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    January 05, 2007


    Rob @ Cynic

    Gareth - I think you know I agree with both John and you very, very much ... I believe the issue is that too many organisations believe their end goal is 'making lot of cash' when in reality, it should be a byproduct of them doing something great and interesting.

    It's like fame - once you got it as a byproduct of doing something special ... nowadays, it's the goal in itself.

    That is why I believe brands like BodyShop/Apple/Virgin/Tesco etc etc do well both interms of sales and loyalty - because they have [and live] a philosophy in all they do and people know it, believe in it and like it.

    How many companies go on about having a strategy and then do something totally contrary to it simply because they see the short term financial opportunity. It makes a mockery of strategy altogether - and they have the nerve to say we don't understand how to grow businesses!

    We also can't ignore the fact that a company by law, must do all it can to maximise the potential investment of it's shareholders - so as much as we blame the corporations, we - as everyday shareholders - must also accept some of the blame given we continually demand higher and higher returns.

    Have you read/seen the book/film 'CORPORATION'? There's a great bit about how Henry T Ford felt his company had a moral duty to evolve it's employee's and community. Call me daft, but if Ford had continued on this path, I believe the consumers out there would have given the brand more support and they wouldn't be in the mess they currently find themselves in.

    When people believe in what you believe - they let you off the odd mistake if they now you are doing it for the right reasons.

    Lets face it, Virgin and Apple have made some of the greatest business blunders of all time [Newton anyone?] but because they believe in more than just their category [and have a history of demonstrating it] people will keep coming back - which is more than can be said for the 'get rich now' brands/companies out there.

    Mark Earls

    Spot on, Gareth.

    I've been boring anyone in range for the last few years reminding them that a business HAS to be more than a money making machine - if it's going to justify your efforts to build it from scratch (or from what ever state you inherit it), if you're going to justify any customer or advocate spending any of their limited time and attention on yo, if you're going to going to get anyone talking about you.

    So the big question is not "what does this business do?" Or "why or how is it better?" but "What is your business FOR?"

    David of Howies ( said this to me in the summer: "belief is great fuel; it's cheaper than money"

    Noah Brier

    Companies need to have missions and not just the bullshit ones agencies come up with after the fact. I believe brands emerge from that mission. The stronger the philosophy, the stronger the brand.

    In the end, brands are like leaders: The best ones have a combination of passion for what they do and vision for the future.

    As a side note, I've been wondering for a while whether we will start to see more non-profit brands emerge.


    Brand as belief system - the final frontier? I hope so, it's all so much more interesting than previous approaches to branding (product/usp, consumer/insight, disruption/interruption stuff).

    Also, current brands out there doing this (and yes, there do seem to be fairly few) are the ones that are actually growing. Perhaps this will legitimize this school of thought for clients and shareholders alike? Sad that an anti-money view on the role of brands may only be embraced after the cash register starts ringing.

    Gareth - love these questions, I've been tuning in every day this week. Hope you continue this.

    David Carlson


    Good and interesting post!

    I think branding is all about being respectful to your present and future consumers. Because if we hold these words of Al and Laura Ries as true (a brand is a perception in the prospect's mind) you are nothing if you don't communicate in a credible and respectful manner.

    Mark Earls

    Cheeky question to David: Where exactly in the mind of the individual customer is the perception that is the brand?

    For my money, you'd be more likely to find a brand between folk. Brands are about social meanings...

    Just a thought

    olivier blanchard


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