Everything is a brand: Coca-Cola, FedEx, Porsche, New York City, the United States, Madonna, and you—yes, you! A brand is any label that carries meaning and associations. A great brand does more: It lends coloration and resonance to a product or service.
Russell Hanlin, the CEO of Sunkist Growers, observed: “An
orange is an orange . . . is an orange. Unless . . . that orange happens to be Sunkist, a name 80 percent of consumers know
and trust.” We can say the same about Starbucks: “There is coffee and there is Starbucks coffee.”
Are brands important? Roberto Goizueta, the late CEO of
Coca-Cola, commented: “All our factories and facilities could burn down tomorrow but you’d hardly touch the value of the company; all that actually lies in the goodwill of our brand franchise and the collective knowledge in the company.” And a booklet by Johnson & Johnson reaffirms this: “Our company’s name and trademark are by far our most valuable assets.”
Companies must work hard to build brands. David Ogilvy insisted: “Any damn fool can put on a deal, but it takes genius,
faith and perseverance to create a brand.”
The sign of a great brand is how much loyalty or preference it commands. Harley Davidson is a great brand because Harley Davidson motorcycle owners rarely switch to another brand. Nor do Apple Macintosh users want to switch to Microsoft.
A well-known brand fetches extra pennies. The aim of branding, according to one cynic, “is to get more money for a product than it is worth.” But this is a narrow view of the benefits that a trusted brand confers on users. The user knows by the brand name the product quality and features to expect and the services that will be rendered, and this is worth extra pennies.
A brand saves people time, and this is worth money. Niall
Fitzgerald, chairman of Unilever, observed: “A brand is a storehouse of trust that matters more and more as choices multiply.
People want to simplify their lives.”
The brand amounts to a contract with the customer regarding
how the brand will perform. The brand contract must be honest. Motel 6, for example, offers clean rooms, low prices, and good service but does not imply that the furnishings are luxurious or the bathroom is large.
How are brands built? It’s a mistake to think that advertising builds the brand. Advertising only calls attention to the brand; it might even create brand interest and brand talk. Brands are built holistically, through the orchestration of a variety of tools, including advertising, public relations (PR), sponsorships, events, social causes, clubs, spokespersons, and so on.
The real challenge is not in placing an ad but to get the media talking about the brand. Media journalists are on the lookout for interesting products or services, such as Palm, Viagra, Starbucks, eBay. A new brand should strive to establish a new category, have an interesting name, and tell a fascinating story. If print and TV will pick up the story, people will hear about it and tell their friends. Learning about a brand from others creates credibility. Learning about it only through paid advertising is easy to dismiss because of the biased nature of advertising. Don’t advertise the brand, live it. Ultimately the brand is built by Brands 9
your employees who deliver a positive experience to the customers. Did the brand experience live up to the brand promise? This is why companies must orchestrate the brand experience with the brand promise. Choosing a good brand name helps. A consumer panel was
shown the pictures of two beautiful women and asked who was more beautiful. The vote split 50–50. Then the experimenter named one woman Jennifer and the other Gertrude. The woman named Jennifer subsequently received 80 percent of the votes.
Great brands are the only route to sustained, above-average
profitability. And great brands present emotional benefits, not just rational benefits. Too many brand managers focus on rational incentives such as the brand’s...
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