I devoured The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier yesterday while on a long ferry ride. I had never heard of Marty and this book was recommended to me by a designer friend who told me my eBook echoed many of his concepts and philosophies. I highly suggest giving this digestible and practical primer a read if you can.
I’m going to break down some concepts from the book on the blog over the next week or so. But for today, let’s just focus on his principle of brand as competitive differentiator. To avoid commoditization, you need to build a strong brand to enable you to ask for premium pricing as well as to create a predictable expectation and experience among your target audience. This is not to say that branding means creating only luxury brands – it just means people will pay for the soul, the experience, the “promise” of something, vs. a cookie-cutter substitute that does not really stand for anything.
He also talks a lot about how to structure brand building within your organization. The best structures are ones that still retain internal brand stewards to constantly monitor and educate on the brand, and ensure all touchpoints carry forth the promise. You can’t “outsource” branding per se – you can only assemble a strong team to help you achieve branding success and execute on it. That would be like someone “outsourcing” their personality to a more likeable person. Your brand is what you are, so you have to walk the talk.