The Mind of Seth Godin

I love reading Seth Godin’s blog because he gets straight to the point with no faffing about. In fact, I would hope to emulate this blogging style and maybe someday, someone will same the same thing about mine.

Ok, to the point — Seth has posted a little something called “The Brand Formula“. Read it on his blog, or right here.

What’s a brand?

I think it is the product of two things:
[Prediction of what to expect] times [emotional power of that expectation].

If I encounter a brand and I don’t know what it means or does, it has zero power. If I have an expectation of what an organization will do for me, but I don’t care about that, no power.

Fedex is a powerful brand because you always get what you expect, and the relief you get from their consistency is high.

AT&T is a weak brand because you almost never get what you expect, because they do so many different things and because the value of what they create has little emotional resonance (it sure used to though, when they did one thing, they did it perfectly and they were the only ones who could connect you).

The dangers of brand ubiquity are then obvious. When your brand is lots of things (like AOL became) then the expectations were all over the place and the emotional resonance started to fade. If the predictability of your brand starts to erode its emotional power (a restaurant that becomes boring) then you need to become predictable in your joyous unpredictability!

If you want to grow a valuable brand, my advice is to keep awareness close to zero among the people you’re not ready for yet, and build the most predictable, emotional experience you can among those that care about you.

While I love the craft of branding, I will be the first to admit that the problem lays in the very definition, and the fact that everyone has a different definition of “what is a brand?”. Marty Neumeier describes it as ‘a gut instinct’. AIGA has a long-winded definition, according to The Brand Dictionary. My definition is as follows:

A brand is the human attributes of a non-human entity. Since we, as people, can’t have emotional connections, (or relationships of any sort) with inanimate objects, like cans of soda, we need something to stand in. That stand-in is a brand. It’s a metaphor, a representation, a personification. The key is the human elements.

Are people brands? I say no. Since we have no trouble making a human connection with another human, people are simply people — a person-brand therefore becomes something like a ‘reputation’ or a ‘persona’, which are not entirely the same, they deal less with buying-and-selling, and more with the general characteristics of existence. So what about Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and the like? They’ve transcended into the realm of products.

Other famous brand geeks include Wally Olins, Alina Wheeler, and Debbie Millman.