As the saying goes – “A rose by any other name, will smell just as sweet”… But here’s where the similarities ends. So what makes my rose different to yours, or anybody’s for that matter. Why is my rose special compared to all the other roses out there? Well, for one thing that it isn’t, it’s the stamping of a red-hot metal “brand” onto the rear quarters of a cattle to identify which cattle belongs to you, and which doesn’t.
Branding used to be associated with naming a product. You don’t go around asking to buy “bread”. You ask for a specific brand of bread. Likewise, you don’t go around asking to buy a “car”. You choose a specific model from a reputable manufacturer. You don’t ask for a generic (nameless) product. Instead, you ask for a “branded” product from a “branded” manufacturer. Here, it is clearly visible that the brand is used to identify a particular product, or its manufacturer. The brand itself is the identity. If a certain product (or organisation) gains a formidable reputation, it’s the brand name that’s being associated with this reputation, not the product.
So how important is a brand?… Well, take a look at some of the samples below, and then see if you can answer that question yourself.
IMPORTANT – The copyright of the brand names and logos below belong to their respective owners. The usage of the names and logos here are merely as an illustration for the sake of discussion only.
Now, everybody recognises these logos and their associated brand names. But what most people don’t know is that these companies spent a lot of time, effort and money to build their names to what they are today.
Behind each logo and name is the reputation that is associated with a world-class company which develop and produced quality products or renders quality services. Some of them have grown to such a level that the name itself is worth so much more than just to identify the product or service that they’re selling.
One classic example is Fraser And Neave Limited. Now, not many people (especially the younger generation) would know about this company. One of the more successful brands that’s produced by this company is none other than Coca-Cola soft drink. The brand “Coke” is so successful that people don’t go around ordering a “cola soft drink” anymore… They’ll simply ask for a “Coke”.
Now, I know that some of you out there would probably say “… but Pepsi is tastier than Coke”. Let’s just dissociate this discussion with the subjective taste-buds of individuals. That’s not what we’re trying to discuss here anyway. Personally, I’m not much of a fizzy drink lover myself, but the name “Coke” is so successful that we simply can’t ignore it at all.
Some of these brands are so successful that they’re not longer simply associated with the product alone, but have graduated to represent a lifestyle instead. Humans are social beings, and as such, a sense of belonging to a certain group will help heighten their social status. This is especially true if that particular “group” is being associated with a certain elite status.
Let’s take the example of the brand Dunhill – It all started when British American Tobacco came out with a brand of cigarettes by that name. Being positioned as a luxurious brand above other brands in the market, smokers of this brand will see themselves as being “elite” when compared to smokers of other brands.
Of course, with the advent of a more health conscious society today, the product (together with other cigarette brands) are being looked upon as nothing more than what they really are – cancer sticks. So by moving away from being associated with something “bad” in the eyes of the society, the already successful brand “Dunhill” was used to associate with a host of products that spelt out class of a sophisticated and successful gentleman. Products ranging from men’s fashion, leather goods, time pieces, writing instruments, fragrances, and a host of other things that show that the man is “stylish” and “sophisticated”.
Who cares if the stylish sport jacket, leather suitcase, gold wrist watch, silk tie and cologne worn by the man is OEM by a third party manufacturer? As long as it carries the “Dunhill” brand name, it spells class… And that’s the power of branding.
So how do you go about building an empire out of your brand? Well, first and foremost, you have to understand that branding isn’t an overnight process. It takes years, sometimes decades to build a reputable brand in the eyes of the public. But once you have reached the “reputable” level, you can almost sell anything that’s carrying that brand of yours.
Well, who would think of Pepsi jeans? Or even Jaguar leather shoes? Adidas toiletries? Caterpillar Shoes?… The possibilities are endless. Maybe one day we’ll see even Virgin Atlantic sports wear, Mont Blanc cologne, Toyota cola beverage, Rolex golf accessories, etc