Brand it like Bond 25: a masterclass in ‘Fresh Consistency’

Post by Simon Gore, Managing Partner (UK/Global) based in London and Head of Naming & Visual Identity

The official James Bond Twitter account revealed that the 25th film in the super-spy series will be called No Time To Die and open in April 2020. As anticipation builds, early signs are that it will be again a great example of a brand successfully remembering and refreshing what made it famous to create ‘fresh consistency’.

In this post we look at how the producers pull off a brand balancing act:

  • FRESH = New and exciting things to keep the brand story current and up-to-date
  • CONSISTENCY = Tried and tested elements that viewers remember, love and expect, that have built brand fame   

Stick to your positioning

The official synopsis for the new movie sounds familiar, building off the same basic positioning of every Bond fim: ‘James Bond beats the baddie to save to the world’ …

‘Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology’ (1)

So. You know the story. You know the main characters. You even know the catchphrases …but fresh new twists and turns should keep the crowds coming…

Refresh 1: Brand partnerships

The brands that Bond partners up with are a key way in which the producers have continually reinforced and refreshed its global brand, ensuring that the movies have stayed both memorable and relevant for 50 years. No Time To Die will be no exception.

The film looks set to have Ian Fleming’s hero make his first concession to climate change, by driving an electric Aston Martin – albeit one which retails at £250,000 (2). Daniel Craig’s Bond should take the wheel of an Aston Martin Rapide E, one of only 155 electric cars being built by the British manufacturer. The production team is apparently afraid of the iconic agent getting labelled as ‘too PC’, but felt the time was right to put him in a zero-emission vehicle. Aston Martin’s relationship with the spy franchise began in 1964, when Sean Connery drove a DB5 sports car in Goldfinger.

Refresh 2: Female roles

The role of women continues to be a challenge for Bond in a #metoo world: the character has been widely criticised for being overly macho. It will be interesting to see how the producers update Bond to keep him relevant for today, whilst respecting the brand’s roots.

Bringing in the writer of ‘Killing Eve’ and ‘Fleabag’, Phoebe Waller-Bridge to work on the script is seen as a very positive move in helping Bond move into the 2020s.

One bold move is that, according to rumours, whilst Bond will again be played by Daniel Craig, agent ‘007’ will actually be played by a woman, Lashana Lynch, a 31 year old recently seen as Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel. This could be because, following Bond’s retirement as 007 at the end of 2015’s Spectre, his iconic MI6 number has been reallocated.

As an on-set insider describes: “There is a pivotal scene where M says, ‘Come in 007’, and in walks Lashana, who is beautiful, black and a woman. It’s a popcorn-dropping moment. Bond is still Bond, but he’s been replaced by this stunning woman.’ (3).

However, will the line “The name’s Bond. JOAN Bond”, ever grace a 007 movie? Not according to producer Barbara Broccoli, who has ruled out a female replacement for when Craig steps down as Bond, concerned that too much freshness in the mix could potentially damage her very valuable brand’s foundations. “I always feel that Bond is a male character, that is just a fact,” she commented (4).

Refresh 3: The baddie

Key to the success of recent Bond movies has been bringing in top acting talent to keep things sharp and fresh. Recent baddies have included Oscar-nominated Javier Bardem and Oscar-winning Christoph Waltz. The addition of Academy Award Winner for Best Actor, Rami Malek, demonstrates this continued commitment.

Refresh 4: The technology

MI6’s legendary Quartermaster, ‘Q’, will no doubt be arming Bond and his fellow agents with innovative gadgets before they enter the field. Similarly, they will be coming up against the shadowy Spectre organisation again, threatening the world with latest, barely believable Doomsday technology.

No Time To Die’s Director, Cary Fukunaga has been whipping up excitement on this with a recent post on Instagram involving…a remote-controlled toy duck!

Time for some ‘Fresh Consistency’ on your brand?

If your brand is feeling a bit tired versus the competition, take a secret file out of the 007 dossier and undertake some renovations with a refreshing brand audit:

  1. Look back: remember what made you famous in the first place, eg ‘Bond versus Baddie to save the world’.

 

  1. Look forward: tap into emerging trends and technologies, e.g. gender equality and eCars.

 

  1. Study your direct competition, e.g. the Bourne, Mission Impossible and John Wick franchises.

 

  1. Analyse which other indirect competitors are catching your target audience’s attention, e.g. Villanelle from Killing Eve.

 

  1. Finally, identify what you need to ‘KEEP’, ‘UPDATE’, ‘LOSE’ and ‘ADD’ in terms of brand positioning and brand properties, to strike the right balance of ‘fresh’ and ‘consistency’

In conclusion, the key to longevity is indeed to ‘Brand it like Bond’ – if you don’t keep your offer fresh, your competition undoubtedly will, and you and your brand will be replaced. And maybe it’s time to order your Aston Martin Rapide E now, so it arrives in time for the April 2020 launch?

Sources:

  1. esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a28762503/no-time-to-die-bond-25-title-meaning/
  2. theguardian.com/film/2019/mar/13/james-bond-to-drive-electric-aston-martin-in-new-movie
  3. theguardian.com/film/2019/jul/15/lashana-lynch-new-007-james-bond-daniel-craig
  4. hindustantimes.com/hollywood/james-bond-will-always-be-a-male-character-says-producer-barbara-broccoli/story-CsjSDrwn0hny1BZPjsFBDL.html
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