The strange entity that is a brand

We live in a world that is dominated by major brands – Apple, Microsoft, Coca Cola, McDonalds, Sony, Nestle, Samsung, Hilton Hotels to name but a few. But brands are a strange entity. There is nothing else in our society today which is completely intangible for which we are prepared to pay money and yet we are persuaded to do just that multiple times every day. A brand is not a product, name, trademark, artwork, logo, pack, business or service. Rather it’s a collection of our personal emotions and thoughts of our experiences and as such brands work on a one to one level – no two persons relationship with a brand is identical. Our age, gender, life stage, work environment, social circle and need states all impact on the way we view a brand at a specific point of time and as a consequence, brands live or die by the way it is perceived by its multiple audiences of one! A manufacturer might say “I make products and sure, my business has a name – does that mean I have a brand?’ To answer this question, let’s think about the following:
  • A product is made in a factory.
  • A consumer makes a simultaneous product and brand choice.
  • A product can be copied.
  • A brand is unique.
  • A product can become outdated.
  • A successful brand is timeless.
  • A product generates turnover and profit.
  • A brand creates business value.
Whilst products have physical attributes, a brand only has intrinsic equities and it is these that create a relationship, a ‘dialogue’ with a consumer – conveying much more than what the product is, what it is called and what it does. We often hear consumers say, ‘I’ll only buy that brand, I don’t like the others, they don’t taste as good’. But in reality, how great are the physical differences? Or rather are the differences created in the mind of the consumer through  their interaction with the brand? To help us to explore this a little further, Charles Revson the founder of  Revlon said in the sixties, ‘In the factory we make cosmetics, in the store we sell hope’. From this, it is clear that Charles saw the equities of his business extending way beyond the physical nature of his cosmetics into something emotive and intangible.
The strange entity that is a brand
Branded goods
Let’s take a look at the properties of brands from 2 different points of view:

Customers view

  • Saves me time when I’m choosing what to buy
  • Dependable, consistent
  • Easier to process mentally
  • Reassurance and quality

Owners view

  • More resistant to price competition
  • Commands higher price and better margins
  • Enjoys higher loyalty levels
  • Can have an indefinitely longer life
From this it is evident that the owner’s view relies totally on the response of his customers to his brand. Without the appropriate customer reaction, a brand is valueless.

So how is a powerful and successful brand created?

Brands feed off the environment in which they live and therefore how they are placed in relation to their competitors is crucial. This is called ‘brand positioning’ and is based on what the brand does and the audience it is targeting. But simply getting the brand positioning correct is not enough. With the multiplicity of brands in every consumer sector, many are inevitably positioned in the same space and competing for the same consumers. True differentiation which will lead to creation of a strong brand relies on the establishment of a unique ‘multi-faceted brand personality’. And key to the creation of this personality is to understand why a brand exists – not what it makes or does but why. It is a way of expressing the totality of the brand – if the brand came to life what sort of person would it be? After all, brands are judged in the same way as people judge their friends, partners, business colleagues – on an emotional level, not a tangible level.

Brand Positioning & Personality – versus your competitors

Brand Positioning

  • Why does it do what it does and why is it important.
  • What it does (functionally).
  • How does it do it.
  • For whom (a description of needs, attitudes, behaviour and demographics that identifies the audience and mind-set of your customers).

Brand Personality

Who it is (describe the characteristics of the brand in terms similar to those used about a person. The result should be a clearly, defined personality.

The 5 P’s

This is then used with the 5 Ps (there are many options here but this is my preferred model) – the founding principle of brand creation leading to the creation of a unique and powerful brand proposition.
  • Presentation
  • Price
  • Performance
  • Positioning
  • Proposition

And finally, six points to remember

  1. A brand affects everything to do with the management of the brand and its marketing mix: products, service, pricing, promotion, place and style of sales outlets – the totality that interfaces with your customer.
  2. A brand is the business of meaning. When a customer sees your brand, the key question is what does it mean to them!
  3. The reality in the market place is not who you believe you are or indeed what you are, but rather what your customers think you are.
  4. It is vital to distinguish between product attributes, product benefits and brand benefits.
  5. A brand is a combination of product benefits and added values. With today’s technologies, product advantages can be copied quickly by competitors but a brand cannot.
  6. The principles of creating a strong brand can be summarised as:
    • Your reason for being
    • Customer needs
    • Defined audience
    • Clarity of communication
    • Defined benefit
    • Defined focus
    • Creation of a brand persona
    • Consistency of brand positioning
    • Continuity of progressive brand evolution.

Call: +44 (0) 207 205 2998 or email today for an initial chat.

Last Updated on 01/04/2023 by Eddie Stableford

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