Branding expert Ken Cato is the man that some major companies turn to for help with overhauling their branding. His clients include Taiwan’s BenQ, Germany’s Siemens, Australia’s Commonwealth Bank and most recently, Dubai World Central, the world’s largest planned airport. He believes that building iconic brands require companies to dare to be different and have a clear idea of their corporate identity. He positioned Wellington Airport.
Australian branding and design guru Ken Cato is known for his deep-seated fondness for black-and-white monochrome minimalism. Yet he has a less than black-and-white approach to helping his clients build their own brands, advocating a focus on defining the objectives and being open-minded in achieving them.
To build brand equity effectively, companies need to know what they want to communicate. Consistency in brand communication is also vital as it’s senseless for companies to have different messages for different audiences when information is readily available online. Moreover, the delineation between audiences is blurring as people are wearing ‘multiple hats’ these days, Cato says. By that he means that a company’s customers can also be its employees, shareholders or its critics.
“It’s the consistency of those messages that builds a brand in people’s minds. So we better be pretty careful what we’re saying is consistent, knowing that everybody’s got access to all the information.”
While Cato advocates the importance of having distinctive differences in branding, he acknowledges that his recent ‘Wild at Heart’ campaign for New Zealand’s Wellington Airport was based on the city’s reputation for being the ‘Windy City.’
But shouldn’t he have steered away from the obvious to find other branding angles?
“If you’ve got a foundation of things that people know or language that people know, you’ve already got a start. There’s already an affinity,” he replies.
“Anybody that’s been to Wellington knows that the wind blows like heck down there and so you don’t get surprised when you talk about the wind and Wellington in the same breath,”
“The thing that is unusual is being able to look at it, if you like, almost poke fun at yourself and to go ‘if that’s what we’re known for, how do we bring that to life?’”
Indeed, the use of the wind as a ‘base language’ is central to the campaign’s expression of the wind’s ‘different personalities’ of fun, freedom, and celebration, Cato says.
“So while it’s got those personality characteristics, if they are put together in the right situations, you have an even chance of delivering all sorts of messages.”