US$166 billion and counting

understand what a brand is and what branding involves

The Professor of Clinical Marketing at NYU, one of the worlds leading experts on branding, recently predicted that 10 years from now there will only be two categories of brand – luxury and retail. He is predicting the end of branding as we know it. That said, as at October 2018, there is still considerable merit in building a strong brand – whether it be a personal brand, a product brand, or a corporate brand.But how do you build the optimal brand? This is the first of 5 thoughts addressing this question.

Jeff Bezos is the richest man on the planet with an estimated net worth of US$166 billion. 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 involves bringing your brand to life – making the intention and the message a reality, and ensuring that this is a reality your target market recognises.

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.

So, what can we learn from the Amazon approach to branding? Here are 4 things we can learn:

  • 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.SOURCES OF THIS WEEK’S STATISTICS
Entrepreneur, Personal Design, Google, Branding, Visual Capitalist, Lindstrom, The Guardian, , Forbes

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