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002: The Brand Gap

Updated: Sep 26, 2021

This episode is all about The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier. In this timeless classic about branding and design, Marty explores what it means to build a strong brand (hint: it's more than a logo) and I share my top 3 Aha! moments revealed in the book. This book and this episode are not to be missed by anyone who wants to learn about the immutable laws of branding.

Marty is currently the Director of CEO Branding for Liquid Agency, a branding agency. I’ve written and spoken a lot about branding and I would consider this book a MUST READ if you want to get a better sense of this industry. Here I’ll be sharing my top 3 Aha! Moments revealed in Marty's book:

Aha! #1: “When enough individuals arrive at the same gut feeling, a company can be said to have a brand.”

- A company can create a brand image (and pay lots of money to do so), but that’s not the same as a brand

- A brand is not what a company says it is, it’s what THEY (the collective THEY) say it is, therefore a brand is what your customers say behind your back

- Every person who interacts with the outside world on behalf of your company (from the sales people to customer service to social media managers) makes decisions every day that help or hinder the brand

- Collective actions over a span of time (in the recent past - you’re only as good as your last meal, for example) equals a brand

- Later in the book, Marty goes on to say that each person in the company should have a compass (or ‘brandometer’) which is a set of ideas about what the brand is and what makes the brand tick - no decision, big or small, should be made without first asking “will it help or hurt the brand?”

Aha! #2: "Among the hallmarks of a charismatic brand are a clear competitive stance, a sense of rectitude, and a dedication to aesthetics. Why aesthetics? Because it’s the language of feeling, and, in a society that’s information-rich and time-poor, people value feeling more than information.”

- You don’t only have to walk the talk, but you have to look the part doing it

- Certain colours have been found to influence behaviour and it’s no surprise that colours are associated with different emotions and feelings, that therefore influence consumer behaviour

But logos don’t have to cost a fortune to look good and work wonders to elevate a brand’s status - take for instance Nike and the 2012 Olympic Winter Games in London

- One of these logos is rumoured to cost only $35 and be designed by a student, while the other cost over half a million dollars to create

- One is iconic, the other laughable

- One is crisp and modern, the other illegible

- Nike was a steal while the Olympic Committee was robbed

Aha! #3: "The traditional view of design is that it has four possible goals: to identify, to inform, to entertain, or to persuade. But with branding there’s a fifth: to differentiate. While the first four are tactical, the fifth is strategic, with its roots deep in aesthetics - a powerful combination of logic and magic.”

- Our brains are hardwired to notice difference

- Marty states that “only one competitor can be the cheapest - the others have to use branding.”

- How are you different (and therefore more relevant to your customers) than your competition? If only one company in a given category can the cheapest, you need to figure out a way to compete on something other than price.

- Price isn't as important as you'd think because despite popular belief, most people don’t go with the cheapest option; instead, they go with the option that’s the best fit or the option that provides the most value for money.

- How do you stand out in a crowd? That’s a deeply personal and strategic question each brand owner must ask themselves

- Another one of my favourite branding and design big thinker, Seth Godin, has written a whole book about this - Purple Cow. Black and white cows are everywhere. You wouldn’t stop your car to see a brown cow. But a purple cow, now that’s something truly remarkable. Something that you could literally make a remark about to someone else. You’d genuinely want to tell others about your purple cow sighting and pass on the info in case they themselves would like to see it.

- Difference is good. Difference is necessary. Difference creates strong branding.

Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle

Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo by Alex on Unsplash

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