I love the art and science of branding. Whether it’s designing a new logo or coming up with a new tag-line, branding can be fun. Yet in all the marketing hoopla, what makes a great brand? What makes you decide to buy one cup of coffee over another. Why do you drive your brand of car, drink your kind of soda, or shop at the store that you do?
I’ve done some research and read a few books on this subject. I think you can boil down a great brand into five different areas. While there are many factors, these five really define a key brand from an also-ran.
1. Backstory. A great brand always has a story. It might be Ray Kroc at McDonalds, figuring out a way to franchise hamburgers or Howard Schultz at Starbucks, developing a way to get a great cup of coffee to the masses. It could be the inventiveness of a Thomas Edison at G.E. When we are deciding on a brand, knowing where they came from and what they stand for, really helps us make a decision.
2. Routine or Ritual. When you first walk into a Starbucks, you might not know what is going on. There are strange words on the menu… Vente, Grande, Tall, and the people behind the counter are called barristas. The person in line ahead of you orders a “Captain Crunch,” a strawberries and creme frappuccino, with a shot of caramel, two shots of toffee, one shot of hazelnut, and two scoops of chocolate chips – and you look at the menu in puzzlement. Where is that, you wonder? You have just experienced the ritual of Starbucks. Certainly different from the ritual you’ll find at a McDonalds. The things we do when we interact with a brand, really affect our experience. If it is good, we’ll be back. If it is difficult and complicated, we might not.
3. Advantages. Great brands usually have an advantage over their competitors. When I go to a McDonalds, I can order a senior coffee for 65 cents. Starbucks doesn’t offer this. Yet the Starbucks offers a comfortable atmosphere with sofas, tables, and a power outlet where I can plug in my laptop. Each has their advantages, and I’ll make my decision depending on my needs. Great brands differentiate themselves from the crowd.
4. Names. Whether it be the founder, the CEO, or someone representing the company, Great brands have great names. Steve Jobs is Apple, Michael Jordan is Nike, Ronald McDonald represents the golden arches, and San Walton is instantly recognizable with WalMart.They also have clever and easily to remember names of products and services. We all know what a Big Mac is, and who hasn’t heard about an iPad, iPhone, or iPod. Names and tag-lines bring us back to a product time after time.
5. Design. Great brands have great design. Hold an iPad in your hands, and the light weight and smooth rounded corners make it comfortable in your hands. Walk into a brightly lit Target store, with it’s recognizable icon and distinctive red and white colors, and you’ll feel instantly alive. Pull up to a McDonalds and try and resist their brightly lit menu boards with all sorts of tempting treats. Great brands have recognizable icons, products, and experiences.
Overall, a brand is a combination of many things.
When you tie together
You have a winning combination.
Question: What makes your brand unique?