In my perpetual quest to distill the mission and modes of brand building, I’m updating this earlier post. It’s a manifesto (sort-of) for value-based brands.
You’ll notice some major differences between this approach and those of traditional brand practice.
What brands do
Brands create customers. They lead them to new levels of awareness, new shapes of self, new realms of achievement, new forms of being and doing. This is important because your customers are your greatest competitive weapon. How your brands create and grow customers determines the long-term success of your business.
Brands are company potential X customer potential
Brands multiply the potential of your company by the potential of your customers. They are company potential X customer potential: the brand exponential. Brands can raise your customer relationship from a simple two-way street to vibrant avenues of innovation. These can open new markets and leave competitors far behind.
Brands are value-based
Brands are value-based: they deliver value customers can use, in an infinite variety of forms. Brands are much more than traditional signs, symbols, spectacle, messages, gestures and concocted “brand personalities.” Often, these only alienate a business from its customer potential.
Brands are enablers
Your brand is more enabler than meme. It enables customers to go where they want to go, and to do more, and be more, through you. This is a creative nexus that can plumb all human dimensions. A good balance is 80% means, 20% meme. We are now in the third phase of brand evolution: from mark, to media, to means.
Brands free customers to grow
Your brand frees customers to grow, and to take you with them, using the programs and platforms you provide. Your brand strategy is your growth strategy.
Brands break down barriers for customers. They cut across boundaries, leap walls, undercut silos, disrupt hierarchies. The best brands liberate customers to flourish on more creative and more productive levels. Customers can feel the difference—in a heartbeat.
Brand building is a form of innovation
Brands are avenues of value innovation in a creative engagement between companies and their customers. Brand building itself is a form of innovation. Brand builders are customer-side innovators, working closely with innovators on the product side, and with customers themselves. Brand builders innovate in the context of customers, and deep, deep, deep in the context of culture.
Brands aimed at “consumers” head downhill
Brands predicated on passive “consumers” have nowhere to go but down—to the lowest common denominator. They impose a strategic cap on themselves because they position consumers as commodities. They’re a commodity proposition, not a brand proposition. They are no match for brands predicated on customers: proactive partners and co-creators of brand value.
Brands are action-focused
Brands induce action. They are not a glossy coat, a dreamy myth, or a doctrine of belief that locks customers in place. Brands are a system for getting things done.
Brands have a sense of urgency. They flourish in the here and now. They perform, and they’re measured by what they do.
The brand mission
The brand mission can be refined to a simple, three-part directive: Grow the customer, grow the brand, grow the business. That’s what brand builders do. Their job is to grow your customers beyond the reach of competitors.
Why brand builders matter
Brand builders can see a company’s future through its customers’ eyes. There is no greater gift, or source of advantage.
The best way to make your products fly off the shelf is to give wings to your customers. Your brand is their ticket to fly.