The brand goes in before the brand goes on

In developing brand platforms and brand applications it always helps to have a concise brand strategy directive at hand, to keep things aligned. One that I favor is this:

The brand goes in before the brand goes on.

This directive is easy to remember and anchors the brand in company values, principles and operations, where its true strength lies. It defines the brand as a method of value creation, consistent with the brand mission, and not as an after-the-fact add-on. What counts is what the company puts into the brand and the desired brand relationship.

Why this brand directive works for me

Here are a few more reasons why I like this particular directive:

  1. It’s strategic. It reminds us that the brand result depends on what we do upstream in product development. In other words, “brand in, brand out.” A development and production process governed by brand values will create products rich in those values. We’re talking about the brand value chain, and the brand value of kaizen.
  2. It recognizes that brand strategy is innovation strategy. If we expect our brands to change the customer’s world, then we better be developing world-changing products.
  3. It considers the brand to be a single application. Brands are much more than symbols and slogans. They’re customer-focused applications of company vision and values.  We develop brands to advance customers beyond the reach of competitors. What we design  into the brand now can have long-term rewards as the application takes root.
  4. It creates brand authenticity. When your brand goes in before the brand goes on, your brand is authentically you.
  5. It reminds us that brands are not campaigns. Brands are the stuff that companies are made of. Campaigns come and go. The customer take-away from your brand is what you put into it.

Brands can be methods to create value, or campaigns to sell perceptions. Which brand would you buy?


Photo credit:  Bill Gracey — Flickr

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