Your Brand is Your Reputation

wolf appliances

We have a problem…

I talk a lot about the power of branding and how you need a promise, a personality, an experience, a story… to set you apart from the rest.

However, it seems that we don’t need to know much about a brand in order for us to buy it. I have Method dish soap and hand soap, but know absolutely nothing about the brand, don’t know their story, never consumed any of their content, couldn’t tell you their mission. This is true for a lot of brands I buy. I assume this is true for most people most of the time as well. Can the average Mercedes owner articulate why they bought Mercedes and not BMW? 

So, for someone like me who is creating content about how important brand is, I seem to have a problem. In many buying decisions, it doesn’t appear as though brand is an important factor. How do we resolve this conflict?

I thought long about this, and determined two things:

  1. You either have a commodity, or you have a brand. Dish soap for me may be a commodity and therefore I’m mostly influenced by price. Most of us don’t care about what brand of rice we buy, or garlic, or gas, or gold, or water… they are more or less interchangeable.
  2. While we may be ignorant of a brand’s messaging and values, we assume others have looked into this, including those with more knowledge than us. It’s not practical as consumers that we know and can recite the brand messaging of every product we buy, so as a shorthand, we form a trust by consensus. This trust by consensus only happens as a result of branding. Therefore, branding is important.

While we can’t always articulate why we buy certain brands, in many cases, we have have at least heard of them. We are aware of their reputation and association. We defer this expertise onto others and adopt it for ourselves. 

So in a word, brand is all about reputation

Perhaps it’s nothing more than is the reputation or association of being good or bad. 

Is this car known to break down or be reliable? Is this detergent known to clean my laundry or ruin my laundry? Is this clothing brand known to be expensive, high-quality, in-style… or not.

So what is brand?

It’s more than just your product, your colours, your logo, it’s what the logo stands for.

There are examples of brands where we:

👉 Don’t know the history
👉 We don’t know their story
👉 We don’t know their values
👉 We never see their ads
👉 We can’t recall the logo

But, we still know the brands.

Think of the brand Wolf Appliances.

We’ve all heard of the brand, but can you tell me anything meaningful about it?

You may say, “Sure, I know they use red knobs, they are expensive, and used are in high-end homes.”

Okay, but suppose you were to build a 10-million-dollar home and your contractor asked you if you wanted Wolf or Miele or Sub-Zero or Bosch… would you have a preference? Are you a part of any of these tribes?

I’m guessing no.

It seems we have a bit of a conundrum. It doesn’t seem like we have brand preferences for any of these brands. So how does a company become so well known, so sought after, have some kind of market awareness beyond it’s customers, yet most people can’t tell you a single thing about them?

Therein lies the problem. How do we resolve this conflict?

I would respond to this by pointing out the fact that we do know SOMETHING about the brand – the red knobs, they’re expensive, they are in high-end homes… is proof enough that branding is important.

We also know that 10-million-dollar homes do not have GE appliances, or Frigidaire.

What this tells me is that there are people who have deeper knowledge on this subject than us, and they are continuously using certain brands in high-end homes, and not others. This allows us a shorthand to adopt that same trust for those brands while we ourselves don’t have to go any deeper than that.

Their reputation and association are known.

In order for a product to be used in high-end homes all over the world, somebody, with more knowledge than us, must have vetted them.

These people (developers, designers, home owners…) must have specialized knowledge about the brand, and that’s why they use them over and over.

We as lay people associate Wolf with words like expensive, high-end, quality… and that is good enough for most people.

The next time you are in your friend’s home and you see a Wolf appliance, you may even say, “Ooh, Wolf, this is nice!”

This is the power of branding.

It’s about your reputation and association, which is formed by people who matter most to your brand. That then permeates it’s way down to others.

Michael Jordan

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