A brand is a business person’s best friend

Gill Sans – Eric Gill’s seminal typeface and as simple and elegant as this little presentation (which is in Tahoma).

A client asked me recently to put together a quick presentation on why brands were a good idea. I bashed this out largely ignoring all Russell’s powerpoint rules.
I think it has a simple (naive even) elegance. See what you think – if you can be bothered to download it.
Download file

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17 Replies to “A brand is a business person’s best friend”

  1. In some cases a brand can cover up lack of substance as well.
    The iPod was an innovation a few years ago but doesn’t really stand up against the latest competitor models in terms of performance – yet it still outperforms them.

  2. Like the Dyson example, and the innocent one.
    Using a brand as a cover up is dangerous though, as it risks causing more long term damage than simply accepting and combating issues in the first place.
    A great example of that is the rise and fall and fall of Sunny Delight.

  3. Great deck.
    if great products make great brands (product including aesthetics, ergonomics and experiences, not just functional data – in all of which which iPod is still considered way superior)
    and if great brands can be overturned overnight by better or more interesting products (Hoover/Dyson, PG/round t-bags)
    then is brand an explanatory fiction?
    cognitive science and other modern psychology is mostly against inventing mental categories (for instance motivation) as if giving something a correlate ‘in peoples heads’ explained anything.
    Google, eBay, Amazon, YouTube, MySpace are maybe better understood as great products which became the standard/habitual choice rather than networks of associations…?
    where I do think brand-ing can defend itself is
    1. shoe-horning an awkward product into a position where it can shine; Red Bull is like a crap concentrated version of Coca-Cola, but it is on the other hand a great pick me up
    2. helping get a product adopted by particular scenes and communities who give it social currency & adopt it as a custom – Red Bull being for ravers, truckers and skaters (being distributed early on in late night garages helped too)
    3. building the experience, aesthetics etc. out into the world for people who havent tried it yet; eg Fruitstock, or Nike test drive pop-up stores (great for products like Free)
    4. extending the aura of cultural currency; it’s the way things are done these days
    probably much more on that list, those just to illustrate
    dunno where this is heading but I guess i have doubts about the traditional definition of a brand on quite a few counts, whilst still believing that there is huge value being created by brand-ing

  4. Rob, with regards to iPod, there is growing anti-movement towards the product and the software but the brand is so strong that it still out sells other MP3s..I do not believe in mutton dressed as lamb and refuse to dress up shoddyness with branding but in Apple’s case this is sort of happening..
    Not all great brands can be overturned by better or more interesting products. I think PS2 still outsells Xbox360 whereas NintendoDS outsells Sony PSP… interesting scenario considering the brands and technology involved.

  5. It was Einstein who said “Physics should be made as simple as possible but not simpler.” I think this presentation demonstrates that well when it comes to brands.
    Considering that all of us will need to make a presentation of this sort at some point, you should slap on a creative commons licence and put it up for other planners and brand-advocates to use.
    Or probably, even allow people to contribute examples, embellish slides, tweak definitions – with you as arbitrer of course. What we’ll end up having is an open source presentation advocating brands that like the best brands isn’t owned by anyone but belongs to its consumers :)

  6. Consider it open source.
    anyone know whether one could do a wiki thing like this with people constantly able to amend an uber presentation?

  7. Rob – is it? From what I know and can gather, the PSP is a miniature PS2 which provides a greater visual experience for the user. Whilst they both offer techy convergence, the PSP has exploited the potential far greater – so much so that its approach is to be emulated by the PS3.
    ‘Honest brand’…not to sure I follow

  8. The DS isnt about graphics, its about the experience, about new ways of playing instead of just ramping up the visuals every time. Its expanded the demographic of gaming in a very very short time.
    The DS can do stripped down PSP games, the PSP cant do DS games.
    As for the “honest” brand, that was about the apple thing of dressing up shoddyness. Nintendo is open about its style and aims, and has a strong brand following for it. Sony is mostly about dressing up the brand for whatever purpose they are aiming at. You’ll find Sony’s great playstation brand is actually far weaker than most think.

  9. Nintendo has a strong brand following in the portable market which has protected it against the technical prowess of the PSP. Which is the point I was making in reference to;
    ‘…and if great brands can be overturned overnight by better or more interesting products (Hoover/Dyson, PG/round t-bags)’
    On the face of it, PSP had the technical/innovative offering to seriously dent the DS, but so far it has failed….
    Ironically, the DS will owe its success to Sony more than itself.

  10. Nintendo has a strong brand following in both markets. Its an extremely loyal group, who follow the company’s message as well as its products.
    And on the ‘face’ of it PSP was more innovative, but it clearly isnt. Dressing the same game up in better graphics is far far less innovative than providing a completely new way to control and play with them. Thats why the DS has captured the imagination of gamers, and PSP has suffered from poor games and weakening sales despite Sony losing money on every one they sell to make it that powerful.
    The DS does not owe it’s success to Sony, but I can see why you mght think that. The DS offered something completely new, it gave people games that no other home or portable system could give them.
    Trust me on this one, its a topic I know in ridiculous detail ;)

  11. Nintendo DS
    Japan – 10.3 million
    US – 5.8 million
    Europe – 6.2 million
    Australia – .2 million
    Canada – .4 million
    Worldwide – 22.9 million
    Japan – 3.9 million
    US – 5.1 million
    Europe – 4 million
    Australia – .15 million
    Canada – .4 million
    Worldwide – 13.37 million
    Without stating the obvious in terms of geographic success, this is not bad going for a brand that has only been in this segment for 2 years Vs 17 years of Nintendo.
    BUT like I said, with the technical superiority of PSP they have been unable to compete with DS. Interesting when you consider that the Gamecube and Xbox languish in 3rd and 2nd place behind sales of PS2 and whilst the PSP is a natural extension of that successful experience -it has failed to fulfil the ultimate promise (sales)
    Is this a case of brand extension gone wrong?

  12. Not on the surface no. But when you consider the 70 odd% market share PS2 has, and the huge losses they make on each console to make it more appealingly priced its actually very poor. Also, its important to note that Nintendo was in its weakest position for about 10 years when DS launched, AND it was an untried, unproven product that went completely against expectation. (People expected just a new Gameboy)
    Its also down to them simply not doing enough to get good games on the system. Most PSP games are pretty much PS2 games, but why would you buy the same game twice?! PS2 won by so much because it had more games than you could get anywhere else.
    The brand extension was a good idea, but the thought and execution behind it was not. Its worked for Nintendo because they didnt give people what they said they wanted, but gave them something they didnt even know they wanted. Not to mention the fact that Nintendo is openly a creative and innovate thinking company, which lends their unusual ideas much credibility in their branding.
    PS3 looks seriously flawed, and the Nintendo Wii is doing to the home market what DS did for handhelds.
    Its a great time to play games!

  13. on a different note it is great to see Nintendo innovate their products and attempt to turn teh category on its head…..once again.
    I remember when I bought an import ‘super famicon’ and not only was the machine groundbreaking, but the games were inspiring – ‘pilotswings’!!!
    I do believe that with the PS3 launch delayed, Wii might actually steal a march on its rivals. It will probably be the only machine that is appealing to my wife!!

  14. This is a great deck, with good examples.
    Analysis over here shows that the strongest brands have both rational and emotional components; and the most sales effective campaigns have both rational and emotional components. More recently, work we’ve done with neuroscientists shows that when people know what the brand is (physical characteristics), what its benefits are, and they have positive feelings about it, it stands a better chance of growing.
    As for whether you need a strong product behind it – the IPA case studies on Stella Artios, showing how poorly it used to do in blind taste tests, shed an interesting light…

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