What’s your brand theme?

January 31, 2008

There’s probably a more marketing-y word for it, but it occurs to me that the successful brands have recurring themes.

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When I was at Dell, it was comparative value. Even a high-end, high-margin box was positioned in terms of being more value for the money than the competition. Of course the big lead driver was the low-end box in the FSI (newspaper inserts for the acronym-averse). Dell products that don’t offer superior value for the money don’t succeed.

If I had to sum up the theme I get from all Apple products, it’s “I get pleasure from using this.” Flipping through photos on an iPhone is a sensual experience (no, not that kind of photos), made more so by the interaction with the touchpad. Apple products that stray from that (think Newton, but there have been others) don’t succeed.

OK, there’s a lot of talk about personal branding, ‘brand you‘, etc. Career Warfare covers that extensively. Think about the fact that Apple, Dell and other companies inevitably fail when they stray from their major brand themes. Then apply that to personal branding.

Can you succeed by straying from your personal brand theme? Or are you better off figuring out what it is and pushing it as far as you can go?

Your personal brand theme is the result of many choices you’ve made, choices as basic as “do I keep promises or not”, “am I nice to everyone I meet or just people that I think can help me.” But don’t confuse that with thinking your brand theme is a choice. It’s not. Dell doesn’t just choose to go high-end with XPS. Instead, they choose to start making a series of different choices than they have before. It’s more like turning over a new leaf and less like flipping a switch.

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