US$166 billion and counting

understand what a brand is and what branding involves

This is the second of 10 ‘BEST OF THOUGHTS’ from the more than 200 THOUGHTS published in 2018.

The Professor of Clinical Marketing at NYU, and one of the world’s leading experts on branding, recently predicted that 10 years from now there will only be two categories of brand – luxury and retail. He predicted the end of branding as we know it. That said, there is still considerable merit in building a strong brand – whether personal, product, or corporate.

But how do you build the optimal brand?

Jeff Bezos is the richest man on the planet. He has an estimated net worth of US$166 billion, and his wealth is estimated to be growing at the rate of US$98 million dollars per day – mostly on the back of the wildly successful Amazon brand.

Jeff Bezos offers an insightful definition of a brand:
‘Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room’.

Your brand, whether personal, product, or corporate, is not what you want it to be. It is not what you are working towards. It is not even what it needs to be. Your brand is what your target market says it is. It is a reflection of how they see you, and it is the basis upon which they make decisions about you.

It is appropriate that a brand be aspirational, but it can never be more than a summary of your market’s perception of you, your product or your business.

Branding is the process of reducing the gap between what your brand is and what it needs to be in order to optimise profitability. It involves three major steps:

  • Determine what your brand needs to be
  • Determine what your brand is
  • Reduce the gap between what is and what needs to be

Branding brings your brand to life by making the intention and the message a reality and ensuring that your target market recognises this reality.

While building a brand can be a complex process, be very suspicious of anyone that tries to tell you that branding is any more complex than this. Also, be wary of anyone who tells you that a statement in your business plan or marketing strategy is your brand. It is, at best, what you think your optimal brand SHOULD be. It may not be what it is.

Clearly, the Amazon approach to branding has been extremely successful. Here are 5 major things we can learn from Amazon:

  • While you may define your optimal brand – your target audience defines your actual brand.
  • The optimal brand must be defined on the basis of the needs and wants of your target market.
  • If you cannot live your optimal brand 24/7 – it will never exist. Authenticity is essential.
  • The roots of your optimal brand can be found in your story.
  • Great brands are well differentiated and consistently delivered.


Before you start to create a brand, understand what brand and branding are.
Never confuse your optimal brand with your actual brand. The target audience defines your actual brand – and it is your actual brand, not your optimal brand, that influences purchase behaviour.

Put the customer at the absolute centre of your brand.

Put the facts ahead of gut feelings, habit, and guesswork.


Entrepreneur, Personal Design, Google, Branding, Visual Capitalist, Lindstrom, The Guardian, , Forbes

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Entrepreneur, Personal Design, Google, Branding, Visual Capitalist, Lindstrom, The Guardian, , Forbes

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