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Making a lasting impression: The importance of brand legacy for your MENA-based business

Any brand that lasts, whether it’s beyond the next quarter or the next decade, is constantly working towards the creation of a legacy.

What is brand awareness?

Brand awareness is a fairly simple concept. It’s the answer to the question ‘Is the general public aware that your brand exists… and more importantly, why should they care?’

It’s the difference between languishing in the cobwebbed shadows of commercial obscurity, and attracting frothing hordes of eager new customers, elbowing each other out of the way to try out that one brand they keep hearing about (or seeing on Instagram) for themselves.

Brand perception is similarly straightforward. How positive or negative is the public’s impression of your brand? Do they hate you? Do they love you? Is your brand a mustachioed vaudeville villain looking to make a quick buck at the expense of gullible buyers, or a caped crusader, swooping in to rescue your customers from the tepid horror of your mediocre competition?

And it’s a question easily answered through snap polls and surveys, data analysis, and the careful scouring of any mentions of your brand in the press. If you can’t afford a market research firm to do a basic brand audit, using an intern would be a fair compromise.

When brands run out of juice
Perception of your brand can flip as quickly and as easily as a coin in the hands of a nimble magician. Take, for example, the cautionary tale of Juicero, a once-beloved purveyor of mashed organic greens to fervently healthy techies that was forced to ignominiously shut its doors following the not-entirely-shocking revelation that its $400 (originally $699) juice press wasn’t worth the cost. It turned out that a pair of average human hands could squeeze liquid vegetable goodness out of Juicero’s Produce Packs with the same speed and efficiency as the much-touted Juicero Press device. The terrifying speed at which Juicero lost its once-luminous potential is a vivid illustration of the fragility of brand perception.

 Juicero shuttered its doors on 1 September 2017. This video shows you how the 16-month old Silicon Valley start-up ran out of juice. 

The relationship between a brand and its consumers should be rock-solid if your Middle East-based business is to have any shot at survival – or at longevity.

Brand Legacy: The Virgin Megastore Example
Which brings us to brand legacy. Any brand that lasts, whether it’s beyond the next quarter or the next decade, is constantly working towards the creation of a legacy. Every new logo iteration, website update, marketing campaign and press event becomes part of your brand’s history. Telling the story of “how we began” is a perennial favourite among businesses of every size and stripe, and it’s usually in the form of a timeline, illustrating key moments between the creation of the business and the ever-changing present day.

Think about Virgin Megastore. It’s been around for over 40 years. It was originally a ‘record shop’ on London’s Oxford Street. As current President of Virgin Megastore, Nisreen Shocair admits, these days many kids consuming music don’t even know what a ‘record’ is!

So how did Virgin Megastore shed the label of “the record store” while still harnessing its brand power (or legacy) – the iconic shops on Oxford Street and Times Square and the launches of artists (Mike Oldfield, The Culture Club, Janet Jackson) who were signed to its affiliated record label, Virgin Records – to stay relevant?

As Shocair clarifies, the legacy of the brand was ‘entertainment’. The record store was where people went to stomp their feet, wave their hands and do the boogie-woogie. People got down at Virgin Megastore, and that needed to stay constant.

“Young people are thinking differently, they’re saying, I’m going to go to a store because I really love it and it makes me feel good and then while I’m there I’m going to see what else they have and maybe they’re going to recommend things for me.” Virgin Megastore was able to identify what the legacy of the brand was at its core (entertainment) and link that to the experience sought by today’s young customer (feeling good).

Too often, a brand legacy is an organic creation – the result of a gradual buildup of brand history. It incorporates brand awareness, engagement and perception, but is not necessarily shaped by them. Legacy is allowed to be an afterthought, rather than a point of proactive focus – and that’s where so many brands, including homegrown brands right here in the UAE, in Saudi Arabia, or the Middle East more generally, get it wrong.

Each step your Middle East-based brand takes towards expanding its consumer base, streamlining its services or updating its look and feel should be part of a deliberate, well-planned process designed to create a lasting brand legacy.

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That’s how Twitter has done it. It’s multiple logo redesigns in its relatively short lifespan of a decade show how a core element of its brand’s identity – its logo – is being updated to stay relevant and to clarify its identity and what ought to be the user experience. From the iconic ‘t’ to the upward-facing bird, Twitter’s logo today communicates optimism and freedom (how you as a user are meant to feel in engaging with the brand) and speed and ease (your experience during the actual use of the platform).

The Bottom Line
In summary, then, to create a brand legacy ought to be well thought-out. It comes about through:
- Actively sketching your history for the consumer
- Growing consumers (by identifying what makes your brand tick with them)
- Streamlining your services, and
- Updating your look.

When you create brand legacy by doing the above, you’re continuously adding 'value'. You enable your brand to stay relevant and likable, and in the long-term, you get your customers to care. In sum, you write history.

Look forward to more valuable insights on building a brand strategy for your UAE or MENA-based brand. Follow our blog to get the updates