“Don’t let the smooth taste fool you.”
– Originally from Colt 45, but told to me by WD Hall, White Plains, NY
After the toughest kid in school decided to beat up Derrick, he could no longer negotiate. His attempts to avoid the fight were taken as him trying to “talk his way out of it.” Rather than make peace and avoid the fight, Derrick’s opponent was emboldened and lashed out. Needless to say, this would be his opponent’s last fight.
In something resembling an old western movie, Derrick actually swept the table with this guy, clanging dishes, making clatter, and letting the whole world see not to mess with him.
In this case, Derrick not only won a fight, but also he developed a brand. “Branding” & “Brand” are misunderstood marketing terms. Some people call a logo a brand. Some call a slogan a brand. Some call the name of the company a brand.
But a Brand is the emotional relationship a prospect or client has with you, your product, or your company. A simple definition is “the promise.” Derrick’s promise: Fight with me and you will lose and be humiliated.
No one fought Derrick for the next 5 years.
The Mafia, which was discussed earlier as a powerful gang was also known as a brand. Today, movies which glamorize the mob are everywhere. Video games like Hit Man, and wines featuring gangsters are on the market. The Mafia’s main strength was that people knew its brand. People knew they would get into trouble if they crossed them. It was their promise.
How did they do it? Well, the Mob was willing to do things no one else was willing to do. It was able to control politicians and police. And in doing that, they took great risks. We’ve all read about police chiefs being gunned down and politicians being killed. If they were willing to kill a cop, wouldn’t they have no problem (e.g.) burning down my shop? In taking those risks the Mob was able to leverage its small numbers and appear much bigger. The Mob brand made negotiations with unions and civilians much easier.
Often, a simple conversation in which a Mob boss asked for a favor was all it took.
As mentioned before, their brand was so strong that people who knew nothing about the organization would want to “play” mob. A hat, an accent and a silk suit were all you needed.
Today, there is a lot of discussion about brands and branding. Firms should be concerned, because at the end of the day, your brand and market position are all you have. Modern brands now control markets everywhere.
We look at Starbucks not as coffee, but as a lifestyle decision. My state, Colorado, has a very strong brand. People associate it with beautiful scenery, healthy living, clean air, good water, mountain music, skiing and friendly attractive people.
But brands can change. People are now associating Colorado with Marijuana (the first state to legalize Marijuana for recreational use). We have had school shootings in Colorado (Columbine for example in the 1990’s) that can tarnish the brand. The traffic has gotten horrible due to migrations of people to Denver.
So, when you talk branding, talk about building and protecting a brand. Make sure your strategy includes coming up with the brand and an ongoing, deliberate strategy to protect it (protect the promise).