I occasionally talk about branding and how vital it is when your
product isn’t sufficiently different than your competitors (early on is
this blog I preached Blue Ocean Strategies). For small business owners
or entrepreneurs the way you define your brand can be the difference
between making and failing. Actually, the worst thing to do is to
ignore your brand efforts altogether.
The NY Times ran a piece the other day called Message in What We Buy, but Nobody’s Listening by JOHN TIERNEY.
Its a well written synapses of why brands matter and why competitors
can exist in a marketplace without being a low cost leader. Here is an
excerpt that I liked particularly.
Suppose, during a date, you casually say, “The sugar maples in
Harvard Yard were so beautiful every fall term.” Here’s what you’re
signaling, as translated by Dr. Miller:
“My S.A.T. scores were
sufficiently high (roughly 720 out of 800) that I could get admitted,
so my I.Q. is above 135, and I had sufficient conscientiousness,
emotional stability and intellectual openness to pass my classes. Plus,
I can recognize a tree.”
I take from reading this article is that a specific story is what you
want to tell with your product. It can be one of aggressiveness or
conscientiousness or something else, but it has to be purposeful.
But if you want to avoid falling for these traps as a consumer remember:
The grand edifice of brand-name consumerism rests on the
narcissistic fantasy that everyone else cares about what we buy. (It’s
no accident that narcissistic teenagers are the most brand-obsessed
consumers.) But who else even notices? Can you remember what your
partner or your best friend was wearing the day before yesterday? Or
what kind of watch your boss has?
A Harvard diploma might help
get you a date or a job interview, but what you say during the date or
conversation will make the difference. An elegantly thin Skagen watch
might send a signal to a stranger at a cocktail party or in an airport
lounge, but even if it were noticed, anyone who talked to you for just
a few minutes would get a much better gauge of your intelligence and
“But who else even notices?” – So true.