Welcome to the belivernomics blog


I will try my best to update this webpage with  thought provoking and interesting content, as often as I can.  Please feel free to leave comments as  there is much that can be learnt from the sharing of ideas.

By pa360, Feb 23 2019 12:59PM

Last week, I attended a leaving party for my dear friend, former colleague, and current Believernomics business partner. It was a terrific event, not just for the turn out of well-wishers, the genuine sentiments expressed by all present, but also for the sheer power of my friend's charisma. I had always known him to be charismatic and had told him so, but I did not fully appreciate the scale nor the extent of his wonderful gift. In fact, so impressed was I by what I observed, that evening, that I felt inspired to write this blog to deconstruct the key characteristics of charisma.

So, why should anyone care about charisma? In simple terms, it is often the 'secret sauce' of success and the key ingredient for a powerful personal brand. It can be the difference between being heard and being believed; being one amongst the many and standing amongst the few; following and leading. Let us be clear, charisma is not like other personal brand characteristics such as reliability, integrity or courage. Quite unlike those characteristics, charisma cannot be acquired, learned or taught. You either have it or you don't and for those that don't have it, you will know it when you see it. So here is my take on the 13 key characteristics of charisma.

1. it attracts others

People often conflate charisma with celebrity, but they are not the same thing. Celebrity can attract others, but if you take away the underpinning activity or event that creates celebrity, the attraction of it will invariably fade as well. By contrast, people with charisma attract others through their affability, manner or other personality traits. As such, the underpinning characteristics of charisma reflect who you are, not the status or position that you have achieved. Another important aspect of the way in which charisma attracts is through the universality of its language. In other words, the language of charisma cuts across demographics and boundaries.

2. it keeps others

With charisma, whilst the ability to attract people is always a very strong measure, it is the ability to 'keep' those you attract that is the higher standard. The relationships that charismatic people cultivate are rarely transient and more likely to be long-lasting and give expression to intense personal loyalty. This ability to maintain enduring relationships ultimately speaks to the quality of those interactions and by extension, the regard to which charismatic people are often held.

3. it is effortless and authentic

Charisma comes naturally and is not something that you can fake, because you either have it or you do not. In that way, I would liken charisma to humour. People who have a natural sense of humour never need try to be funny, they just are. They seem to have an innate sense of what makes people laugh and do it effortlessly, without preparation. So it is with charisma, it requires no effort, because it is not what you learn, it is what you have, because it is who you are.

4. it needs no introduction because it announces itself

Much as you might tell someone that they are charismatic, you are only really stating the obvious to them and others. The point to note here is that charisma speaks for itself; it is the presence that fills the room and the energy that causes others to gravitate towards it. If you have charisma you do not always have to be the most articulate person in the room, nor the one with the most powerful oratory. That is because, charisma also communicates though non verbal cues such as mannerisms, dress sense and idiosyncrasies.

5. it is influential

Charisma is an effective measure of influence and influence is evidence of soft power. Given that charismatic people are in their element when in the company of others, the scope for leveraging influence over them can be far-reaching. In a positive context, charisma can create highly productive relationships and drive change across wide spans of control.

6. it cannot be easily explained

Anyone who says that they can fully or properly explain how charisma works, really does not understand it at all. We often see the effects of charisma and can therefore witness it at work; but there are various intangibles that make it work. These are the things that are often described as the 'X-factor' (ie: the things that you know are there, but cannot see, weigh or measure). If that were not the case, then everyone would be charismatic and all anyone would need to do, to exhibit it, is follow the formula and apply the science.

7. it makes the difference

The fact is that a compelling, well-evidenced argument is often the most effective way to secure a favourable decision and drive an agenda forward. However, in truth, even that may not be enough. By contrast, with charisma, it is often the case that people choose to trust you because they want to trust you and are willing to do so, even when they disagree with you. Truly charismatic people understand this and use this brand 'super-power' effectively to build momentum and get things done.

8. it is mobile

Few brand characteristics are as transferable, or as mobile, as charisma. As a case in point, when people work for a new employer they sometimes worry about the challenge of starting again and the uncertainty associated with forming new relationships and establishing their reputation in a new place. However, this is not something that charismatic people often worry about. The reason for that is because charisma doesn't just work anywhere, it works everywhere.

9. it exudes the 'feel good factor'

At its most potent, charisma has the extraordinary capacity to make people who experience it, feel good or better about themselves. It is impossible to describe the mechanics of this, other than to say that charisma connects with people at an emotional and psychological level and is as much non-verbal as it is verbal. People want to and enjoy being around those who make them feel positive and people who make others feel positive, can much more easily build strong relationships.

10. it leaves a footprint

One of the most common characteristics of people who are charismatic is that they are memorable. Long after the event or interaction, 'charismatics' tend to be remembered by those they come in contact with. Notwithstanding that the interactions themselves might be mundane or uneventful; charisma can make those experiences memorable. With charisma, you will always know where it has been, when you see what it has done.

11. it is spontaneous

The ability to 'freestyle' and think on your feet is an impressive talent. There are some who can do it very effectively, but most cannot. However, it is one of the things that charismatic people do very well. This is because those with charisma are naturally good with people. The bigger and the more diverse the audience, the better they like it and the more comfortable they will be. The capacity to be spontaneous means that people with charisma will be utterly at ease in the presence of strangers as much they are in the company of friends.

12. it has a presence and an aura

If you have ever been in the presence of someone with charisma, you may sense that they have a certain aura about and around them. This is more likely to be evident when they are in the presence of others. An aura, is one of the most important and impactful non-verbal cues of charisma. It is intangible, but can you can feel it; it is invisible, but you know it is there.

13. it listens

One final thing that I have realised from observing my friend, over the years, is that truly charismatic people are also very good listeners. The ability to listen underpins the capacity to learn, Willing listeners are active learners who are better placed to harness and maximise the value of their gifts and talents. This is important because charisma is a brand characteristic. If you do not know what you have then you will not know how to use it and if you do not know how to use it, then it will likely go to waste.

In conclusion, by itself, charisma is not unique. Many people have it and we see evidence of its deployment in politics, business, the media and in everyday situations. Nor is charisma always used positively, by those who possess it, to impact the lives and life experiences of those around them. However, what is beyond dispute is the potency of charisma in establishing a powerful personal brand, a mechanism for inspiring others and a platform for leadership influence.

By pa360, Nov 4 2018 12:35PM

In this second of a three part series on branding, we look at the seven most common types of brand.

Brands are defined by what they do, but more importantly they are defined by how customers perceive, receive and respond to them. Brands are not homogenous constructs. On the contrary, they are multi-faceted and multi-dimensional, with unique characteristics and behaviour patterns that define and drive them.

Brands fall under a number of typologies, with each functioning as its own unique economy. There are brands that are time-defined and those that derive from extreme loyalty as well as others that communicate lifestyle choice, personal vanity and social concerns. For entrepreneurs, the better they understand the classifications and characteristics that define each brand economy, the more effectively they can cultivate customers, compete successfully and increase their market presence. Nothing drives success more than the power of a brand. So here are the seven most common types of brand.

1. the bubble brand

As the name suggests, a bubble brand is one with high impact, concentrated energy and a short life. The motion picture industry is a good example of where this sort of brand is most prevalent. It is well understood that the average life-cycle of a movie, from wide release to final showing, is about 10 weeks. During this 'bubble period' the biggest single point impact will be the film's opening weekend. Thereafter, the grosses will diminish, week-on-week, until newer offerings eventually displace it at the box office. A bubble brand is therefore intended to generate as much impact and as great a value, in as short a time, as possible.

2. the loyalty brand

A loyalty brand is one where consumer allegiance derives from reasons other than the quality or performance of a product or service. Some of the best examples of loyalty brands are in the sporting world, where allegiance to a team or franchise isn't transferable or negotiable. As case in point, in 2018, the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association, finished 15th and last in Eastern Conference. Despite this, during the season, the team still managed to pull an average attendance of 14,400 at their home games. The point to note here is that a loyalty brand is resolute, even in the face of the most negative consumer experience.

3. the endorsement brand

As the name suggests, endorsement is as much a branding technique as a brand in its own right. The purpose of an endorsement is to get the consumer to do something that they probably would not have done, but for the efforts of those who endorse it. A good example of this is when celebrities promote products or services in an effort to imbue them with their own credibility and glamour. However, the most effective and powerful form of endorsement does not come from well-known personalities, but rather from the word of mouth of ordinary consumers who use a product or service, have positive experience and recommend it to others.

4. the lifestyle brand

These brands are most closely identified with the needs, wants and particular preferences of an individual's everyday life. A lifestyle brand is something that speaks to you personally or something that you can customise to reflect your choice and tastes. Examples of this type of brand are tech products such as mobile phones, upon which people rely so heavily to perform every day functions. However, lifestyle brands are also reflected in the places that people regularly go and the things that they routinely do that underpin the rhythm of their daily lives. A good example of this are the restaurants, hairdressing salons and barber shops that people visit.

5. the status brand

A status or vanity brand speaks to the socio-economic statement that a consumer wants to make about themselves, whether or not that statement is accurate. Expensive cars, high-value jewellery, designer clothes and even some tech products are all examples of brands, which are assumed to convey a certain status on those who possess or utilise them.

6. the transferable brand

A transferable brand is one with such a high trust value, that it can be used across a diverse product and service range. One of the best known examples of this is Richard Branson's Virgin brand. Over the years, the Virgin name has been lent to everything from mobile phones and financial services, to multi-media and mass transit. Not dissimilar from an endorsement, a transferable brand, once attached to a product or service, confers value and standing and therefore communicates 'permission' to trust that product or service.

7. the conscience brand

A conscience brand is a form of status branding, where the consumer seeks to make a personal and social statement about the products and services that they procure. However, distinct from a status brand, which can often be a statement of ostentation or vanity, a conscience brand is communitarian and concerned with social welfare. Some examples of this kind of brand include products and services marketed as fair-trade, responsibly sourced or recycled.

In conclusion, a brand is an economy, reflecting the personal, social and commercial preferences of consumers. Whilst some brands intersect, making it possible for businesses to market products and services across boundaries, others are completely unique and require a more sophisticated approach. In the brand economy, the key to success isn't just the quality of your product, it is the ability to understand the psychology of your customer.

By pa360, Oct 19 2018 09:36AM

In this first of a three part series on branding, we look at the seven questions that will ultimately define your brand.

By itself, a strong brand is not a guarantee of success, but it is essential if you want to be successful. Businesses obsess over their brands, spending millions to cultivate, promote and, when necessary, re-brand their products. Brands matter because they are measures of trust, tests of authenticity and definers of relationships. A business with a strong brand can take risks, afford to fail and set trends. Brands can imbue status and standing to those who associate with them. A strong brand can also drive change by lending credibility, focusing interest and galvanising support for a cause.

Brands are personal and social, they are cross-cultural and geo-spatial. To ignore the importance of branding, is to ignore a simple reality that, even more than money, brands are the most tradable commercial and social currency in any economy, anywhere in the world. That said, it is important to remember that your brand is not the same thing as an image. In simple terms, you image is what you project, but your brand is what they experience. Therefore, if you want to create a great brand then create a memorable experience.

So what are the fundamentals of any brand and what are the factors that define it? Set out below are the seven questions that will define your brand.

1. what do you care about?

The things you care about and how you give expression to them, are powerful brand measures. They are encapsulated in the aims, objectives and purpose that you pursue as well as the relationships that you cultivate and how you manage them. However, the things that you care about can also be imputed. Take those who serve in the military as a case in point. By virtue of their service, the risk to which they willingly expose themselves and their example of self-sacrifice; service men and women are rightly seen as people of courage and character. The point to note here is that everyone cares about something and, more often than not, the best evidence of the things you care about, are the things that you do

2. can you be trusted?

Trust is a measure of consistency and stability. It speaks to your reliability and the extent of your influence. In business, trust doesn't just keep customers, it helps you to win new ones as well. A business that can be trusted, maintains standards. It is also in a good position to innovate and try new things, because customers will always believe, that whatever is done, is for the right reasons and with their best interests in mind. In a broader social context, trust speaks to your ability to provide assurance during times of uncertainty. As social commodities go, trust is probably the most valued of all. As such, any individual, business or interest that cannot answer in the affirmative to the question, of trust, has little of anything else to offer.

3. can you solve problems?

Few questions are as defining of a brand as whether it solves problems. Those who find problems are useful, but those who solve them are indispensible. In the branding context, problem solvers increase convenience, facilitate personalisation and save time. A brand that can be associated with problem solving will not just be the first invited into the room, it will ultimately be the last to leave as well. To build a brand that people want to associate with, or to graduate from a good brand to a better one, you must be able to solve problems.

4. is what you have to offer, worth what I am willing to give?

It is easy to forget that a brand is not just a product, it is also a currency. If you don't know what your currency is worth, you will not get value in exchange. Therefore, being self-aware enough to know the true worth of your brand is absolutely critical. If you do not know the value of your brand, how do you expect anyone else to? In a commercial environment, consumers do not want to pay any more for an under-valued brand than they do for an over-valued one. The onus therefore is on the supplier to do the due diligence and ensure that what they have to offer, is worth what others are willing to give.

5. when you speak who listens?

Does your brand have genuine authority? There are two key points to raise here; first, authority is not just about whether anyone listens, because even weak brands are able to attract an audience. Rather, the question is: when you exercise your authority, does anyone even care? Once you have spoken does your brand drive behaviour? Does it affect sentiment? Is it taken seriously? The second point, is not just about whether you attract an audience, it is about whether you attract the right audience? A brand with authority operates with influence and delivers the right message to the right audience at the right time.

6. are you adaptable?

Adaptability is the ultimate evidence of relevance. It speaks to the idea of openness, change and a capacity for innovation and re-invention. In a branding context, if you are relevant then you are relatable and if you are relatable then you have appeal. The point about adaptability is significant, because it is the ability to adapt that enables a brand to appeal to different demographics and be influential across a wider span of interest. This in turn creates opportunities for a brand to be more impactful and effective.

7. what do others say about you?

The ultimate strength of a brand is the number and range of people who are willing to endorse or recommend it. No matter what you say about yourself, or the image that you project, your true brand is what people experience and say about you. Therefore, if people have good experience, then they will not only talk about them, they will come back and bring others. There are few true measures that say more about the impact and effectiveness of a brand than the chatter it is able to generate by word of mouth.

In conclusion, irrespective of whether you are an individual or a business, the questions in this blog, are an evaluative framework for the critical assessment of your brand. In addressing these questions, it is worth remembering that whilst brands are dynamic, they are also uncomplicated and predictable. As such, the better you understand how they are defined, the better able you will be to determine both the efficacy and viability of your brand.

By pa360, Feb 4 2015 06:04AM

An opportunity is not a guarantee. It may be a possibility or a probability, but it is not a guarantee. Everyday we 'trade' in opportunity, for example by applying for jobs in the hope of being recruited, by extending our networks in the hope of making valued new contacts, by shopping in a high street sale in the hope of picking up a bargain, or by making an investment in the hope of securing a financial return. That's opportunity for you. It is a free-market trade in hope. The hope of gaining an advantage, a benefit or a competitive edge.

That brings me to the 'market-place' of opportunity. Much as that might sound like a catchy sound bite, it is not. The market-place is a genuine place of opportunity and an opportunity carefully cultivated can create a vibrant market-place. Like any other trading space, the market-place of opportunity is both actual and virtual allowing us to exchange ideas, acquire skills, take risks, explore and venture out. You don't even need to be awake to trade in the market-place of opportunity. How many times have you read testimonies of people who have come up with truly great ideas whilst asleep? With all this in mind, set out below are seven ways to create a market-place of opportunity.

1. Map your market-place

You cannot maximise opportunity in your market-place until you understand it and you will not understand it, until you have mapped it. Find out what drives sentiment and preference in your chosen area of interest. In addition, start to develop an understanding of where the market gaps are and think about things that you can do to plug those gaps and meet unmet need. The time and effort that you put into market-place mapping will help you to better understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of the market. This will help you to determine whether any of the opportunities that you have identified, will be sustainable in the longer term.

2. Test your market-place

Market testing is the practice of assessing or evaluating the range and suitability of products and services in the market-place, to determine whether they meet your specification. For example, a space rocket and a skateboard are both modes of transportation, but only one of them will take you to the moon and as such, only one will meet your need. In addition, to help you determine whether products meet your requirements, the practice of market-testing will also help you to discover whether there is 'value' in the market. For example, when consumers purchase certain products, do they also routinely purchase other products? The existence of an 'eco-system' within your market-place can provide good evidence of 'value' and where there is 'value', you will also find opportunity.

3. Target your market-place

There is more to targeting your market-place than deciding where best to focus your efforts. You also need to know when to target your efforts as well as how. As a case in point, it is reasonable to assume that a T-shirt and sandals wholesaler would understand the impact of 'seasonality' on their business (ie: that T-shirt and sandal sales will be higher during the summer months compared to winter). As such, their entire business model is likely to be focused or targeted on a specific window of opportunity (ie: the summer). However, given the narrow window of profitability associated with seasonal markets, they may also choose to target their products in markets where there are mono-climates, with brief periods of seasonality. The point being made here is that a targeted approach will enable you to maximise the opportunities that are available to you.

4. Navigate your market-place

Navigating your market-place essentially means two things; firstly, that you have a good knowledge and understanding of the market dynamics, business climate and prevailing economic conditions, impacting upon you. Secondly, it means that you use the insight gained, from scanning your operational environment, to fully maximise opportunities and realise potential. Those able to navigate the market-place effectively, are not just able to absorb information, they also actively utilise that information to prioritise action and formulate real-time responses to emerging opportunities and risks. Someone able to navigate their market-place doesn't just ask their customers what they have, they find out what they need and give them what they want.

5. Influence your market-place

The ability to use influence in the market-place obviously presents you with potentially game-changing opportunities. With influence, the greater your reputation and the higher your standing, the more influence you are likely to have. In particular, influence enables you to engage those who are already loyal or who might be pre-disposed towards you. But what happens if you do not have a reputation or standing upon which to draw or tap into? Well, for those who do not have access to this sort of opportunity, the ability to 'read' customer sentiment or create customer curiosity can often provide the best way forward. The point to note, is that influence is 'active' in as much as it empowers you to make choices and decisions, that can create opportunities and with access to opportunity, you are better able to achieve outcomes that are more desirable.

6. Customise your market-place

A customised market-place is one that is defined and designed by you. The way in which a market-place is customised or configured could be dictated by a wide range of factors. In a market-place saturated with products that look alike and sound alike, a product that looks different and sounds different, will attract attention. Therefore, make yourself identifiably different to others. If you do, you will be indispensable. For example, a 'boutique' market-place will appeal to a particular type of audience with discerning tastes or preferences. The point about customised markets is that the opportunities and benefits that they offer are predicated on a point of detail, distinction or difference that may not necessarily be considered of value to most consumers. Let's be honest, not everyone will appreciate the usefulness of a dog-walking service, but that does not mean that a dog-walking service isn't valuable or useful to someone.

7. Leverage your market-place

To operate effectively within any market-place, irrespective of its composition, you need to be able to leverage it and to leverage it, you need to have something to 'spend'. In the market-place of opportunity, there are 'hard' and 'soft' currencies. Assuming that 'hard currencies' need no explanation, let's focus on 'soft currencies'. By definition, 'soft currencies' comprise the wider capabilities and competencies that enable you to interact with others and gain access to opportunity. Your 'personal brand' is an example of a 'soft currency'; particularly so as it relates to trust, integrity, credibility, accountability and reliability. In the world of 'soft currency', the stronger your brand, the more you will have to spend. Having a stronger trading currency gives you significantly more leverage and bargaining power as you access and operate within your chosen market-place.

In conclusion, your market-place is wherever you trade or transact business. It could be a commercial or a social construct. The lessons described in this blog can be applied equally to either. The specific point here is that to make the most of the opportunities that exist within your market-place, you need to be an active participant, not a casual observer.

By pa360, Jan 23 2015 01:42PM

What is balance and why is it relevant in the context of a brand? Fundamentally, balance is about propriety, proportionality, perspective and precision. The lens of balance gives us a frame of reference through which to think, reason and respond objectively. Balance also increases the confidence that others have in what we do. The reason for this is because when things are balanced, they present as more credible and less risky. When exposure to risk is reduced, people feel a greater level of assurance and are more likely to extend their trust. As we all know, trust is absolutely critical to the success of any brand.

In creating and sustaining a balanced brand, the question is not what matters most to us, but more importantly what matters most to our customers and others whose lives we want to impact. Remember, your brand is not what you say it is, it is what your customers say it is. Therefore if in the view of your customers, the definition of a balanced brand is less of what you have to offer and more of what they want to see, then that is the answer. So how do you create and sustain a balanced brand? What are the opportunities to be maximised and pitfalls to avoid? Well, set out below are the eight key ways.

1. Scan the environment and adapt to the climate

A balanced brand is one that is both spatially aware and contextually relevant. Think about the brand characteristics that are necessary in different areas of activity such as sports coaching. One would expect that a balanced brand for a sports coach would include characteristics such as discipline, motivational skills, decisiveness and team building skills. However, think of another operational environment such as politics. I think that most people would agree that a balanced brand for a politician would include characteristics such as empathy, integrity, trustworthiness and influence. Beyond the characteristics themselves, there is also the question of weight and measure. Specifically, which of the relevant brand characteristics should be more dominant than others and which if any characteristics need to define a brand? The corollary of the above is that with brand balance, you don't just need to know what works best, you also need to understand what counts most.

2. Walk the high-wire with your brand

There are many similarities between brand balance and high-wire walking. Both require intense concentration, careful assessment of risk and precise distribution of weight. In both, the margin for error is small and the consequences of getting it wrong can be huge. Like high-wire walking, if you are going to build a balanced brand your progress is likely to be measured in incremental steps not seismic leaps. This kind of approach will help you to better understand not just what makes sense, but also what works best. As such, like high-wire walking, if you are going to build a balanced brand, it is the confidence you gain from making the first move that equips you with the knowledge you need to make the next one. The key point being made here is that building a balanced brand requires disciplined thinking, careful deliberation and determined action.

3. Protect your brand's 'immune system' and avoid over-exposure to risk

Think about how a vaccination works; a little bit of what could be harmful or damaging to you, is introduced into your body to force an immune system response and to build up anti-bodies. In the brand space, exposure to risk works in exactly the same way. A brand that is well-balanced is not one which only performs well when the climate is positive, it is the one that performs just as well when the climate is negative. As such, mistakes and even outright failure, can if carefully managed be the making of a brand not the breaking of it. However, a brand is out of balance if it becomes over-exposed to situations and circumstances that cause people to question its credibility and reliability. Over-exposure to risk, like over-exposure to harmful pathogens increases vulnerability and increased vulnerability increases likelihood of harm or damage.

4. Learn things from your brand that tell you things about your brand

Brands are highly communicative. They speak to us all the time and often in real time about their experiences, stresses and their overall well-being. Unfortunately, the problem is that even when our brands are speaking to us, sometimes we cannot hear them or choose to ignore them. Think about any process of healthy communication; what are the characteristics that make it balanced or dynamic? Without exception it is the back and forth, the questioning and answering, the listening and learning. In the context of a balanced brand, regular communication empowers you to make informed judgements and careful adjustments that will help ensure that your brand remains balanced. If you are not learning things about your brand it is because you are not communicating with your brand. The harm and damage of brand ignorance is that it is often the precursor to brand failure.

5. Know your brand's 'tipping point'

Recess back into your childhood for a moment. Did you ever play on a see-saw? If you did, this is a really good example of how a tipping point works. If you have two people of relatively equal weight at either end, you have the typical see-saw pendulum motion. However, if the weight distribution at one end becomes disproportionate, the tipping point mechanism is disabled and the see-saw becomes dysfunctional. Now think about your brand; do you know how much you are trusted? Do you know how much influence you have? Or how much confidence others have in you? If you do not, then you have no idea what your brand's 'tipping point' is and as such, your brand could be much more fragile than you realise. Knowing your brand's tipping point helps you to know, not just how much risk you can expose your brand to, but also the bounce-back-ability of your brand in the event that things go wrong.

6. Specificity with diversity or diversity with specificity - choose one

Sometimes the key to a brand's balance is whether it is sufficiently specific or diverse. If I go to a barber, it would not be a reach to expect me to return with a haircut. You might not know what kind of haircut I will return with eg: short back and sides, buzz cut or a trim - but it would be a haircut right? But what about if I made a trip to my local supermarket? Unless I told you what I was going there for, there is no way in the world you could know what I might return with. It could be an item of food or drink, cleaning supplies, batteries for my TV remote, personal hygiene items or something else. Sometimes the key to brand balance is the extent to which you can demonstrate diversity in a specific area or specificity across a diverse range.

7. Try not to take on too much water

Hold this image for a second; the economy of a country is out of balance if it is over-reliant on imports (which create deficit and debt) as opposed to exports (which generate revenue and income). In a situation where the value of a country's imports exceed the value of its exports this creates a trade deficit. As it is in economics, so it is with branding; deficits (eg: negative perception) are usually bad and surpluses (eg: positive perception) are usually good. A really strong brand, can in difficult times, take a real beating and still emerge resilient and even stronger after the fact. However, brands can also be a bit like boats, in as much as when they receive too many direct hits, they may start to take on water. Whilst by itself, taking on water is not necessarily terminal; taking on too much water disrupts buoyancy and just like a boat, it will ultimately cause a brand to sink.

8. Make sure that you don't over-extend your brand

Successful brands become successful because they know what they are good at and stick to what they do best. Brands tend to get into trouble when they are over-extended or over-leveraged. Even the most established brands can make the monumental error of over-reaching and presuming a sphere of influence that they clearly do not have. In these instances, the imbalance could just be a case of poor timing, bad judgement or a complete miscalculation. Do you remember the old Coke/ new Coke debacle? What about the breakfast beverage Pepsi AM? Or the Colgate frozen food range? Each of the above highlight the fact that even with the biggest and best known brands, it is still possible to get it spectacularly wrong.

So let's conclude; for a brand to be impactful, then it needs to be relevant but for it to be relevant then it has to be balanced. Ultimately, however, 'balance' is a measure of what is 'proportionate' in the context of what is appropriate. Brands become balanced because they are built on reflection and they stay balanced because they are open to correction.

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