What Makes a Brand Great
Denise Lee Yohn knows what makes a brand great. With twenty-five years of experience building some of the world’s greatest brands, she knows the strategies that work. Whether Burger King, Land Rover, Jack-In-the-Box, Spiegel, or Sony Electronics, Denise has knows the principles that make a great brand. Her book on branding is a must read: What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest.
If you think branding is a logo or an advertising campaign, think again. You may think you don’t “do” branding, but then you will miss learning some incredibly important business ideas—because corporate branding means more, and all of us have a personal brand.
Denise, when most people think of branding, they think of a television commercial, an internet ad or a new logo. It’s ironic to me that branding itself is not branded properly. Your book completely redefines what great branding is. Why do most people have the wrong impression about branding?
Branding actually refers to the practice of putting a symbol on a thing – ranchers used to brand their cattle with a unique mark to indicate their ownership. The practice was then adopted by companies selling products. They developed logos to put on their products to distinguish them and to signal which companies made them. Over time these symbols became cues of product quality and meaning – people would assume a product from a particular company had a level of quality consistent with the company’s past or other products, and they would attribute some meaning to it when they associated the logo with it. Marketers worked hard to develop compelling logos and strong positive associations with them.
So technically the understanding of branding as a business practice is still correct, but it’s clear that the value of branding has diminished. It’s no longer enough to develop a creative logo or to launch clever marketing campaigns to express what your brand stands for. Companies must execute on their brand identities too. Today’s savvy customers can see through a branding veneer, so a company must translate its brand vision into customer reality.
Let’s touch on a few of your branding principles to give a flavor for your unique approach to brand-building. The first is great brands start inside—with culture. Why is organizational culture the starting point?
Culture is the necessary first step when you want to define or re-define your brand because culture is what ensures your employees understand and embrace what your brand stands for and understand their roles in interpreting and reinforcing your brand. So great brands rally their people around common cultural values and use their brands to focus, align, and optimize the inner workings of their organizations.