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Sir John Hegarty: 'why marketers should look to the Church and James Bond as great brand examples'

When it comes to examples of great brands it is usually the likes of Coca-Cola or Nike that crop up in conversation, however marketers would do well to look towards the Church for inspiration, which was the “first great global brand,” according to Sir John Hegarty.

The creative director and founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) said that when thinking about a good example of a well-built brand the industry should immediately pick the Church.

“It has the greatest logo: it could have been a fish or a carpenter’s plane but no they went for a cross,” he said. “If you think about it what a great brand, they were through the line definitely, they branded the churches with the sign of the cross, [which was] absolute genius,” he said. “They diversified into christenings, weddings, funerals, [which is] brand extension and fundamentally important and of course they went global… the first great global brand. And also how did they get people to think about this brand? They got the greatest artists, musicians to work for them.”

Hegarty added that the Church was also selling belief, something which has resonance with modern brands because “so much of what we sell today you can’t see”.

“I’ve worked with Vodafone and various telecom brands and they sell vibrating air, you can’t see it. So when you want to think about brand thinking or an example go straight to the Church. 2000 years later it’s still going and not a lot of brands can say that.”

Hegarty also stressed the need for brands to remain consistent but to constantly keep refreshing themselves as society changes and evolves. He pointed to the James Bond film franchise as an example of this with its instantly recognisable title sequence and the spy’s famous line of introduction which always remains the same but is updated to resonate with modern audiences.

“Why do I use James Bond as an example? We live in a world today where I spend my time getting clients to understand consistency, to keep saying the same thing but refresh it and keep refreshing it,” he said. “The danger with digital media and all those assets you’ve got is that people believe you have got to keep changing, we live in an accelerated culture and people are changing. Of course we do for certain things but… great brands have a consistency to them and they refresh. The problem we have today is marketing directors stay with a brand for a year and half or two and then move on. They want to change everything because that’s how they build their careers.”

Hegarty was speaking at the Digital Cinema Media (DCM) Upfront conference at BAFTA earlier this morning (23 November).

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