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As marketing managers seek to keep their brands fresh and relevant, many are tempted to jump on the latest trends and fads. You know: online and major media advertising with new imagery... new slogans and taglines... new product packaging—all playing to the latest pop-cult phenomena, hot colors, and new vibes.

But is that really the solution? The short answer is "no."

If anything, jumping on the latest trends will have the opposite effect. Brands cannot and should not be all things to all people. Nor should they be diluted by constantly going after whatever is trendy at the expense of consistently reinforcing their core values and assets.

If brands are less relevant than they should be, then their core values, and the way they are aligned and projected—or not—should be examined and addressed.

Consumers respond to values they identify with more than they do passing trends. Especially if those values are culturally ingrained and have deep personal meaning for them as human beings.

Brands should have the ring of authenticity and conviction. They should possess and express the following:

  • A reason for being
  • A definitive point of view
  • A system of beliefs
  • Clearly defined values and assets

The unearthing of a brand's core values and truths must then be consistently acted upon in everything that companies communicate and in every decision that is made. There has to be complete alignment at every touch point so that the brand is consistently and faithfully portrayed to employees, business partners, stakeholders, and customers.

Cultural anthropology can play an important role in developing consumer connections by taking marketing to a more meaningful, more human level. Tying core brand essences to deeply held cultural meaning gives consumers "reason to believe" in them. By being firmly grounded in cultural values that really matter to the customer, brands can transcend competitors to become not only category leaders, but icons.

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Ted Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc. (www.designforceinc.com), a leading brand-design consultancy to consumer product companies (phone: 856-810-2277). Ted is also a regular contributor to the MarketingProfs blog, the Daily Fix.