I recently came across a quote from 8-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman that made me think about brand building blocks. The guy’s undeniably got a way with words:
“Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder. But nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weights.”
When I present to or train brand leaders, I’ll often ask them what they hope to achieve with their branding efforts. Almost always, I’ll hear some variation of the following:
“I want our brand to be like Nike – everyone knows them!”
“Starbucks and Coke are everywhere, and we should be too!”
“Some people get Apple tattoos! I want our brand to be like that!”
Well, of course you want massive awareness, ubiquitous distribution and radical loyalty. That’s not special. What’s special is actually engaging in the behaviors that create those results.
The great brands, the ones that really endure, didn’t just stumble into success. I submit that any great brand possesses (at a minimum) the following brand building blocks:
A vision for a better tomorrow. Great brands start with the idea of improving lives, even in some small way, for some group of people. If you’re not doing at least that much, how do you expect to build any kind of relationship with anyone?
The courage to go it alone. No brand ever achieved greatness by marching in lockstep with the rest of the category. Every great brand – every single one – at some point made a decision to break the rules, to do something meaningfully different from the rest of the pack.
The discipline to stay the course. Great brands are built through consistency, and in no other way. You build a brand by doing something well, again and again, until people come to believe your promise and trust your delivery.
In other words, the great brands have lifted some heavy-ass weights. They’ve demonstrated the rare qualities of vision, courage and discipline. They’ve worked the brand building blocks. They’ve earned it.
How about you? Are you doing the heavy lifting, every day? Or are you just playing it safe, following the herd, and daydreaming about being Nike?
About Matthew Fenton: Matthew helps challenger brands to focus, grow and win. Since founding his consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, in 1997, he’s helped hundreds of brands to achieve “brand clarity.” His consulting services and speaking engagements help brands to focus on what matters through positioning, strategy and ideation. Contact Matthew here. He calls Chicago home.
Copyright 2013 – Matthew Fenton. All Rights Reserved. You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.