Pigeon Problems: How To Contextualise Your Brand

  • December 13, 2023
  • Reading time: 3 min
A pigeon

When it comes to brand contextualisation, there is a perennial debate. Namely, should you bother? Should you anchor it to a situation, and align its messaging with a particular context? Or should you let it fly, free and fast? Let it soar?

A soaring pigeon

After all, brand contextualisation often goes wrong. Giving context can pigeonhole your brand and hamper growth. But at the same time, being too broad might make your brand feel weak or diluted.

If you go specific and small, you might resonate strongly with a niche audience. By underlining your unique qualities, your brand might stand out in a crowded market, and you may even be able to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Prospects may even trust you more for your specialised knowledge – and flock to you as a result.

A flock of pigeons

However, you may run the risk of inflexibility. After all, just as birds migrate and eggs hatch – markets evolve and consumer preferences shift. A too-specific brand may find it challenging to adapt to change.

Take the example of Terry’s Chocolate Orange. There is no scientific reason why we can’t eat these sickly sweet treats in Spring or Summer. And yet no one does. Their context is Christmas.

The risk of pigeonholes

On the other hand, if you go broad and big, you might appeal to a larger audience and enjoy a higher brand recognition. And you might be able to flex to changing market trends and have room to explore new opportunities.

But equally, if you’re present in too many contexts, your brand may become less distinctive, making it challenging for consumers to associate specific characteristics with the brand.

Take another chocolate-based example: Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. When is the right time to eat this chocolate bar? There is no right time to eat this chocolate bar. There is also no wrong time. What does this chocolate bar stand for? It’s unclear. Can it adapt to other contexts, such as Christmas? Probably.

A balancing act

The answer is likely a balancing act: being specific enough to establish a clear identity and connect with a target audience. But avoiding being overly specific to allow room for growth and diversification.

We found the sweet spot with EDB, a US-based database software business that’s one of the largest contributors to the open-source database PostgreSQL. EDB asked us to create a brand to match its purpose and its market. We responded by bestowing them with a new logo based on the Postgres elephant, as well as a fresh tagline, tone of voice and manifesto. A balanced yet strong context for the business.

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