Brand

A product is generic – carrots, computers, phones. A brand gives the product an identity, a personality, an emotional connection, or even a call to action.

Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos: “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard thingswell.”

Designer, Tommy Hilfiger: “I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Iwanted to build some kind of lifestyle brand that was preppy and cool.”

Actress, Katherine Hepburn: “My greatest strength is common sense.I’m really a standard brand – like Campbell’s tomato soup or Baker’s chocolate.”

What emotion do you feel when you see Disney’s Mickey Mouse symbol? Do thoughts of childhood, good times or an especially memorable trip come to mind? That is what a great brand does. Here are some more examples:

  • The brand name Quaker Oats was created to evoke the simple, true values of the Quaker people.
  • ESPN today connotes sports, action, something happening, movement, 24/7.
  • Apple has evolved from being a maverick, to a stylish, elegant,easy to use eco-system with just a hint of exclusivity.
  • Brands can also be tied to a personality such as Rachael Ray and Emeril LaGasse in cooking and Richard Branson in just about all Virgin products.
  • Over time some brands can become synonymous with a category; for example Kleenex and Xerox and perhaps now even Google.

According to Professor Dobie, the cardinal rule to branding is to be different and memorable.

A brand must also look and feel the same way everywhere, in every medium. Branding encompasses positioning, packaging, a name and pricing.

Some rules of thumb for a good brand name are:

  • Short (IBM, BMW)
  • Distinct (Google, Yahoo, Mustang)
  • Sounds good (Zara, Virgin, Disney)
  • Suggests a compelling benefit or feature (Facebook, Home Depot, Sunkist Oranges, Spic N’ Span cleaner)
  • Breaks the rules (Red Bull)
  • Easy to say, to spell and recall (Tide soap, Crest toothpaste)
  • But make sure that the name does not mean something bad in another language. (The classic case is the introduction of the Chevy Nova in South America. Nova means “it doesn’t go.” Oops.)

A tagline to the brand will at times become an integral part of the brand. Sometimes it explains the benefit and at other times it captures the image of the brand memorably. Some of the most memorable taglines according to a Forbes article are:

  1. BMW: Ultimate Driving Machine
  2. Nike: Just Do It
  3. American Express: Don’t Leave Home Without It
  4. Avis: We Try Harder
  5. California Milk Processor Board: Got Milk?
  6. Apple: Think Different
  7. U.S. Marines: The Few. The Proud. The Marines
  8. McDonald’s: You Deserve A Break Today
  9. DeBeers: A Diamond Is Forever
  10. MasterCard: There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy. For Everything Else, There’s MasterCard

These are indeed memorable taglines. They capture the benefits and even more importantly the emotional and social benefits of the brands extraordinarily well. Many years ago, when people found out that I was President of the company that owned Rice-A-Roni, they would joyously break out into song: “Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco Treat.”

Those memories still make me smile. Talk about a tagline.

Finally, you must execute all the elements consistently. Apple does this extraordinarily well. Their products are stylish and appear to work seamlessly together. The packaging has the same feel: sophisticated and understated, providing confidence that everything will just work.

Apple’s website is clean and makes it easy to find what you are looking for. Their stylish stores, with the open glass look, both welcome a person and make it easy for them to buy something. Every channel delivers the same consistent message.

What is your brand and its tagline going to be?

Verinder Syal, Author: Discover The Entrepreneur Within

Written by Verinder Syal
Verinder is the Principal at Thoughtful Simplicity, an award-winning teacher at Northwestern University, and the author of Discover The Entrepreneur Within.