How to Win in Brand Land

by David Anderson

People love successful Brands. But why? What do successful Brands have in common?

Why is so much money spent on developing them, and what is it that makes a good one so successful? The truth is, it’s not all that tough. A Little art and a little science. But, if you learn the basics and follow a reasonable roadmap, your brand will have a chance to thrive – and its power will be evident in not only your sales results, but the long-term value of the overall company as well.

The Bottom Line…

Here is the bottom line on great Brands. They make companies more valuable. Period. End of story. Not necessarily more profitable, but way more valuable. That’s the main reason to invest and build a Brand. It makes the company more viable, more powerful and ultimately, more valuable.

Witness Gulfstream Aerospace. In 1994, New York Financier Teddy Forstmann made a deal with Lee Iacocca and Chrysler to buy the venerable executive jet company for $400M. Forstmann invested millions in cash reviving the brand – and the company.
And it paid off. In 2000, Forstmann sold it to General Dynamics for $5.2B. With a B.

Take Coca-Cola for example. Today, Coke enjoys a market cap of $168.7 billion dollars. Do you know what the first 160 billion is? It’s the global value of the brand. That’s it. The rest is relative pennies for syrup, production, distribution and management and sales. Just imagine the value and power of that Brand. Mind boggling. There’s almost nothing that brand can’t do.

It’s told that when Coca-Cola bought Columbia Pictures in Hollywood, a proud member of the Columbia management team commented to a Coke Executive, “We did almost $700 million in sales last year.” The Coca-Cola executive took a beat and then was reported to say, “we did that in Fanta Grape alone.”

But past the sheer wealth creation, there are also a number of cultural reasons to build a great Brand as well.

Overtime, brands enter our lives and become trusted advisors. They give us permission to buy the things we want. They say something about us when we buy them. We associate with them on a personal level. We buy them with confidence. Witness Honda, Mercedes or Apple.

The truth is, your brand – not your advertising campaign or your logo – is your ultimate calling card to the world of consumers. Weather you have a B2B or a consumer brand, your brand says everything about you. About your company. About your products. About your personality. Brands work like a clock. So even when you are not there, the brand is ticking along for you.

Long after Corporate America goes home for the evening, people are still buying Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Marlboro. How come?

So what do Great Brands Have in Common?

We believe all great brands are identified where strategy, culture and quality intersect. That is the brand “sweet spot”. Great brands understand the synthesis between a well-developed strategy, an engaged and faithful culture and superior product delivery.

But apart from the cultural aspects of great brands, what are the unifying aspects to all successful brands?

1. Resonance

Great Brands skillfully address their audience with relevance. They make promises. Great brands hit harmonic chords with their target audience. They are familiar. They are appealing. They are inspiring. Witness the Just Do It, or, Have It Your Way campaigns.

2. Authenticity

Achieving authentic brand status takes time. Levi’s, Budweiser and The New York Times. Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. And they don’t happen over night. They take time and emanate from everything the company does. Everything.

3. Staying Power

Many times companies and individuals loose sight of the fact that because brands are built over time, they cost a lot of money. They’re right. They do. The marketing budget for American Express in 2010 was well north of $3.1B. That’s a commitment. Building brands over time represent a considerable investment. But, the more resources you invest in the right brand, the higher the brand is valued and the greater the return.

4. Consistency

Is it important that once you have s brand created, you give it time to take hold. In our fast society, things go by quickly. It is estimated that we see/hear over 80,000 messages a day. In order to actually fight through that clutter, new technologies must be employed, new messages must be created, but Brands must remain. Don’t get itchy for change. Anything worth anything takes time.