By pa360, Dec 1 2018 11:23AM
This blog is the third in a three part series on branding. In the first blog we looked at the '7 questions that will define your brand', whilst the second focused on '7 most common brand types'. In this third blog we look at '10 uncommon characteristics of incredibly successful brands'.
So, why is it so important to focus on 'uncommon characteristics'? Well, the reason why brands become incredibly successful is not just because they think the things that others do, it is because they think the things that others haven't thought of yet. An uncommon characteristic therefore, is not what it takes to fit in, it is what is required to stand out. Incredible success, is attributable to the nuance and point of distinction that differentiates a steady pace from rapid acceleration and big steps from giant strides.
Uncommon characteristics are the root system of every incredibly successful brand. They help to sway markets, drive change and deliver exceptional results. However, with or without uncommon characteristics, it is important to note that brands are defined by the lived experience of the consumer, not the artful promotion of the producer. As such, when those with whom your product or service engages, form judgements about it, then those judgements are your brand.
Incredibly successful brands do not develop simply because you work hard, or because you learn lessons, they develop because you do uncommon things. So here are 10 uncommon characteristics of incredibly successful brands.
1. they are relatable
An incredibly successful brand is relatable. As such, even if you cannot possess what it promotes, you can still aspire to what it represents. Take a Ferrari motor car, as a case in point, it is an item of ostentation that most people will never be able afford in their lifetime, but that does not stop people from relating to the brand as something that they should aspire to possess. The uncommon characteristic here is that incredibly successful brands recognise that aspiration is customisable, translatable and transferable.
2. they stay relevant
Relevance differentiates those who succeed from those who remain successful and distinguishes those who were on the journey for the ride those who stayed the course for the reward. To remain relevant, incredibly successful brands are able to master the art of conformity and surf the curve of change. The uncommon characteristic here is that incredibly successful brands are in a constant state of readiness and always anticipate the inevitability of change,
3. they never confuse sphere of reach with extent of impact
In branding, success is not about reach, distribution or even concentration it is about impact. Neither is brand ubiquity, evidence of brand influence. Incredibly successful brands recognise that being everywhere without the influence to shape anything, proves nothing. The measure of a brand's influence is its effect not its visibility. The uncommon characteristic here is that it is better to have a big impact in a small place than to be in a big place with little impact.
4. they understand that an incredible brand sells itself
Ultimately, incredible successful brands sell themselves. That is because, the strength of a brand is the measure of what your customers and competitors say about you long after your marketing and publicity campaigns are over and your budgets have been spent. The uncommon characteristic here is that no matter how much you invest in promoting the power of your brand, the value of word of mouth is always worth much more.
5. they attract imitators and drive innovation
Imitation by itself is not uncommon; but what imitation conveys, is not always commonly appreciated. Few actions will imbue a brand with authenticity, value and status more than those who choose to imitate it. Imitation establishes your brand as the benchmark and validates it as the standard against which others should compare. Similarly, because imitation triggers competition, it will often drive innovation and innovation helps to raise standards even higher. The uncommon characteristic here is that incredibly successful brands don't just actively attract imitators, they often encourage them.
6. they don't just set trends, they send messages
An incredibly successful brand does much more than affect and influence the behaviour of others; it communicates permission, validates choice and affirms action. Incredibly successful brands make a conscious effort to set the agenda and see every engagement as an opportunity to send a message. The uncommon characteristic here is that incredibly successful brands don't just set trends to change behaviour, they set them to drive the narrative.
7. they don't just attribute value to generating sales
In business, strong sales will always be a key measure of the success of an incredibly strong brand. However, the true measure of success is the extent to which you attend to the things that make you successful. I am often reminded of a comment made by the late Steve Jobs, who highlighted that the key to success is to focus on making great product rather than making a profit. The uncommon characteristic here is that, if you invest value, when you make it, others will attribute value when you produce it.
8. they see competition as a test of strength
Incredibly successful brands do not fear competition or opposition. That is because they understand that survivability, in the face of competition, is the truest test of resilience. A brand that faces competition will do one of three things; it will either concede defeat, accept the challenge or raise the stakes. The uncommon characteristic here is that incredibly successful brands find the strength to more forward, even when you try to push them back.
9. they recognise that not all loyalty is transferrable
Do you remember the 'new Coke versus classic Coke' debacle more than thirty years ago? If not, Google it as it is a fascinating account of how an incredibly strong brand can fundamentally rethink its approach, in the face of overwhelming consumer power. The point to note here is that people can develop unwavering personal identification with the brands that they patronise (Apple is another case in point). The uncommon characteristic here is that when people are passionate about your product, their loyalty is not easily transferable.
10. they don't just search for excellence, they seek out mediocrity
The search for excellence is a defining characteristic of incredible successful brands, but it is not an uncommon characteristic. Just as important, but much less common, is the fact that incredibly successful brands actively seek out mediocrity. The reason why is because they recognise that the market-place of mediocrity, is the most fertile environment for growth, expansion and improvement. The uncommon characteristic here is that incredibly successful brands obsess as much about mediocrity, as they do about excellence.
Much as this blog summarises the uncommon characteristics of incredibly successful brands, it is important to underline the fact that a number of these characteristics are scalable. As such a small start-up or medium-sized enterprise, can adopt the same habits and behaviours that will, over time, produce the same results.