The Era of Brand Vibe Is Upon us. But what Is It, and How Should Marketers Deploy It to Achieve the Greatest Impact?

In the dynamic world of branding, an interesting and potentially important new concept has emerged that deserves attention. Although it is still loosely defined, the era of “Brand Vibe” has arrived.

Brand Vibe has been variously explained as a cosmetic brand upgrade, but I would argue that, to be of any real value, Brand Vibe has to encompass the bold activation of a brand’s positioning, breathing new life into an organization or offering.

An effective Brand Vibe should be capable of reinvigorating a brand without changing its core idea. This involves a creative interpretation of how the brand’s essence can be expressed across channels. It’s about finding captivating ways to bring an organization’s fundamental story to life through elements such as tone of voice, design, user experience, employee engagement, and marketing activations.

Not all brand strategists will care to hear this (I’m reminded of the old adage that when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail), but there are times when the issue with a brand isn’t the underlying strategy — it’s how it’s executed.

In other words, Brand Vibe is not about changing the song; it’s about changing how it’s sung and played.

For example, BNY Mellon, the 240-year-old financial institution, recently leaned on Brand Vibe to help “modernize the perception of the company,” showing up in ways that are innovative and engaging while also being true to the enduring company purpose. From color palette, events, earned media and storytelling, to empowering communities and social impact, the organization continues to transform.

Another example is that of Novartis, the Swiss-based pharmaceutical company. Following the recent spinoff of Sandoz, Novartis has recast itself as a focused “medicines company.” To signal its new era, the company undertook a complete brand refresh.

As Michael Dula, our Chief Creative Officer, notes, “The rich ideas nested within the Novartis harp-inspired logo — which remains unchanged — allow the brand to endure with freshness even as the company boldly expands upon its mission of patient care. Time will tell if the brand revitalization is comprehensive enough to consider it a shift in brand vibe.”

Defining Brand Vibe

Brand Vibe is the embodiment of a brand’s personality and ethos in every interaction with audiences, be it employees, customers, or partners. It’s not just about what a brand looks like; it’s about how it feels, communicates, and engages.

Unpacking the elements of Brand Vibe further:

  • Tone of voice: The brand’s voice should clearly bring its positioning to life and be consistent across all platforms, reflecting its personality. Whether professional, provocative, or compassionate, the tone of voice sets the mood for customer interactions.
  • Messaging: Effective messaging aligns with and clearly signals the brand’s values and value proposition, customized for audiences and context, ensuring memorability and relevancy.
  • Visual expression: This goes beyond logos and color schemes. It includes the total aesthetic of the brand across all touch points, which should resonate with audiences and stand out in the market.
  • User experiences: How people interact with the brand, whether through a website, app, all-hands meetings, partnerships, or events, greatly impacts their perception and connection with the brand. These experiences must be selected strategically and executed brilliantly to deliver a vibe that inspires action.
  • Customer engagement: The ways in which a brand engages with its audience — be it through sales teams, social media, customer service, or community involvement — are critical components of its “vibe.”

Brand Vibe thus becomes a holistic manifestation of a brand’s essence across all touch points. By meticulously addressing each element of their “Brand Vibe,” organizations can achieve a renewed and captivating presence that resonates with audiences and results in more engaging and meaningful interactions.