The Brand! It’s All About The Brand!

Remember the Pepsi Challenge way back in the dark ages of the 80’s? That was when Pepsi performed  blind taste tests with real people having them take drinks from two identical cups of soda, one filled with  Pepsi and the other Coke? And remember that Pepsi won, as most people said that Pepsi was better tasting than Coke? (experts said it was because Pepsi was sweeter than Coke and we all love sweet!) Anyway, Pepsi won the challenge. Do you remember what happened then? Coke responded by coming out with New Coke. Remember what a disaster that was as people realized that with the coming of New Coke came the demise of the Coke they had known and loved for years? And they rebelled! Coke had to apologize and bring back what they now called “Classic Coke.”

Now here is the interesting part of the story. Even though people claimed that they preferred the taste of Pepsi over Coke, they still preferred to drink Coke to the point that when all was said and done Classic Coke became the best-selling soda in the world.

Why was that? Simple, people liked the Coke brand, to the point that they liked the brand better than the actual soda. They felt better being a Coke person than a Pepsi person, which in the end is what branding is all about.

To further prove my point let’s talk about another beverage, let’s talk about Guinness. I am convinced that no one in their right mind likes the taste and yes feel of Guinness. I was once in the oldest Pub in Belfast Northern Ireland with a friend of mine who lived there. Once we sidled up to the bar, he actually said to me, “I hate this s##t but tradition has it that when you are in this pub for the first time you have to have a glass of Guinness and he proceeded to order us two of the smallest glasses of beer I have ever seen. In the end I believe that no one likes the taste of Guinness, they just think it’s cool to order it and drink it. And they love the whole BS ritual of the slooooow pour. They love being part of the Guinness brand tribe.

What is your brand? Is it so strong that your customers will follow anywhere so they can be part of your brand tribe?

“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers”. AMA ( American Marketing Association)

Here are some ideas on branding from a very cool new book I am reading called interestingly enough, The Non-Obvious Guide to Marketing and Branding by Rohit Bhargava.

Author Bhargava talks a lot about the value and importance of brand consistency and ways to define your brand. Here from the book are some guidelines to developing a strong brand:

  • A brand is a way to identify your products and services as distinct from the competition.
  • Consistency is the most important tactic to building a strong brand.
  • There are a total of eight types of brand names:
    • Familial: Personal and authentic.  Based on the name of the founder. (Ben and Jerry’s, MacDonald’s)
    • Logical: Based on the product and services you sell.  (Burger King, Blinds).
    • Benefit Focused: Based on the benefits of dealing with your company. (Best Buy, Rubber Maid)
    • Geographic: Based on where you come from. (North Face, Credit Suisse)
    • Thematic: Based on recognizable word or phrase. (Tide, Glad)
    • Mashup: Based on a combination of words or ideas. (Clearasil, Facebook,)
    • Random:  Random but recognizable words. (Apple, Shell)
    • Domain: Based on the recognizable URL you register. (

The key takeaway here is distinctive. When thinking about the name of your company, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does it truly define what we do?
  • Is it easily recognizable?
  • Is it cool? Do people like being associated enough to want to stay with us?
  • Does it provide pride of ownership? Are our people proud to be part of a company that has our brand?
  • Are you customers proud to be part of your brand tribe?

Remember that you can build a brand around any name. You can choose any name and go with that name. But if you choose the right name, if you really put some good thought and effort into the name of your company your brand will be much more substantial and self-defining. Truth be known Choosing the right name for your company actually represents half the battle of brand development.

And one more thing. The development of the right brand is appropriate and important for all companies no matter the market or the industry. When you are competing with other companies it is important to stand out from the herd and the best way to do that is develop and most importantly to live your brand!

It’s only common sense.