This is a question that has fascinated me for over a decade. One of the reasons is that it always seemed to me that companies with a “strong" brand command a great amount of public attention and seemed to be an intrinsic part of the culture and in some weird way moved the culture forward. What I also found interesting was that there seemed to be a strong correlation between a strong brand and a very healthy income statement. Now that last point piqued my interest as I am sure it has yours. So let’s explore, what is a brand ?
A brand is more than just a logo, it is more than a slogan or a witty advert and it is certainly not exclusive to business, but we'll explore it in a business context.
A brand is a promise that a business makes to it’s stakeholders, it is a statement of what a company is, what it believes, why it exists and where it stands in the scheme of things. A brand is a statement of a company’s philosophy. A brand is what determines the place a company will occupy in the market place and also how long a company will last, 3 years, 5 years or 150 years. Most interesting however is the fact that the value or power of a brand lies not with the company or its products but with the consumer, the why or how that is deserves its own article.
Using the above definitions of a brand, how does a strong brand translate to a healthy balance sheet and shareholder value ? Great question, and the answer foĺlows a simple flow of logic. A brand (identity) buys a company the customer’s attention, allowing you to have a conversation with the customer where you can get valuable insight into the customers' thoughts, feelings and habits. This insight allows you to capitalize on present opportunities to provide more value to your customers and to anticipate potential shifts int tastes and demands. A great brand also gives customers what they didn’t know they wanted but now absolutely must have.
The job of the competent marketer is to maximize present market opportunities to provide value whilst simultaneously positioning the company to I tegrate market shifts into their strategy consistently without changing their focus. How a marketer can have a conversation with the customer, gain insight or begin to build a brand are valuable deserving their own time and space. I hope to cover them at length in following articles.