Should brands be instant or percolated?

By Michelle Aw Yong, Director, SG

Instant coffee or a slow percolated brew? Downloadable logos or strategic crafted brands? In this age of instant-everything, is there value in the slower, more thoughtful crafting of brands? Our time-starved society thrives on enhancing productivity. But at what price? Wouldn’t something as important as the brand of your business deserve more time, attention and deeper thought?

There is something to be said about a cup of coffee that has been freshly percolated – the wafting aroma, the lingering taste. Not forgetting the process of grinding the beans, waiting for the kettle’s whistle, and finally sifting the grounds as you pour out the golden liquid. Of course, there is Nespresso – nifty, fashionable and many would say, tastes as good. But though we get the drink, we miss the experience of actually making coffee beans into coffee drink. In our time-pressed lives, we are often obsessed with the destination and may have forgotten how to appreciate the journey. The world of branding has not been immune to this.


Truth be told, we have missed our fair share of business opportunities with clients who can’t wait more than a few weeks to ‘get the brand’. When clever straplines can be found on Pinterest and logos can be instantly downloaded for just five bucks, many don’t appreciate that the process of developing a strategic brand position and identity is in many ways likened to making coffee the artisanal way – thoughtful and creative. If permitted to take its course, the process would usually have tapped deeply into the customer psyche, identified insights that lead to a creative spark, and be allowed to gestate and ruminate as it works through the rest of the brand ecosystem. And why is time needed? Because the strategic development and creative process thrives on slow, carefully considered thinking.

Indeed, against this backdrop of constant hurry, there is merit in slowing down for something as important as your brand. You may argue that a brand is not a coffee that takes time to make and savour; that brands are commercial assets and in business, time is money. But brands are not simply commercial assets; brands are mindsets, cultures, and a way of working. Brands make people, as do people make brands. And brands, like people, need time to be understood, formed or re-tuned. Rushing the process may deliver surface outcomes but the opportunity to engage and secure buy-in is compromised.


As Singapore transforms into a knowledge economy, a slower pace may be necessary. Neuroscience research has revealed that when we are more relaxed, the brain slips into a deeper, richer, more nuanced mode of thought. Artists have always known that you cannot hurry the act of creation and increasingly businesses are realising the same: that a knowledge and creative workforce needs to unplug in order to be innovative and productive.


It is possible that some of you may not make it to the end of this article, what with our fast declining attention span and the need for quick outcomes. But for the sake of a more robust brew – or brand – let’s try to give the process a chance to take its course.