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Fighting The Good Brand Fight

A recent study of brands showed a significant drop in brand awareness and brand preference since 2004 for all but a select group of brands. When they studied the brands that increased in measurable brand metrics, they found that these brands had  brand energy. Brand energy came about from clear differentiation and relevance.

Many have poo-poo’d the concept, but anyone involved in branding knows what brand energy is through direct experience. Some brands just seem magnetic. Malcolm Gladwell identified this as  “stickiness” in his landmark The Tipping Point.

When you have a hot brand it attracts customers quicker and more easily. Guy Kawasaki described this in his book The Macintosh Way about the early days of Apple as not finding customers as much as finding brand evangelists. Apple is clearly a relevant and differentiated, and certainly one with brand energy.

So, what does it take to energize your brand? The #1 ingredient found by the researchers was a clear vision and/or values attached to the brand. That’s right, people want to know what the brand is “all about.”

I’ve seen this in the university classes  I teach. Today’s student, a member of the demographic so many marketers are interested in, wants a brand they support to be more than just the product. They want brands to stand for something. It could be quality, or the environment. It might be integrity, or technology. Or it might just be that the brand values people.

So, what does your brand stand for. What, beyond the ordinary, is it “all about.”

I think back to a sandwich shop near the home I lived in when I first got married. They had pictures of every local youth sports team, and they were a sponsor of them all. Sure it was a way to get lots of kids to come in. But it was more than that. It said to patrons, we care about kids, we care about the community, and we care about helping this be a better place to live.

That little sandwich has, over the past 20 years, gone from being a little hole-in-the-wall to a big restaurant, catering to multiple generations of residents. My wife and I still occasionally drive 45 minutes just to get their sandwiches.

What does your brand stand for? Pick a good fight, then fight the good fight. Your customers will love you for it!

Categories: branding
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