Fresh Shine or Wishful Thinking?

How aspirational should your brand be?

Diana Lillicrap 3.23.2021

Clients often ask us if their brand should reflect who they are today or if it can be a bit aspirational, reflecting who they think they will be soon? The answer is both.

Truth vs. fiction

When it comes to branding, authenticity is important. Being true to who you are is what makes you unique. The personality of a brand is a lot like that of a human. No one else can be you and trying to be something you aren’t will feel awkward and off to everyone around you. Plus, consumers are smart. If your brand says one thing, but acts in a totally different way, you’ll diminish your trust, which is a tough thing to build.

Evolution is good

That being said, just like people, brands are oftentimes a work in progress—striving to be better at what we do or more useful to those we care about. Smart brands are always pushing themselves to move ahead. Our world is changing and your brand needs to keep pace and adjust to remain relevant and needed. That positive progression is part of the personality of your brand too. If you have a brand that is making headway in a certain direction, it’s ok to include that attribute as part of your overall brand personality. Just don’t make it the only one.

Take it slow

For instance, if you’ve historically not been very modern in your offerings but recently you’ve made some changes that encourage fresh thinking companywide, adding an element of innovation to your marketing approach might be a good shift to give your brand a fresh shine. Just don’t push it too hard, or too fast. Going from ‘tried and true’ to ‘all new’ would be a bit of a disconnect. Think of that new aspirational attribute as one ingredient in a complex recipe. It’s important, but don’t overdo it. Introduce it slowly and with intent, especially if you want to shift existing thinking about your brand. For example, maybe your language just starts to feel a bit more innovative and fresher. Maybe the imagery you use has a fresh feel that shows you are a bit more progressive and modern. If the change is gradual, it will be more believable because it will build over time.

Keep it real

Your corporate actions should also build over time to align with that new aspirational element of your brand. If you start saying your brand is modern, then you need to prove it with your products, your services, and your employees’ attitudes. The real proof happens in the actions, not in the marketing. Being a little aspirational with your brand is good, as long as whatever you end up with is something you can deliver.

Did this spark an idea? Let's talk!

5 Signals That Your Brand is Ready for Growth

How to know when it’s time for the next level.

Care and Maintenance of Your Brand

The brand launch was months or years ago. How do you keep the momentum going?

What Your Brand Isn’t

Thinking about what you are not can help you figure out what you are.


3608 Aldrich Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55409


© 2022 5 by 5 Design. All rights reserved.