The Number 1 Reason Great Brands Are Successful

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Take a moment to think about what brands today are currently making an impact in our society. Try to pick three or four that come to the top of your head… Now take a moment to reflect upon the great brands of yesteryear…

If you truly study what makes brands successful today, you will see a dramatically different picture of what made brands successful back then. Back in the day, the brands that may have come to mind were quite simply those who ran the most advertisements, or who had the most stores – wow have things changed! Cultural shifts change how we look at everything – it’s an all-encompassing change that some embrace and some fall victim to.

For many years, we defined stalwart brands as ‘institutions’ or ‘mega-brands’, but were they really brands? I guess if you defined them by size and revenue… then maybe they were. I guess we had no choice but to call them brands – after all we didn’t know any better because that’s all we knew. Big brands told us what to believe, and we believed it.

Well, those days are long gone. In fact, they have disappeared altogether. Brands like McDonald’s continues to struggle with the coveted Millennial market segment during this fast-moving shift because they are falling victim to what made them successful in the first place – scale, distribution, revenue… and by contrast the little guys (Chipotle, Smash Burger) are chipping away at them like piranhas in a feeding frenzy.

The Davids vs. The Goliaths

So the question becomes… how are the Davids standing toe-to-toe with the Goliaths?

They do so because they are a reflection of the cultural change in society today. They simply speak and deliver on the core values of their market place while the big brands continue to throw looping punches in a fight where speed, agility and integrity are the key skill-sets to creating a winning environment.

Note: For all the articles on this blog on branding and brand strategy, click how to brand a company.

Let’s take a look at the 3 brands below that understand the cultural shifts and deliver values that the marketplace actually cares about.

1) Tesla Motors

 Electric cars of the past exuded a very uninspired design vision. They spoke to the cultural shift of energy efficient and clean technology driven products, but lacked the design aesthetics to really lift the category to it potential.

Tesla bridged these two ideas into a beautiful car that speaks to the ‘clean’ movement in society. Design is function, and Tesla’s effort has led to them to being far and above the category leader (full size luxury sedans).  This category includes formidable brands with long heritages like – Mercedes, BMW and Lexus.

2) Whole Foods

If you were a betting person, you probably wouldn’t give many grocery entrants a chance among the giant retailers occupying that space – most notably Wal-Mart and host of other big grocery retailers. Wal-Mart is selling price, which is a big value to some, but not all.

Whole Foods understood the quality movement in society – not just in its products, but also in the entire process of bringing food and beverages to market.  Health, responsibility and fairness are the cornerstones of their brand and their customers love them for it. They can tell a unique and inspiring story that’s hard to duplicate.

Does Wal-Mart speak to any of those values? A better question might be, Can they? Currently the answer is a resounding ‘No’, as their story is in direct contrast to Whole Foods – lower cost… at all costs.

3) Nike

 There are two brands that tend to get overused when the discussion is about branding… Nike and Apple – but they get this notoriety because they have this ‘branding thing’ down better than most companies.

Nike has dominated the performance and active wear market since I was a little kid. They did, however, fall asleep at the wheel and Under Amour was able to penetrate the market in a very viable and relevant way.

What did they need to do to create distance and differentiation? They focused on consumers and community creation. The development of the FuelBand allowed them to connect products and services into a community of competition that joins people from all over the world. In short, they are selling products disguised as an integrated services offering.

The Wrap-Up

Tesla, Wholefoods & Nike have done a great job in understanding the prevailing movements in our society, and have built products that align with these movements.

As you are building the next great idea, make sure that it’s relevant and useful, but most importantly reflects the culture you are seeking.

 Stay Hungry & Hustle Hard!

 Gary

The 1 Risk You NEVER Want To Take

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Freshman year in college I had a crush on this girl Suzanne. HUGE crush. She was in a class I took and my stomach was literally in knots the entire semester. I was so afraid to talk to her it was ridiculous.

I would sit across the room and it appeared that we would catch eyes and she would give me a big smile. My response, naturally, was to immediately turn my head and look away. She must’ve been smiling at someone else. Or maybe she was trying to be polite. Then she would do it again… maybe she was just trying to be polite again… I couldn’t risk it. Yeah, it wasn’t worth the risk.

Senior year I ran into her at a party and needless to say, we hooked up. I couldn’t believe it! We were hanging out in my room that night and she told me she had dreamed about this moment since freshman year. What the f**k??

I remember the moment she said that I was elated, and pissed at the same time… pissed at myself of course as I had been dreaming about it too!! What a moron I had been! She could’ve been my girlfriend all this time! Needless to say, I wasted four years because I had absolutely no idea how to face fear. Strike one…

Strike Two

When I had my first fashion company, there was a female buyer who would come to our booth in Vegas at the semi annual tradeshow to buy our line… I had the biggest crush on her it was insane… story sound familiar? Anyway, blah, blah, blah, I was scared out of my mind and just couldn’t take the risk. Yeah, it wasn’t worth the risk.

14 years later (yes four-teen) I ran into her… and we hooked up. Guess what? She said the same thing! Holy sh*t! What a moron I was! … and this one was marriage material!! This time, however, I was married to my business so the timing wasn’t right. I wasted fourteen years because I wasn’t willing to take a risk and didn’t know how to overcome rejection.

This happened over and over again in my personal life and in business… until it didn’t.

A Call To Action For Anyone with A Dream

 You want to know the only risk in life? The 1 risk you never want to take? Please listen…

 The only risk in life is… to never take one.

I read a post the other day from a guy that shares a lot of our content at Hustle Branding on a regular basis. His name is Timothy Van Sype. He has been very loyal to us over the past few years. I stumbled across a post he wrote today and it turns out he… well I’m not gonna spoil the story, read the post here.

I have seen people who haven’t followed their dreams and have chosen to take the safe route and it is a very ugly picture. There is a tremendous amount of regret and a ton of resentment for those who convinced them not to go after what they want.

The truth is that there should be no resentment as it’s your choice, not theirs. Do not let anyone ever stand in the way of pursuing your dream. If you have a dream, find a way to make it happen or at the very least find a way to try. At least then, you will never have any regrets.  A few weeks ago I did a post about a speech that Jim Carrey made that summed it up perfectly. It’s called The Courage To Fail at What You Want

Single and 44

At the time of this writing I am single. I am single, largely in part because I refuse to let anyone stand in the way of going after what I want. That’s the selfish part. Here’s the selfless part… I used to not be single. I used to not be single a lot. Every woman I have ever had has had to settle for second place and that is not fair to them. To be more clear, I was not fair to them.

I am quite certain there will be a time in my life that I will be ready to take the risks and not put anyone in second place while I’m doing it. Now just happens NOT to be that time.

No Time But The Present

I have made a ton of mistakes in my life both in business and personally but as my man, The Shark, Daymond John says, if you are not making mistakes you are not making moves. I shot a video with him about how to learn from failure a few months back.

I encourage you to take the risk to go after your dreams. I encourage you to take those dreams and put a plan together and set some goals to turn those dreams into reality. In my last post, I talked about something Denzel Washington said to a bunch of kids at an acting class on the 2 ingredients you need that will teach you how to achieve your goals. It is also something that Think and Grow Rich and some of the greatest business books and business minds have repeatedly said.

I write this post with extra passion today because I hate to see people living someone else’s dream. Some people very close to me are and it kills me as, like I said, meeting people who failed to go after their dreams is an ugly picture. They are like the walking dead. Every person has a dream or at least had one a long time ago that maybe they have since forgotten on his or her journey. If you are one of those people, remember, it’s never too late. The right time to live your life the way you want to live it is always right now.

Live your dreams, hustle your ass off and know that failure is just part of the journey. And also know… one never truly fails until they give up.

Have a great day and Hustle hard,

MJ