13 deeply disturbing brand facts


1. Products are made and owned by companies. Brands, on the other hand, are made and owned by people … by the public …by consumers.

2. A brand image belongs not to a brand – but to those who have knowledge of that brand.

3. The image of a brand is a subjective thing. No two people, however similar, hold precisely the same view of the same brand.

4. That highest of all ambitions for many CEOs, a global brand, is therefore a contradiction in terms and an impossibility.

5. People come to conclusions about brands as a result of an uncountable number of
different stimuli: many of which are way outside the control or even influence of the product’s owner.

6. Brands – unlike products – are living, organic entities: they change, however imperceptibly,
every single day.

7. Much of what influences the value of a brand lies in the hands of its competitors.

8. The only way to begin to understand the nature of brands is to strive to acquire a facility which only the greatest of novelists possess and which is so rare that it has no name.

9. The study of brands – in itself a relatively recent discipline – has generated a level of
jargon that not only prompts deserved derision amongst financial directors but also provides
some of the most entertaining submissions in Pseuds’ Corner.

10. It is universally accepted that brands are a company’s most valuable asset; yet there is
no universally accepted method of measuring that value.

11. The only time you can be sure of the value of your brand is just after you’ve sold it.

12. It is becoming more and more apparent that, far from brands being hierarchically inferior to companies, only if companies are managed as brands can they hope to be successful.

13. And as if all this were not enough, in one of the most important works about brands published this year, the author says this: “Above all, I found I had to accept that effective brand communication …involves processes which are uncontrolled, disordered, abstract, intuitive … and frequently impossible to explain other than with the benefit of hindsight”.

by Jeremy Bullmore, WPP, 2001

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