Authenticity’s Paradox: If You Flaunt It, You Lose It

Stanford professor Glenn R. Carroll discusses his decades of research into the origins, advantages, perils, and future of “authentic” branding.

What I Learned From Developing Branding for Airbnb, Dropbox and Thumbtack

Since leaving YouTube in 2009, Julie Supan has become one of the most sought-after branding experts in Silicon Valley, helping companies like Dropbox, Airbnb and Thumbtack craft their positioning prior to launch. Her first step? Identifying their target user—the high-expectation customer. In this exclusive interview, she explains who that is, how to find them, and why every startup needs to ditch generic platitudes and start … [ Read more ]

Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

Is this the end of brands? Of course not. Brands still play some important roles that are not likely to go away. And in categories where prestige, status, and emotional links to brands matter a great deal, the rate of change is likely to be slow. So luxury brands are on safer ground. Yet in domains where objective, specification-based quality is important—and can be assessed … [ Read more ]

Maria Ross

Brand is a three-legged stool: It is conveyed visually, verbally, and experientially. “Visually” is the easy part: your logo, your colors, your design, your packaging. “Verbally” is how you talk, what you say, and which messages you convey. For example, do you lead with price, or do you lead with value? Does your company speak in conservative, authoritarian tones, or are you more playful and … [ Read more ]

Jill Avery

Brand managers entered the social media landscape with the same approach they used for television and radio advertising. With both of those media, we have an understood contract with consumers: In order for you to get free programming, you agree to be interrupted by commercial messages. Social media did not have that contract, so that when customers were interrupted by brands in social media, it … [ Read more ]

John Timmerman, Stephen Shields

When it comes to human capital, it’s perplexing that companies will use far less sophisticated methods for selecting employees than they do for almost anything else. Companies will spend fortunes on facilities, technologies, and advertising, but they often have no idea what kind of employee is best able to deliver the brand promise.

Andrew Ehrenberg

In practice, competitive brands are mostly very similar. Michael Porter’s “sustainable competitive advantage” suffers from two disadvantages: Competitive advantages seldom exist; and if they do, they are rarely sustainable.

Almost any difference between brands that makes a difference in sales gets copied very quickly. “The trends in our technology lead to competing products being more and more the same,” the famed advertising guru James Webb Young … [ Read more ]

Lysle Wickersham

The concept behind any dialogue has to be focused on increasing the consumer’s sense of comfort or value. If you offer incentives on brands people don’t accept or know, you aren’t offering anything. But if your offer underscores a key value of your proposed relationship, an incentive can work wonders.

Clayton M. Christensen, Scott Cook and Taddy Hall

Purpose brands create enormous opportunities for differentiation, premium pricing and growth. But reckless management can erode the equity of these brands. There are only two ways to extend brands without destroying them: Marketers can apply the brand to different products that address the same job. Or they can apply the brand to endorse the quality of products that do other jobs and create new purpose … [ Read more ]

The Economist

As they move from merely validating products to encapsulating whole lifestyles, brands are evolving a growing social dimension. In the developed world, they are seen by some to have expanded into the vacuum left by the decline of organized religion. But this has made brands—and the multinationals that are increasingly identified with them—not more powerful, but more vulnerable. Consumers will tolerate a lousy product for … [ Read more ]

Niall FitzGerald

A brand is a storehouse of trust. That matters more and more as choices multiply. People want to simplify their lives.

Dan Herman, PhD

The brand’s strategy should be the translation of your competitive-marketing strategy into terms of a promise to your existing and prospective customers.

Jerry Selitto

Branding is a very complicated concept. There’s brand recognition, and then there’s brand experience. And the real key is brand experience. When we’re talking about whether we’re cross-selling or outsourcing, the important element is that brand experience, and that brand experience has to be consistent.

Robert Fisher

brand relationships are useful because they help reduce the risk associated with purchasing decisions and help us create and communicate our identities to others.

Lucas Conley

Bill Schley, author of Why Johnny Can’t Brand (Portfolio, November 2005), says branding “is not what you say but what you do.” But what a company does is already, well, what it does! To brand, in a corporate sense, is no more a verb than “to gorgeous.” A brand is a result, not a tactic. One cannot go about branding an organization or a product … [ Read more ]

Don and Heidi Schultz

In their simplest form, brands are the manifestation…of some type of relationship between the buyer and the seller…A “brand relationship” is some type of bond – financial, physical, or emotional -that brings the brand seller and buyer together. Thus, the relationship can be either deep or shallow. Rational or irrational. Long term or short term. Or any combination in between.

Scott Bedbury

Effective brand building requires making relevant and compelling connections to deeply rooted human emotions or profound cultural forces. Brands that establish themselves within the larger incredibly complex fabric that we call life will set themselves apart in a more meaningful way. Great brands understand the need to respect both the physical and emotional needs of consumers…Great brands transcend great products. They respect … [ Read more ]

Nicholas Ind

The primary function of brands is to reduce our anxiety in making choices. The very fact we are anxious indicates that we have freedom to choose. The more we sense we know about a product, the less anxiety we feel. When we know less about a product, then our uncertainty rises. The axiom is demonstrated by the correlation that exists between … [ Read more ]

Ray Podder

We are aware of many brands in our over-advertised existence, but they only become relevant when our current focus matches their offerings. Like how we notice other vehicles of the same make right after we buy a new car, brand relevance is often about our focus relative to time and place.

Suzanne Hogan, Eric Almquist, and Simon E. Glynn

Most electronic forms of interactions do not delight customers, but they have a great potential to destroy brand equity if they fail. For example, after 20 years automated teller machines (ATMs) do not please us very much, but they irritate us when they are down for service. While Web sites may provide some delight today, they will probably be the same as ATMs in the … [ Read more ]