The 007 things James Bond taught me about branding

Every established brand knows the pain of growing old. All the things that have served them so well in the past start to lose their lustre, becoming less and less effective by the day. But the prospect of an overhaul can be daunting. Here’s a few things the £13 billion Bond franchise has taught us about keeping a brand exciting.


001. First, find your new horizon.

Abraham Lincoln once said “The best way to predict your future is to create it”. With the introduction of every new Bond actor, comes a new era for the franchise. So first consideration should be given to what you are trying to build towards. Think about where you want to be, then support it with a plan of what you need to do to get there – not the other way around!

002. Don’t change. Evolve.

The man portraying Bond is significant, but would we consider the move from Sean Connery to Roger Moore, or Pierce Brosnan to Daniel Craig a change or evolution? 

When it comes to brands, change can be a scary word. Change can represent a departure from your brand’s direction to pursue another. On the other hand, evolution is about remaining true to your original vision and values, while continually adjusting and developing to support endurance and growth. In the case of 007, we’ve seen 24 films with six lead actors over more than 56 years. How long has it been since your brand last evolved?

003. Your brand is defined by what’s around it as much as it’s defined by itself.

Staying relevant to the world’s evolution should spur how your brand evolves. No matter what film you watch, Bond remains unmistakeably Bond, but notice how the suave and sophisticated 60’s were quickly replaced by the attitude-driven, entertaining 70’s? 

Fast-forward to Daniel Craig’s gritty, action-packed Casino Royale in 2006 as a response to the Jason Bourne reboot with Matt Damon in 2002 which re-established the spy genre for the modern era. A new era for Bond, influenced greatly by context. Remember, your brand doesn’t live in a vacuum – it’s defined by what is around it as much as it’s defined by itself.

004. Rediscover your authenticity.

Daniel Craig’s Bond rediscovered the rawness of Ian Fleming’s original 007 novel characterisation that had been forgotten by his predecessors. For brands, looking back to their roots is a great way of finding a way forward with authenticity.

005. Invest in your equities.

“Bond. James Bond.” From the mesmerising opening titles to the Aston Martin, gorgeous women and “Shaken, not stirred”, brand 007 boasts a load of signatures inseparable from the franchise. 

It didn’t happen overnight – in fact it’s something Bond has had to work hard at. These little trinkets of recognition and association have been carefully placed in people’s minds over decades. Religion and football teams are other great examples of ‘brands’ that invest in long-term equities.

006. Always think of your fans.

At the end of the day, your success will be defined by your fans and many brands would do well to be reminded of this. Your fans should be the reason that you do what you do. Brand Bond does this amazingly well with the way it launches its films and continually gives fans what they want while at the same time introducing them to something new, every time.

007. Never complete the story.

Bond has a formula that could see it continue for generations. With storytelling being at the heart of branding today, one of the most important lessons is to never complete your brands’ narrative. Always leave it open ended, because you will need to add the next chapter before you know it.

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