ensure that their audience stays loyal to their brand. I will be exploring this further in my next post, ‘Brand: History Lesson 3’.