James Surowiecki's column in The New York last week, Twilight of the Brands, seemed to suggest that brands are dying. He argued that the usefulness of brands as decreased given that "consumers are supremely well informed and far more likely to investigate the real value of products than to rely on logos."
His observations about people’s orientation and decision-making are spot on – but I come to a different conclusion. Instead of seeing the current market environment as ushering in the “twilight” of brands, I view it as a call to arms. Brands and brand-building are more important now than ever before.
I hold this different – and hopefully more instructive and insightful – perspective because I view a brand as far more than a label or logo. A brand is the bundle of values and attributes that define the unique value an organization delivers to customers and the unique way the organization operates. A brand is a strategic platform for managing and growing a business.
In the research I conducted for my new book, What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles That Separate the Best from the Rest, I discovered that this understanding and use of a brand is what distinguishes great brands. Instead of external images to promote or messages to communicate – which, as Surowiecki points out, produces a diminishing return today – brands are management tools that leaders use to fuel, align, and guide everything their organizations do.
When I look at the world today, I see tremendous opportunity for brands to create real, sustainable value for customers and companies alike. ChangeThis just published my manifesto in which I explain the developments that are influencing brand-building today and what great brands are doing about them. Please download the manifesto, A Brand-Builder’s Guide to the Universe: 17 Ways to Build a Great Brand Today – and let me know if you agree.