Brands are verbs

by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded

What does your brand do for your customers? That’s the real question. Now, I’m not talking about specs or a description of what it literally does. What I want to know is what does it do for your customers. A brand done right creates a mindset in your company and in your customers. They almost become human in representation in customers minds. It’s possible to get your brand verb down to just one word. For example, Harley Davidson rebels, Nike wins, Intel innovates, and Apple creates. These brand qualities are what their customers identify with and want to make their own.

Brands are active. They just don’t sit around. Even bad ones are active. They just do harm as long as they go unchecked. A great brand does something for the customer in a real, authentic way. There was a research project by Duke University that was published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2008. It set out to see if it could measure what a brand does for consumers. Could Apple really make you feel more creative? They compared Apple to IBM as a controlled test pairs. Subjects were presented with a split screen. What they saw was a flash of a logo for a half of a second. Half of the test group was repeatedly shown the Apple logo, the other half, the IBM logo. Afterward, the subjects were given a creative challenge. It was to come up with as many uses for a brick that didn’t pertain to making a building. Independent researchers were to judge the answers based on how creative they were. The results: The group that had been exposed to the Apple logo came up with 30% more uses for a brick that the group shown only the IBM logo. The independent judges also rated the Apple group more unique and creative than the other. The same test was done with Disney and E! (Disney’s brand represented honesty) The group was asked to answer true or false on a battery of questions. The same results: Those shown only the Disney logo overwhelmingly answered their questions with more honesty than the group shown only E! logo.

So what does this prove? It does support that brands DO inspire or create certain kinds of feelings and emotions in consumers. Branding is that simple and that hard. Don’t let anyone kid you, if done right, branding is hard. If they tell you it’s easy, either they don’t know what they’re talking about or they are much smarter than I am. Just like in martial arts, if some one tells me they can get a black belt from any style in less than 3.5 to 4 years, it’s not worth much. They would be better off going to the local martial arts supply store and buy their black belt for $5. It’s cheaper and the results are the same. The same is true about branding. Branding is not a program, it’s not about money, but it’s about a state of mind.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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