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You’ve got to have Sole 18th February 2015

Sat in the middle of our website homepage is a very clear statement.

‘At I-AM we help you stand out from your competitors by connecting with your customers not only rationally – but emotionally. We work with you to define the experience you offer your customers when they come into contact with your brand’

Strong stuff, but it’s what we wholeheartedly believe makes the difference between a successful business and a successful brand. This is not a play on words but a way of looking at the problem that ensures people are loyal to the brand not just its products.

Philip Koetler of the Kellogg Business School succinctly made the point that the art of marketing is the art of brand building. If you are not a brand then you are a commodity where price is everything and the low cost producer is the only winner. Ultimately of course the only winner is the customer.

Few organisations understand the difference between Brand Management and Brand Leadership. Brand leadership has to be understood and driven from the top with management of the brand a responsibility of every line manager in the organisation.

Brand Management thinks short term, leadership thinks long term. Management is constantly working on product value while leadership concerns itself with share value. Management is driven to meet sales targets while leadership steers a course for loyalty.

It’s also worth remembering who your customers are and what makes them tick.

The core of consumers currently splashing the cash are of the Millennial Generation, identified in research by SMG/BCG/Barkley to be technology reliant, image driven, multi-tasking, open to change, confident, team oriented, information rich, impatient and adaptable. A generation of hard task masters then, but important to note a generation all too aware of the value of image and perception, easily influenced by the crowd or the rich seam of information on brands and products at their fingertips.

So then Brand beats product every time, in fashion with a loyal customer base, you can be forgiven one or two bad product calls, mistakes are the price of success.

In technology we have recently witnessed Apple not always getting new products right and having to withdraw them but quickly forgiven as the brand machine rolls on and why Christian Louboutin fought tooth and nail to protect his patented red sole, it’s not about products it’s about the brand promise, with an instantly recognisable signature that says trust us, we won’t let you down.

The first stage of our Brand building process is the BRAND KEY which focuses management on the importance of telling their story not about the range of products they sell.

A final quote that sums it up for me is from Rolf Jensen of the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies when he observed that, ‘Companies used to be about product producers, now they must be meaning brokers’.

Some may think a rather extreme point of view but I would suggest that you only have to watch a couple of television car adverts to understand where he is coming from.