While brand strategy is admittedly complex, the essence of branding is simple: Strong Brands have a clear focus, they are radically different from the surrounding market, and they capitalize on an external source of energy.
Strong Brands are focused. They understand who they are, what they do, and why it matters. Moreover, they can communicate these propositions clearly & concisely.
Strong brands are radically different from the surrounding market. “When everyone else zigs, zag”7 The real competition of any brand is clutter—market clutter, message clutter, product clutter, feature clutter—there are too many data points competing for our attention. Strong Brands cut through the clutter by radically differentiating themselves and thereby owning a category in people’s minds.
Strong brands capitalize on an external source of energy—like a surfer catching a wave or a sailor setting her sail to the wind. The most common form of external energy is social trends. Trends are the observable patterns of human behavior en masse. A brand that hitches its sail to the right currents of human behavior is energized and amplified.