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What is a brand?
A brand is the difference between a pair of running shoes and a pair of Nikes.
A brand is what people feel about you, your product, the service you provide, or your organization.
It's part rational, but mostly emotional.
People will forgive a strong brand if it makes a mistake.
Remember NEW! Coke?
Likewise, people won't forgive a weak brand if it makes a mistake.
remember Gateway computers?
We thought so.
So, what is the secret of a strong brand?
The answer is surprisingly simple.
FOCUS
I'll say it again, FOCUS.
Great brands stand for something, not a lot of things.
ONE THING
For decades, Swedish car maker VOLVO define their brand with a single word - safety.
Well, it seems to work for them.
Sometimes you have to think beyond the category to know what you stand for.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON makes motorcycles.
Want to guess what they stand for?
FREEDOM
Not a more powerful engine, not a more reliable bike, or a smoother ride, freedom.
Brands are experiential.
Take Starbucks, they differentiate themselves in many ways, and offer a consistent brand experience in every Starbucks you visit.
They even have their own language.
Starbucks is created in a unique community of coffee lovers that speak Starbucksease, and are true brand ambassadors.
It does not get any better than that.
Starbucks have realised they weren't in a business of serving coffee.
They were in the business of serving people.
So, can you put a monetary value on a brand?
The people at interbrand research can.
Remember the fine folks at Coca-Cola we mentioned earlier?
Care to guess what their brand is worth?
That's right, according to interbrand about 61% of the value of the Coca-Cola corporation is brand.
That's a lot of cash.
Here's the monetary value of some other brands you will be familiar with.
So, a brand is worth protecting and nurturing.
But how?
Here are a few key points to help maintain or even grow your brand.
One, be different.
The world is filled with parity products and services.
Make yours stand out.
Two, be vigilant.
Don't allow your brand to do things it shouldn't.
Don't be the gate-weigh computers of your category.
Three, be relevant.
The market place changes constantly,
make sure your brand keeps up.
So, who really owns a brand?
The brand manager? The VP marketing?
Brands are owned by the people.
It used to be, a company would tell people about their brand.
It was pretty much a one-way thing.
Now, it is much more of a conversation.
But don't worry.
This instant feedback can be very useful.
It gives you a glimpse into what's in the hearts and minds of your customers and allows you to take action when you need to.
It can also help you stay focused, and that's a good thing.
So let's recap.
A brand is much more than your logo, or the colour of your truck lid, it's something intangible.
It's what people think of you, but mostly on an emotional level.
Great brands are focused, they stand for something.
Great brands are not just seen and heard, they are experienced, and in a way that is uniquely theirs.
A brand can have tremendous value, and should be treated that way.
Keep your brand healthy by being different, vigilant, and relevant.
And finally, never forget that people, your customers, own your brand.
Listen to them, respect them.
Most of all, earn their trust.
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What is a brand?

34088 Folder Collection
Leslie Li published on January 27, 2016    Leslie Li translated    Kristi Yang reviewed
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