Power brands can do things ordinary brands can’t do. They have power that goes beyond mere money.
Here are the 8 most valuable powers of the world’s most valuable brands.
A power brand is a customer magnet
Ok, imagine you have just graduated from high school. You have blitzed exams and qualified to attend any university in the world on a scholarship. Do you choose to go to the University of Cambridge or do you choose the University in Nekemte in Ethiopia?
The University of Cambridge is considered one of the best providers of tertiary education in the world. The University’s reputation has been nurtured for 700 years. There’d hardly be a student who wouldn’t want to have Cambridge on his or her CV.
The University receives more applications for student places than it has available. It can be extremely selective in whom it accepts. Its choice is based not just on scholastic achievement but on the ability of each applicant to further enhance its reputation for producing exemplary graduates.
The University of Cambridge doesn’t have to actively sell its courses. On the contrary, its audience actively seeks to buy its services.
The University of Nekemte is rarely mentioned in the same breath as Cambridge. I did it above. That’s probably a first.
Power brands operate in a seller’s market. The rest operate in a buyer’s market.
A power brand attracts the best staff
Everything I wrote about students above works equally well for lecturers. The University of Cambridge can choose the best. The University of Nekemte can’t.
It’s true in every category you can think of. Ferrari can attract the world’s best automotive designers. SsangYong can’t. Apple can attract computer engineers that Acer can only dream of hiring.
People want to work for power brands. Power brands want people who will help keep them power brands.
Staff hired by power brands are more engaged, often motivated by the ‘cool’ factor of working for a power brand.
This doesn’t necessarily mean they stay. Apple has the same staff turnover worries of other businesses. The reason Apple employees leave is probably different from other companies’ staff. Someone who has Apple on his or her résumé probably has enough ambition to want to leverage the career-building power of having worked for a power brand.
A power brand is welcome everywhere
The strongest brands have a really easy time crossing borders. They travel on diplomatic passports. Doors are opened, barriers dismantled.
These power brands have been presold. Their reputations have preceded them, having been built by passionate brand ambassadors (paid and unpaid), by glowing reviews and by travellers returning with tales of exotic interactions with these power brands in other countries.
The Global Innovation Index ranks the world’s countries according to a series of indices that represent a country’s commitment to, and support of, innovation. This is important to a country’s economic development. It has been demonstrated that innovative countries want to collaborate with other innovative countries. Innovative companies want to have a presence in innovative countries.
Power brands also cross category borders with ease. The only proviso is that when they enter a new category, it’s one that’s consistent with their vision, personality, values and modus operandi.
A power brand commands a premium price
This goes without saying. But if I didn’t say it, this would be a short post – and somebody would point out that I neglected to mention that power brands command a premium price.
Luxury goods are partly defined by their quality and largely by their price. It is expensive, therefore it is luxurious. A Tiffany diamond can be the same weight, clarity and brilliance as a hundred other diamonds. It commands a higher asking price because it comes in a distinctive blue box and because of the bragging rights that come with anything bought from Tiffany.
Beyond this intangible sense of luxury, what else characterises a brand able to charge a premium? Better design, reputation for reliability, evidence of rigorous manufacturing standards, rarity and likability.
We will pay more for brands that we like – a reality that owners of lesser brands don’t like.
A power brand is durable
Strong brands have staying power. There’s something alluring about a beer first brewed in 1040 or a mustard first blended in 1723.
Power brands have ways of reinventing themselves, adapting to changes in taste whilst staying true to their roots. Like her or not, Madonna has regularly refreshed her image to stay current. (The Rolling Stones would have to be the world’s most enduring living musical brand, but this is more a marvel of biology than brand management.)
History makes for great stories. We all love sharing stories. A power brand’s stories endure and add to the brand’s power.
A power brand is found more easily
The more powerful a brand grows, the more ubiquitous it becomes. As it grows, it establishes more branches or sales outlets, shows up in more search results and gets more media coverage.
We see a power brand’s logo more frequently and learn to identify the brand’s visual cues at a distance. We see the McDonald’s golden arches everywhere. They become guiding markers on life’s journeys. Posters let us know we’re 10 kms from the nearest McDonald’s. When giving directions, we will tell someone to “turn left at McDonald’s”.
Power brands are part of our cultural landscape and vernacular.
A power brand is forgiven the occasional mistake
Thirty years ago Coca-Cola changed the flavour profile of Coke. They introduced New Coke because blind taste tests showed that people preferred the flavour of Pepsi.
New Coke was a disaster. Faithful Coke drinkers hated New Coke. They told Coca-Cola that whilst the first sip of Pepsi was appealing, it was cloying after more than a few sips.
The Coca-Cola Company quickly reintroduced the original recipe version, which they called Coke Classic. Then, when the time was right, they ditched New Coke and dropped Classic from the original product.
Coca-Cola’s audience forgave the company this mistake. And that’s the thing with power brands – they can make mistakes and get away with them. Non-power brands can’t.
A power brand has financial value
There’s a clear correlation between the power of a brand and the value of the company behind it.
Power brands make more money. They attract the best staff who develop innovations that make money. Power brands sell at a higher price that accelerates the growth to the bottom line. They have proved their ability to endure – and investors will pay more for something with longevity. They have added value based on an intangible sense of brand aura, something that can’t be classified under assets or sales volume.
Building a power brand is simple – but difficult for most business owners. To do so you need to stop focusing on building your business and start focusing on building your brand. Define what makes your brand unique, what you want to achieve with your brand (beyond sales goals). Define its characteristics and how you want people to feel about it. Create a brand ID that matches your vision. Hire people whose values match your own and your brand’s. At every step you take (introducing a new product or service, for example), ask if it will help bring you a step closer to realising your vision.
Most important of all? Ask how you can add value to your audience’s lives. Power brands add value.