The key ingredient
Branding, the art of distinguishing one product from the glut in an overstimulated marketplace, relies upon strategy, observation, design, planning, and the intelligent use of marketing skills. There is another key ingredient, too often overlooked, that makes the difference between a great brand and a mere commodity. What is it? Vision coupled with commitment.
Look at any great brand, or even more broadly, any worthwhile accomplishment.
Before the Empire State Building, what existed? Vision. How did this vision come into existence? Commitment and tenacity.
If twenty-plus years ago, someone had proposed: "I’ve developed a sci-fi movie trilogy that
people of all ages and nations will want to see. It has heroes, villains, mystical concepts and neat special effects," I’m sure executives would have laughed him out of the office. Fortunately, George Lucas stuck with his vision, making Star Wars one of the top-grossing movies of all time.
James Cameron did the same with Titanic, breaking all-time records.
So did the executive who single-handedly developed the hugely successful, new and improved VW bug as did Steve Jobs with the iMac, making it at the time the most successful computer launch to date, with some 280,000 advance orders before the product was even released.
Challenging conventional wisdom
Being short-sighted in branding, as well as in life, is as avoidable a shortcoming as poor manners at a formal dining engagement. How bad can this become? Look at these "famous last words" and you be the judge.
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."—Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year."—The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957
"But what... is it good for?"—Commenting on the microchip, an engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."—Ken Olson, President, Chairman and Founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
"This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."—Western Union internal memo, 1876
"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"—David Sarnoff’s associates, in response to his urging for investment in the radio during the 1920s
"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible."—A Yale University management professor, in response to Fred Smith’s paper
proposing reliable overnight delivery service (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.).
"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" — H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927 (Good thing no-one listened to him)
"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes
crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."—Response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies
"We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."—Decca Recording Company, rejecting the Beatles, 1962
"If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full
of examples that said you can’t do this."—Spencer Silver, on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads
"So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some
of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.’" — Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs, on attempts to get Atari and HP interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer
"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles?
It can’t be done. It’s just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training."—Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus
"Everything that can be invented has been invented."—Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899 (In 1899, there were 25,527 patents and today, there are well more than 7,000,000 from what we can ascertain)
"640K ought to be enough for anybody."— Bill Gates, 1981
Great brands begin with a dream and a vision first, and the willingness to see them through.
Remember this next time someone looks at you cross-eyed about a new idea. That’s where branding comes in—and how you create something the consumer will not only want, but demand.
Here are some of my favorite quotes that apply equally to life as they do to branding. I thought I would share them here, so you're overly cynical about other people's lack of foresight:
David Brier, Chief Gravity Defyer at DBD
International, is the recipient of over 300 industry awards creating
brands for such company's as Estee Lauder, Revlon, New York City
Chocolates, Sunbelt Software and many more.
Award-winning and result-driven examples can be seen at http://www.risingabovethenoise.com and a side-by-side comparison of before-and after-client identites can be seen at http://www.famousnapkins.com
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