Apple, chocolate cream, and pecan… they’re great as a slice, but even better as a whole pie. Much like a good key lime, a great brand considers its brand as a whole, not piece by piece. Holistic brands outshine and outperform fragmented brands (brands with missing slices) with more loyal and happy customers and greater revenue returns.

While all brands establish relationships with their customers, holistic brands develop relationships that go deeper - the kinds that create affinity, have shared values, and produce brand advocates. And, when it comes to branding, the ultimate goal is to achieve cult-like followings by providing a delectable experience.

Whole-Brand Thinking and Why it Works

Holistic brands deliver holistic experiences to their target audience, which can only be done when brands prioritize four things: adhering to their brand DNA, putting people first, delivering a total brand experience, and maintaining a consistent brand expression.

Slice One: Brand DNA

Whole brands embed strategy into their brand DNA, starting with the right ingredients before they take their brand to market. A brand’s DNA is the core idea that guides a brand’s expression; its own unique recipe. Core beliefs, values, and principles are a good place to start, and add a dash of the current market landscape, existing brand equity, and a brand’s vision for the future. Brand DNA should be the filter through which a brand acts.

A whole brand consists of three ingredients:

  1. Exist as a living brand: operate as a brand-first organization
  2. Have a north star: the entire brand should be connected by a single core idea
  3. Make sure actions match words: your purpose should guide your actions

Slice Two: People First

A whole brand is a human-centric brand, meaning it can emotionally connect with people by adding value and sharing values, whether that brand is B2B or B2C. Ultimately, a whole-thinking brand resonates with people to the extent that it creates a strong brand preference beyond rational thought. Would you rather get your morning coffee for $1.50 at the gas station or for $7 at Starbucks?

The human-centric brand matters because it:

  • helps consumers make purchasing decisions
  • demands a premium price in exchange for value and trust
  • creates resilience during down times
  • creates fans and generates loyalty, both internally and externally 

Many brands are so focused on their consumer audience that they overlook their internal audience. Your brand book should address your internal audiences as comprehensively as your external consumer audiences. That’s a whole-thinking brand. 

Slice Three: The Total Brand Experience

Whole brands deliver a consistent experience to their internal and external audiences, creating a total brand experience at every touchpoint. The total brand experience is delivered when a brand:

  • understands their advantages over their competitors 
  • has a clearly defined brand position
  • is consistent
  • knows who their audience is
  • creates content that resonates with their audience 
  • delivers content in channels that matter the most to their audience
  • tracks, measures, and evolves based on results

Slice Four: Consistent Brand Expression

Whole brands speak to their audience in a common language rooted firmly in consumer insight and focused on business outcomes. Whole brands aren’t mysterious, never leave you wondering, and ensure every person’s experience is the same at every touchpoint. 

Consistency begins at the strategy phase, long before a brand creates a billboard, posts on social media, or produces a TV spot. Any brand can advertise, but brands differentiate themselves through strategy, not execution. Strategy is identifying what message a brand wants to deliver and finding the right way to deliver that message. Good strategy, when executed is:

  • easily identifiable: it’s clear who the message is coming from
  • purposeful: it’s clear what the brand stands for
  • experiential: audiences experience the brand as a whole
  • emotional: connect with the audience on an emotional level

Holistic Brands Make Customers Want to Grab a Fork and Dig In

When your brand is built as a whole, success is created through connections and credibility, resulting in loyal, life-long customers. Holistic brands focus on using the right ingredients and supplying their customers with experiences so great, they just can’t help but come back for more.

Want to see a whole brand in action? See how Station Casinos rebranded its Wildfire location to create a consistent experience for its customers.