Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
– Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon
Brands are powerful because they are in all of our minds – they are not just in the head of the company’s marketing director. For example, strong brands such as Disney stand for family fun and Google for information organised. A brand is a set of ideas a company or product stands for in our minds – shaped by that company or product’s actions. We, as consumers interpret brands, thus branding is the social creation of meaning.
Brands demonstrate the sense of belonging – it’s that emotional link, that sense of familiarity – which function to both the people who are in the same group, and for those who do not belong. Brands are compelling stories, offering quintessential qualities for which the consumer believes there is absolutely no substitute – brands are totems.
Brands are a projection of what we believe is reality – we set up our own view of what we want to be seen as and who we want to be seen as, and we use brands as totems to describe who we want to be in reality. Therefore, it is important for any company not to obsess about their brand as it will not cause growth to happen, but instead doing the right things that will create growth – and a strong brand will follow as the effect.
To do this, there are basically 3 principles for any company to follow to build a (successful) brand:
1) Think purpose
Start with ‘Why’. Why do you exist? Why would anybody need you? Defining a sense of purpose will help shape the difference you want to make – socially and commercially.
2) Think experience
Design joined-up experiences across all the things you do. All good brands understand that growth comes from experiences that are, simply, useful. Experiences are not things you create and then transmit to people, instead they are the things people shape for themselves.
3) Think change
Let things grow from the roots. Revolutions rarely start from the top – tomorrow’s high-growth brands will be constantly experimental and completely boundary-less.
We, as consumers buy into brands that satisfy our needs. It is up to the company to understand the motivations behind this behaviour – whether be it functional, psychosocial or even self-fulfilment. It is this relationship that a strong brand ultimately externally, makes people want to buy, and creates drive internally. These two behaviours create the immediate commercial effects, which every company strives for.