The 2020 Forbes study positions Apple as the most valuable brand with an estimated value of around US$ 240 billion with Google, Microsoft and Amazon following with valuations well over US$ 100 billion. This means that if Apple were to sell its brand name alone that is the price it would command. How do these brands reach such staggering heights? What do they do right that others don’t? The answer lies in getting the basics correct. Brand building is more about attitude than about skills. It is as much about building a mindset as it is about product solutions that consistently satisfy consumer requirements. It is about getting your priorities straight. Building a strong connection with your consumer that goes beyond a transactional relationship. Making promises that resonate with your consumers and consistently delivering on those promises time and again. It’s a gradual process that companies need to commit to and not something that can be done overnight.
This is the first and foremost requirement: commitment. Every business wishes to be in a position that brands like apple and google are in but how many are willing to fully commit themselves to the process. Most brands want quick-fix solutions. Unfortunately, there are none. You have to take the gradual road to build strong brand relations with your consumers and there are no shortcuts for that. The process is very simple; make promises that are highly relevant to your consumer, communicate those promises effectively and then consistently deliver on those promises to a point where consumers build a strong trust in your deliveries. The benefits then become symbolic with your brand name and that builds strong associations in the minds of the consumers. These associations are not built overnight. Consistency and persistence are key.
Wai Wai is arguably one of the strongest local brands and it has taken consistent efforts of over three decades to reach where it has today. However, having reached this position it cannot be shaken easily as is evident from frequent yet largely unsuccessful attacks it had to face from a host of brands in the last few decades. It continues to remain the brand of choice for its largely loyal consumer base. Is it only about the product? I don’t think so.
All this requires a shift in attitude. We work in a business environment where fund allocation on brand building and marketing communication is accounted as an expense rather than an investment. Balance sheets don’t reflect brand valuations. Computers and telephones are allowed to be posted into the asset column. The fact that it is almost impossible to sell them for any kind of price leave alone the valuation reflected in the balance sheet is immaterial. Brands on the other hand are far more saleable and valuable, yet they are not posted as assets. Would apple be able to sell its physical assets for over US$240 billion? Definitely not! It can sell its brand though. The accounting systems need to change as it defies all rationale and logic and requires new practical thinking of doing business in the new age.
Business owners need to start at a point where they focus on what the brand delivers to the consumer. It sounds simple but most owners start at the point where their focus is on what the brand would deliver to their bottom lines. The thinking needs to be turned upside down.
Building strong brands is not about marketing gimmicks and tricks. It is not about big stars and expensive campaigns. It is simply about getting the fundamentals correct. It is about building strong relations with consumers just as people build relations with each other. It requires a very human approach, which starts with a commitment to deliver the best.