Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Defining the big idea in your brand

Brands are about you not me.

Brands are about people not products.

Brands are about customers not companies.

A great brand is one you want to live your life by, one you trust and hang on to whilst everything around you is changing, one that articulates the type of person you are or want to be, one that enables you to do what you couldn't otherwise achieve.

Brands were originally developed as labels of ownership. However today it is what they do for people that matters much more, how they reflect and engage them, how they define their aspiration and enable them to do more. Powerful brands can drive success in competitive and financial markets, and indeed become the organisation’s most valuable assets.

Yet there are few great brands around.

Most brands are still labels, relying too strongly on brand names and logos, and focused too heavily on the companies and products that they help identify. They are articulated through superficial strap lines, and delivered through generic service. They make promises that the organisation struggles to deliver, often failing to even attract attention, and rarely gaining the trust of skeptical customers.

Powerful brands have the ability to cut-through the noise and competitiveness of markets, and to engage and retain the best customers in a way that delivers superior financial results in both the short and long-term.

A powerful brand is one that:

· Defines a compelling purpose, a big idea that stands out from the crowd; that goes beyond the product or industry, and really matters to people.

· Reflects the customer, builds an image and reputation in the mind of the customer that has personal relevance, even if it alienates others.

· Engages customers in achieving the big idea, delivered in a style through which people say "this is my kind of company".

· Enables customers to do more, reinforcing the benefits, and supporting their application, but also enabling physically or emotionally to do even more.

· Anchors customers around something familiar and important, whilst all else in the market, or in their personal world, continues to change.

· Evolves as markets and customers evolve, with the portability to move easily into new markets, and glue to connect diverse activities.

· Attracts the target customers, building preference, driving purchase behaviour and sustaining a price premium.

· Retains the best customers, building their loyalty, introducing new services, and encouraging advocacy.

· Drives shareholder value, not only through profits, but also by improving investor confidence, credit ratings and reducing cost of capital.

A powerful brand does all of this. However a brand that attracts great attention because of its impressive ads, and that is perceived to be cool and desirable, and drives huge demand, is still not "powerful" unless it can also convert this demand into sustained profitability.

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