Funky brands have one thing in common as far as their brand strategy goes -- design. Design is not an afterthought for them, it's something that drives an entire organization. Think Alessi, or Camper shoes, for example.
"The impact is undeniable when a company like Apple puts so much extra effort into making its products and marketing look “cool,” as well as ensuring that its look is unified and communicates the level of innovation that the organization prides itself on. And the business community clearly admires the company's dedication to overall design." ((Source: Fast Company www.fastcompany.com/3002635/design-thinking-starts-top))
Why could design-focused strategies build your brand in better ways than strategies based on "analytical thinking", e.g. financial data? First of all, it's all too common to build your strategy upon analytical thinking, and many executives are used to relying on data. Thinking in terms of improving product design is simply not common, especially in big companies (with an important exception of Apple).
"Design thinking, in contrast, provides the ideas that allow a company to innovate and win; it’s more of a collaborative process where creativity is welcomed, no idea is ridiculed, and the designer’s input is welcomed to help match a consumer need with what is technically feasible and a viable business strategy. A fresh, out-of-the-box attitude is brought to bear on problem-solving, rather than a strict engineering or financial perspective." ((Source: Fast Company, www.fastcompany.com/3002635/design-thinking-starts-top)
For big companies, moving away from analytical thinking towards design thinking may seem like an impossibly huge task. But if you are a small and agile company, think in terms of customer-focused design, and you might as well win the hearts of your target audience.