Why Your Brand Is Your Fortune
You may think Nike sells shoes and Apple sells Macs and iPhones, but you’re wrong. They sell their brand. Developing a powerful brand can spell the difference between struggling to make ends meet and achieving real success. Why is developing a successful brand so important? Take a Nike shoe or an iPhone and replace the known brand name with a generic label: you’ve just demonetized both products. Both are as functional as they were before, but neither is as valuable. The brand is what creates the value.
So, what is a brand? According to Wikipedia, a brand is: “the personality that identifies a product, service or company (name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or combination of them) and how it relates to key constituencies: customers, staff, partners, investors etc. Some people distinguish the psychological aspect, brand associations like thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, experiences, beliefs, attitudes, and so on that become linked to the brand, of a brand from the experiential aspect.”
In other words a brand is not a product; it is the emotions, thoughts, and perceptions that a product elicits. It is those reactions that create a brand’s value. If the majority of people agree that something is valuable, then it’s valuable. The value isn’t necessarily intrinsic to the product itself. The value comes from the worth we collectively assign to it.
For example, if you show someone a painting and say it was painted by John Smith, it will be assigned a particular value, if you then say you were wrong and it was actually painted by Rembrandt, the value of the painting will skyrocket. The Rembrandt name, label, brand (what have you) is what drives the value. Similarly, people will pay top dollar for an original fashion designer’s purse. They’ll also pay for a complete counterfeit product, if it carries the right label. The label carries the value. And the assigning of value doesn’t stop with the product itself; people also react more favorably to others who are wearing clothes that sport a desirable brand or label. Rob Nelissen and Marijn Meijers of Tilburg University in the Netherlands held an experiment showing that people who wear designer clothes reap social benefits. But this only works when it’s obvious who the clothes were made by. In essence the label is much more important than the clothes themselves.
A brand is an experience, and a label or logo is what symbolizes that experience. The logo or label in essence becomes the brand. It is the symbol that tells the story. A brand creates an experience of certain qualities or characteristics that make it special or unique. When someone thinks of your product, service or business, what is the experience you want them to associate with it? How can you best create that experience? It’s not easy. It takes time and work, but creating an effective brand can truly be the difference between business failure and success.