Protect Your Brand


TME-MHammondWhat do people in the mortgage industry think of when they say your company name or your product name? Is it good? Is it distinct? It better be if you want to succeed and thrive in this mortgage market. Your brand matters.

Blake Morgan put it this way in her article entitled “The Purpose Of A Brand Framework:”

She challenges us to “think about NASA. When I say NASA you might think exploration, innovation, ingenuity. NASA means something. It’s not just what NASA does that provides associations—it’s what NASA stands for, what it means. It meant something when we put a man on the moon. It meant something for people who had no participation whatsoever. But they felt part of that excitement—part of that zeitgeist.”

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In a recent article “Was Peter Drucker Wrong? The Purpose of a Brand,” she showed differing perspectives of the purpose of a brand. Is the purpose of a brand to focus on a small group of valuable customers—grow your relationship with those customers—and create products and services that appeal only to this small group? Or do we create a brand that is tangible for everyone-customers and non-customers alike?

The story of the modern brand is pieced together through leadership decisions made at every step of the decision making process. Some companies today are moving beyond the obvious. They are taking advantage of every opportunity to create a brand. It’s more thoughtful, extensive and complicated than what we’ve seen in the past.

Think about the expanding role of a brand’s customer service operation. Brands today—particularly on social media—are expected to provide engagement and responses to essentially anyone who wants to talk to them online. There’s no way for a brand to immediately know if that person engaging online is a customer or not. It reflects poorly on the brand if they don’t respond. The role of the brand is much bigger than it used to be, perhaps because the unspoken responsibilities of the brand have changed. Largely thanks to the democratization of information and communication channels.

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In a recent interview, Peter Drucker’s grandson, Nova Spivak, an investor and entrepreneur, said:

“We can now measure how our ambassadors were contributing. They might not purchase—they might spread our culture and message. There are more kinds of stakeholders that contribute to the culture of a brand. There’s a hierarchy—a brand wants to make some sort of transaction. But that is a group of people at the top of a pyramid, and they are resting on layers and layers of people who might not transact such as journalists, celebrities, marketers, fans and others who touched the brand in some way and helped contributed to the culture of that brand. You need to reach a lot more than customers to have customers. It’s more and more not about your customers. Now it’s possible to cultivate all the non-customers that help you ultimately get customers even if they don’t themselves become customers.”

What Drucker’s grandson said is a large piece of the modern brand. It is not only about the obvious. It is not only about your direct customers. The reach of the modern brand is more expansive than that.

A good brand provides unquestionable value, unique experiences and an uncompromising mission.

Unquestionable Value:

You simply cannot compete today unless you provide a better quality product or service. Business is changing. There are too many of the same products and services–there is no room for sameness. Business is changing. The world’s largest taxi company owns no taxis (Uber), the largest accommodation provider owns no real estate (Airbnb), the most popular media owner creates no content (Facebook), the largest telecom operator owns no telecom infrastructure (Skype and WeChat), the world’s largest software vendors don’t write the apps (Apple and Google) and the world’s largest movie house owns no cinemas (Netflix). As you can see sometimes the value is getting out of the way—and being the conduit. In general the rules of value are changing. Shopper behavior has changed. One Fast Company article entitled “Why Millennials Don’t Want To Buy Stuff” explains it well by looking at how the end of “scarcity” changes our urge to own.

Even in this strange new world, the economic laws of scarcity apply, and they are precisely what’s shifting. To ‘own something’ in the traditional sense is becoming less important because what’s scarce has changed. Ownership just isn’t hard anymore. We can now find and own practically anything we want, at any time, through the unending flea market of the Internet. Because of this, the balance between supply and demand has been altered, and the value has moved elsewhere.

Value is not the same as it used to be because of the economic laws of scarcity are changing. Owning a car or even a house does not have the same value it did after World War II. Today’s idea of value—especially for Millennials—is much different. What consumers deem valuable has changed. It’s not just the sharing economy, it’s decisions about why people of all generations choose to purchase something.

In the same article writer Josh Dykstra of Fast Company also points out,

“Today, a product or service is powerful because of how it connects people to something—or someone—else. It has impact because we can do something worthwhile with it, tell others about it, or have it say something about us.” Something has changed with regard to value. People today buy things not only for their purpose, but what owning says about them.

To Provide Unique Experiences:

The good news about the purpose of a brand is if you go above and beyond on experience, you are already light years ahead of your competition. Most companies don’t take the time to compete on experience. They work very hard on the product, they work very hard to sell you the product, and that is it. The experience falls short once your credit card is swiped. The experience has to hold up on a few different levels, not just the levels that are sensible and convenient for the brand. The product or service must be unique, and if it’s not you must have done the product or service better than anyone else. What does it mean to do it better? It means you must go above and beyond—it’s about creating an incomparable experience for the consumer around the product and service.

To Provide An Uncompromising Mission:

Brands today are not purely in the business of selling product. They also are a member of our global community. It is a popular opinion that companies need to operate with a level of awareness about how they are impacting the planet. The purpose of the brand today is to be a citizen of the world. To improve the lives and surroundings of the customers it serves not purely by selling product, but by the decisions they make every day. Everything about a company—its culture, its environmental footprint, and the way it is viewed by concerned consumers—stems from the leadership practices. The first step for leadership is to establish a clear set of values and mission. The mission and values are only impactful when they are followed with behavior. If the company doesn’t walk the walk, the mission and values hold no weight—and no one will trust this company. If the employees and customers trust the company it is because they do what they say they will do.

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