Last month, a pioneer in branding passed away. In the 1960s, Wally Olins (co-founder of Wolff Olins) introduced ‘brand thinking’ as we know it today. Before Ollins, companies concentrated on creating brands and campaigns only for specific products and markets, rather than defining an identity for themselves as a whole. He revolutionized the idea that branding isn’t just for companies and products, it extends to anything from countries to cities to people.

Though his ideas are around fifty years old, they are just as relevant for emerging organizations.

 1.    The Business Case for Branding

If you nurture the collective identity of your organization, it will provide you with a unique selling proposition in a crowded market, and an emotional connection to your customers. Consumers are not just looking for utility in the things they buy. They are also looking for meaning.

 2.    Everything has to be “on brand”

Brand-building is not just an add-on which you can buy when you want to launch a new product. It is an integral part of your long-term strategy that guides the sort of products you roll out, the sort of people you recruit…even the look of your delivery vans.

Young organizations- you must keep in mind that building your brand identity is not optional- it’s an imperative. Being “on brand” is more than making sure that the logos and colors are consistent on all your collateral. Having a solid foundation that includes your vision and values will guide every decision you make as you grow.

Wally Olins’ groundbreaking concepts make up the founding principles of Marketing.Strategy.Dharma. The state of brands as we know it would not exist if it were not for his then-radicalism. We salute him for his achievements, for which we as MSD would not be here without.

To read a full obituary of Wally Olins from the Economist, click here.