Keys to having a distinctive brand

Keys to having a distinctive brand

MAIN IMAGE: Yael Geffen, CEO Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

Heritage contributes profoundly and intrinsically to a brand’s core value but, much like respect, it is an elusive and hard-won asset that cannot be bought or easily acquired overnight; it can only be earned over time through careful nurturing, authenticity and sincerity.

For decades, strong heritage brands were able to retain their dominance relatively easily through their established reputations and by maintaining their service excellence status quo, but since the millennium it has become increasingly challenging to remain ahead of the rapidly advancing new breed of competitors.

However, Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, believes that traditional brands which become adept at balancing the fine line between authenticity and relevance in a fast-changing marketplace will have a decidedly lofty upper hand in the new order.

“While preserving brand continuity and product integrity is always a priority, resting on your laurels in an era defined by innovation and disruption is no longer an option and we have seen some of the older brands fall by the wayside in recent years.

“However, brands that have proactively adapted to the changing needs of the modern consumer have grown exponentially stronger, a perfect example being Sotheby’s which celebrated its 275th year with a ceremonious ringing of the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange this month.

“One only has to look at brands like Barclays (established in 1690), Colgate (1806) and Cadbury’s (1824) to understand the true value of heritage,” says Geffen.

Guidelines for building a distinctive brand

Although newer brands cannot realistically expect to create as strong a legacy without paying their dues over time, Geffen says that nowadays it is possible to establish credibility and brand loyalty in far less time than before the digital era.

“The key to establishing a distinctive brand is through communication which enables consumers to shape their perceptions based on a clear understanding of who you are and what you do.”

She offers the following guidelines for not only establishing credibility and paving the way to a strong heritage but also to remain relevant and ahead of the competition:

  • Record your history – take the time to keep a record of the time line, dates and important moments. In doing so, you’ll begin to see some common trends and identify a story that connects who you are now to who you were at the beginning;
  • Always keep the consumer at the heart of your brand – it will not only keep them on your side, but you will also gain invaluable insight into your market;
  • Endeavour to not only stay abreast of current market trends but to understand where they will lead and what the future holds in your industry – in other words, where to next?
  • Develop a reputation for accountability;
  • Stay focused on the goal;
  • Don’t be afraid to expand;
  • Never stop innovating – be bold, challenge the norms and innovate, innovate, innovate.

Geffen concludes: “During the last two decades, much has changed in the way we conduct business and the level of sophistication needed for a leading brand to maintain its presence in an ever-shifting landscape, but the principles remain the same. An authentic brand that continues to put its customers first and uphold the best service delivery possible will always have a strong place in the market.”


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