Should your brand be iconic or trendy? Can there be a balance?

We all want to craft an icon brand that will survive the test of time but as the world around us evolves we’re also tempted to hope on new trends. Is it possible to explore fads while maintaining a coherent brand identity? A truly timeless brand emphasizes its core values and essence of the brand, building a strong and enduring identity. It creates trust with its consumers and unites them in their shared values. A brand that is built to capitalize on fleeting trends will be short-lived and share the same fate as those fads. Trends can and have helped brands reach meteoric heights but one should not hang their hat on something as momentary as a shooting star. With that said is there a balance one can strike between the iconic and the chic?

So, You’re Already Iconic?

There is no more interesting a case study than Stanley at the moment. A singularly focused brand that has been as indestructible as their flag ship products. They’ve been around since 1913 and have a long history of providing reliable bottles to workers and adventurers. While they have carved out a comfortable corner of the market with a strong group of devotees that love their practical and well-built thermos, they were by not turning heads or fueling shopping sprees like they are at this peculiar point in time. This is often what happens to many icon brands, they become part of the fabric of our reality. Like the air we breath we don’t even notice them anymore. When was the last time you were excited to grab a Kleenex?

Is It Time to Rock the Boat?

Brands can evolve overtime, adapting to shifting worldviews and customer behaviour but these are seldom extreme pivots into uncharted waters. No one wants to kill the goose that laid the golden egg or in some other cases it’s a little blue bird that gets the “X”. Shifting your brand to capture a new audience can be a risky move especially if it requires you to toss out much of your brand’s existing equity. While you’re attempting to court new customers, you could be unknowingly alienating your most hardened fans. Staying relevant while also remaining iconic and timeless can seem like opposing goals sometimes but is there a balance one can strike between the two?

Bringing Balance to Your Brand

Once you have established your identity this gives you clarity on what trends make sense for you to integrate. Never abandon your core value as you attempt to remain relevant and take advantage of emerging opportunities in the market. We can see this with Stanley’s sudden explosive social media takeover. While the move to capitalize on a female driven demographic seems out of left field for a brand that primarily focused on blue-collared working men. They’re principal offering has remained the same. They may be spitting out new designs like they’re making the next installment of a Pokemon game, they’re still providing the same quality and value that made them iconic.

All Good Things Must End?

We don’t know if this cup collecting frenzy will peter out like Beanie Babies or become its own sub-culture like Nike sneaker-heads. With certain trends it’s only the perceived value that drives up the demand and once that’s gone there’s no inherent value that can sustain the brand or products. The interesting thing about Stanley is that their flag ship products have very much remained the same and if they ever cease being cool their most dedicated fans will still be there because they haven’t abandoned their quality or practicality rather, they’ve simply expanded their products aesthetically.

The key to finding balance is to know where your center is. Having a strong identity and sense for your core audience is fundamental to recognizing which trends to leverage. Every move you make should be building upon and strengthening your foundational feats. Stanley may be the most recent example of an explosively successful pivot but other brands have evolved their products in ways that have also maintained their iconic essence while creating buzz. For example, Oreo with its fantastical and sometimes odd limited-edition flavours. Or Crocs with its many celebrity/designer collabs. 

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