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the problem with brand

the problem with brand

If something sounds simple.

We can become strangely suspicious of it.

We might devalue it.

Or we might even miss it completely.


Love is like that, I think.

A simple little thing, love.

It’s just a feeling, after all

But it is a feeling that.



Transforms us as people.

And brand works in the same way for a business.

Brand is a feeling.

A transformative feeling.

A simple little thing.

And just like love.

It is very important.

The Problem With Brand.

But there’s a problem with brand.

And it’s the same problem that people can have with love.

Here’s how I describe the brand problem:

The problem with brand is that it is so simple.

It is so simple that even some of the best business minds don’t understand it.

Brand can pass even the greatest business people by.

They can remain untouched by it.

They can dismiss it.

They can go through their business lives never, ever releasing the sustainable profitability they could.

Because they don’t build a brand.

And it is almost always for the same reason that a person might miss out on love.

It is because they overcomplicate things.

Sustainable Profitability.

I don’t know the rules of love.

I do know the rules of brand, though.

But first.

Here is what a brand actually is.

A brand is a perception held in the mind of the consumer about a product or service.

Engineered by an organisation to maximise sustainable profitability.


After a couple of reads.

I get that.

As I said.

Brand is a simple concept.

But knowing it.

And doing something about it.

So that you actually become a brand.

These are two quite different things.

The Rules.

In order to do something about becoming a brand.

So that you can work towards, ‘…maximising your sustainable profitability’.

(And once you are a brand you really can work towards maximising your sustainable profitability).

You need to know the rules.

There are 5 of them.

At least, at the heart of the process there are 5 of them.

And here they are:

  1. Know What Business You Are Really In.
  2. Own a Life Enhancing Benefit In The Mind of the Consumer.
  3. Stay Focused.
  4. Be Clear.
  5. Be Consistent.

Let’s have a quick look at each.

1. Know What Business You Are Really In.

What this means is that you need to be fully aware that your customers or clients definitely do not buy what you do.

They buy what you do, does.

To take this a little further.

They care little about what you do.

They care lots about what you are for.

So tell them.

So that when you do.

They can work out if the change you want to make.

Is a change they want to see.

2. Own a Life Enhancing Benefit In The Mind of the Consumer.

This has two parts.

The first bit is ownership.

What this means is that.

If you get this bit right.

When someone mentions the change you are determined to make.

Without even mentioning your name.

You come to mind.

Because you ‘own’ the intention.

The ambition.

The change.

And once this becomes embedded in the mind of the consumer.

(That’s the second bit).

You end up standing for something uniquely you.

And if that very same something also matters to them.

This is one of the fundamentals of your journey towards becoming a brand.

3. Stay Focused.

Don’t bugger about.

Don’t get distracted.

Just focus on.

And build.

An infrastructure.

An ecosystem.

An obsession, even.

Build these things around the change you want to make.


Surprise, surprise.

If you are a good enough storyteller.

That is what you become known for.

And again.

You are closer to becoming a brand.

4. Be Clear.

I particularly like this rule.

Because it sorts the creatives.

From the stylists.

Here is a really important thing

Clarity trumps creativity.

If your target doesn’t have a fucking clue what you are talking about.

Or they don’t know what you want them to remember.

Or they don’t know what you want them to do.

Then you’re wasting your time.

Because if the creative is stunning.

And your message is unclear.

All you are really doing is showing how creatively articulate you are at saying absolutely nothing at all.

The only thing that’ll happen is your agency or your designer wins an award.

They prettify their portfolio.

And they steal your money.

So fuck creativity.

At least until you have a really clear brand message – pinned.

5. Be Consistent.

Repetition is good.

Once you have your brand position fixed.

Keep it fixed.

Repetition is good.

Your creative talent should be able to deliver your brands simple, central message consistently well.

Over and over again.



With flair.


And clearly.

Repetition is good.

A Note About The Rules.

None of these 5 rules are beyond the wit and wisdom of man or woman.

And yet so very, very few businesses are brands.

Which means that so very, very few businesses are maximising their sustainable profitability.

Which means that so very, very many businesses are sub-optimal.

And that’s a bloody shame.


Remember this:

The problem with brand is that it is so simple.

It is so simple that even some of the best business minds don’t understand it.

And remember that no matter who you are.

You have the potential to build a brand.

If you follow the rules.

And if you don’t over complicate things.

And more than anything.

You should remember this.

If you do successfully build a brand.

You will make more money.

Because brand-rich businesses – are rich businesses.

PDF version here.

Author: Michael Owen. ©Michael Owen 2020. It’s OK to reproduce or redistribute this story in part or as a whole. With the strict condition that you always clearly reference the author, Michael Owen, and always clearly link to Thank you.


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