The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


How To Build A Great Brand …
December 13, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

There are companies out there that say to build a great brand, you have to follow an amazingly complex process.

Then to make it worse, they equate ‘great’ to simply a brand that is profitable. Or big.

Sure, those are factors – especially the profitable bit – but I’m not sure if that’s what makes a truly great brand.

For me, great is when you have an irrational connection with your audiences hearts, minds & wallets.

Where people will go out of their way to choose you over another … regardless of price, distribution or heritage.

In these highly competitive times, it is arguable that ‘brand’ is more important than ever.

Which goes back to how you build a great one.

Well, according to Richard Branson it’s not all that hard to do.

Sure, to make it come alive is full of complexities, demands and pitfalls, but at its heart, ingenuityinventivenessballs & a relentless hunger to make your brand the best in terms of experience & reputation are all that matters.


52 Comments so far
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I believe the difference between Branson and branding companies can be explained even more simply. One looks at challenges as exciting. The other looks at consensus as exciting.

Comment by George

Branding companies will never approach building brands like Branson because they only make money from complex and lengthy processes and passive consensus. The other problem is that there isn’t really a tool for relentless hunger and balls. Though I’m betting they say there is.

Comment by Pete

Branson’s approach to brand building versus branding agencies is similar to the arguments relating to the power of emotion in advertising or, at an extreme level, religion. You either agree with him or don’t. While most marketers would want their audience to have an irrational connection with their brand, most marketers would favour safe over any possibility of causing offence or customer alienation.

And there lies the difference.

Comment by Pete

Finally. I find it amusing that branding companies have started promoting innovation despite the fact their biggest innovation is claiming they do innovation. Surely if a client approaches them to help them innovate, the logical answer is to inform them that their internal structure is wrong and they need to address it. Why would you trust an external company to have your best interests at heart when they get paid regardless of success. At least when we did it at cynic our remuneration was directly linked to success so we were emotionally in the game.

Branding companies use more smoke and mirrors than the average catwalk show.

Comment by Pete

I find it funny that there’s so many companies that say they’re about innovation when [1] they are ignorant about so many of the factors that lead to successful innovation … from distribution to price modeling … and [2] in many cases, companies don’t have a problem innovating, they have a problem knowing how to get it through their system so it can actually happen.

Comment by Rob

You don’t build brands, you build businesses.

Comment by john

Excellent.

Comment by George

I don’t know if I agree with that.

There’s a lot of very successful businesses that are hardly great brands. I accept they would all have, to differing defrees, the principals that Robert highlighted and I accept the heart of a great brand is a great business but I still think you can have one without the other.

Comment by Pete

You’re getting feisty Pete. It’s very impressive except I’m not sure about your timing as you said you have your review with George any day soon.

Comment by DH

Who says these successful businesses aren’t great “brands”? Their very success would suggest that their customers are very happy with them and it is customers (existing and potential) who are the ultimate brand arbiters.

And, sorry Pete, the idea of a great brand without a great business is ridiculous – without a business it will cease to exist and thus is not a great brand.

Comment by john

Are you suggesting high profitability is the only measure of a great brand then John?

I did say that a great brand needed to be a great business but I stand by my belief a great business may not be a great brand, at least by the definition Rob laid out.

Comment by Pete

can we just agree wed rather be on team fucking branson than team fucking landor. and lay off pete, doddsy. the fucker is showing some fight for the first time in his nicey fucking nicey life.

Comment by andy@cynic

and for the fucking record, bad brands can still survive. case in fucking point. divorce lawyers. more fucking specifically, my exes divorce lawyers.

Comment by andy@cynic

The day any of us start accepting Rob’s paramters as a starting point for anything will be a very sad day. But no it’s not just about profitability, indeed I didn’t mention profitability, I just repeated your term successful. However, profitability is a pretty good indicator that a lot of people think highly of the product/service.

My basic philosphy however is that the brand follows the business and not the other way round, because the brand is not some skin-deep marque imposed by consultancies, but is inherent to the business and recognised as such by the buying public.

And, anyway, George said I was right.

Comment by john

Is this a fight between nice and pedantic? I think it is. I’m going to enjoy this. Let the sad battle begin.

Comment by DH

And for the record I hate the word brand. I hate the word branding even more. If you look back in the history books, you’ll see that people used to ask what make of car/TV/washing machine is that? Businesses and agencies should be reminded of that.

Comment by john

Scarily, you and my wife share a lot in common. And I don’t just mean your distain for me.

http://tinyurl.com/d32al93

Comment by Rob

It’s all about the hair. That is the secret no one wants us to know.

Guess that’s you fucked Rob.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Given Rob owns half of the worlds property, gets freebies at every turn and works at one of the best agencies in the World getting paid a fortune, I don’t know if I agree with your hair theory. I wish I could though.

Comment by DH

Seems this post was written to make sure Rob still gets his Virgin Atlantic perks now they’ve signed a deal with Delta. So transparent.

Comment by DH

I swear that is entirely coincidental. Honest.

Comment by Rob

I agree with Pete, and he never said there could be a great brand without it being a great business. So, John, are you suggesting that all successful businesses are great brands?
Maybe you should share your definition of a brand with us.
Always eager to learn.

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

Didn’t he say it when he said this? “I accept the heart of a great brand is a great business but I still think you can have one without the other.”

Not sure it’s a definbition but to me a brand is just what people think of a business/product. That simple and that complex.

As for this idea of unsuccessful businesses being great brands, I can’t get my head round that because of the implicit transience. Maybe people can give me some examples.

Comment by john

sheep versus beige.

Comment by andy@cynic

And yes I think success is essential, it doesn’t have to be huge success, but surely there has to be some sort of external affirmation?

Comment by john

fuck me, you sound like a life coach now. what the fuck is going on.

Comment by andy@cynic

Oh my god, there’s a real debate going on. And it’s with Pete and Doddsy. This is basically the best Christmas present I could ever have. Well, not ever have. In fact not a Christmas present I’d like … but it’s still amazing to see. Only took 6 years.

Comment by Rob

Great brands are decided by people, not profits. Profits just show that many people feel the same way and the brand is a well run business.

Comment by Bazza

Anyone that can survive after making the newton knows what he’s talking about.

Comment by DH

I agree with you and I like to add.
A brand like charisma is the attribution of properties/traits by people. Whether it is the Catholic church, democracy, apple, or virgin. Key is that these attributions lead to a promise or if you like expectation of an experience related to the business of the company. Even if the experience can be al fancy and shit, in the long run the only thing that counts is to meet or out do the promise and the expectation about the product. With a shitty product, no matter how well you run your business apart from it, you will end up bottoms up.

Comment by Paul

Double excellent.

Comment by George

You can take the boy away from planning, but you can’t taking planning away from the boy.

We trained you quite well didn’t we. Ahem.

Comment by Rob

At pseudo deep and meaningful? Absolutely.

Comment by Bazza

In that case, George trained you well.

Comment by Rob

If coke lost all of its means if production it’s market capitalisation rate would still be billions and if amazon lost all its web infrastructure it could still do the same. That’s part of the point of a great brand
But I don’t agree that getting people to love you irrationally and seek you out is the point of brands because most people who buy a brand are disloyal light buyers who don’t care that much. The point of brands is to help people not to think and choose stuff they think will be better without much effort
Dell has the same loyalty levels as apple

Comment by Northern

Ahhhh, the old Byron Sharp argument. Yes, I agree – loyalty is an illusion, which is why I muttered a few weeks ago whether the role of brands is to actually stop people being able to easily compare them to others rather than to build deep and meaningful relationships.

That said, couldn’t it be argued that if people choose stuff just because they think it’s better for them – without considering or looking at alternatives – that’s irrational love or behavior too?

I think we might be saying the same thing, except you say it much, much better than me. As usual.

Comment by Rob

Irrational convenience, heuristics, acting on feelings and subconscious triggers etc
We just choose the brands we’ve heard of that we tend to feel good about
Which is why must wk stuff tends to be good in my view because its concerned with how people feel and being relevantly distinctive
I’m stuck on a hellish job for a broadcaster who can’t get rational work through research because they refuse to believe that people actually don’t care about their superior programming because they think they’re arrogant and don’t get their culture.
Sometimes saying you’re superior is like the empire telling the rebels how great the Death Star is

Comment by Northern

How long have you been waiting to use that line?

I’m just about to go into a meeting … I’m sooooo going to use it.

Now, why the hell are you up at this time?

Train?
Ill Child?
Drunkenness?

Comment by Rob

No cashflow leads to no market capitalisation.
HMV anyone?

Comment by john

Where my opinion differs to yours John is that you seem to be only defining a good brand from the shareholders perspective. That view might be one that ensures the brands continued operation, but there is also the perspective from the audience, where profitability is not the key consideration for loyalty.

If Apple were to disappear tomorrow, the physical entity of the brand may disappear, but it would still continue in the minds of many loyal users.

Comment by Bazza

Not at all. As I wrote last night, the brand is mainly defined by customers and potential customers (which I assume inclcudes employees and shareholders). My point about successful business is purely about durability and energy for want of much better words.

Where you and I disagee somewhat is on the half-life of extinct brands. If Apple disappeared today, I think you could argue that its products would essentiially vanish in lets say 10 years due to failure and replacement. Theyd be museum pieces and rapidly fading memories that would require increasingly heavy prompting to come back to mind. Think back in the tech sphere and you’ll see what I mean. Lotus 1-2-3, Wordperfect, that great scandanavian search engine that predated Google but which I can no longer remember the name of.

There may be a couple that linger longer but the huge majority will not – and that’s without the swamping of day to day conversation by all the new generations who never used them.

I haven’t thought this last idea through but if your argument is correct doesn’t it follow that you don’t need to do anyhting once a brand has been established. It will just survive.

Comment by john

Maybe I’m wrong. I’d really like people to come up with a great brand that wasn’t successful (be that in terms of prolonged profitability or large user numbers).

Comment by john

No becuse markets and culture shifts, you have to move with them, or ahead of them.
That’s HMV’s problem
It was Comet’s problem
It was Golden Wonders problme
And the way they’re going, it will be Apples problem

Comment by northern

i dont come here to read debate like this. actually i dont know why i come here but i know its not to read shit like this.

Comment by andy@cynic

To whom or what are you saying no, NP?

Comment by john

You sir

Comment by northern

Which part of my rambling? I never said anything about not staying ahead of market or culture.

Comment by john

Once a brand is established it will just survive
The whole business including the brand shit needs to continually evolve to survive

Comment by Northern

Well that means we’re in agreement. My suggestion of the brand just surviving was the impliation of what bazza had written and with which I disagreed. That’s as clear as a propritary process isn’t it? Good day.

Comment by john

Bloody train

Comment by Northern

are you stating a fact or expressing a fucking opinion? what the fuck is it with everyone on this post?

Comment by andy@cynic

The thread has been lost

Comment by Northern




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