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Eventually, someone else builds a better product based on superior technology and steals your position, or at the very least, dilutes it. To build a brand on a product or technology is putting the cart before the horse. Price and quality are unsustainable points of differentiation. By delivering on the benefits, as opposed to features, a brand can focus on owning a mindset position instead of a product position. This encourages innovation and as such your brand reflects its potential not its confinements.

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23 Responses to “Lamisil For Sale”

  1. The headline should read "Your Product Is Not Your Brand." As it is currently phrased, it is incorrect. Products do indeed have their own brands.

    Apple did not invent the MP3 player, nor was it first to bring it to market. Nevertheless, the iPod is a product with its own brand, and Apple has not confused its corporate brand with the brand of its successful product.

  2. blackcoffee says:

    Jeffry,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and great example with the iPod!

    We're not saying that products don't have their own brands. Apple's brand architecture supports many sub-brands, from the Mac, to the iPod and iPhone. What we are saying is that the product is not the brand itself (Hence: A product is NOT a brand). As you stated, "Products do indeed have their own brands." The key word in your statement is "HAVE."

    While our statements are very different, I don't see them as being mutually exclusive. Products have brands (true). However, a product is not a brand and a brand is not a product.

    Cheers,
    Laura Savard
    Brand Expressionist®

  3. I understand the article's main point about the distinction between a product brand and a corporate brand, and agree with it. However, I believe it would be more accurate to say, "Your product is not your brand, and your brand is not your product." Or, "A product is not your brand." Or even, "A branded product is not your brand."

    The statement about how "a product is not a brand" rings false in any context. Essentially everything that is a noun (people, places, things) can — and probably do — have brands.

    • blackcoffee says:

      Jeffry,

      The difference seems to revolve around whether products ARE brands or whether they HAVE brands. My guess is that we disagree on the definition of "BRAND." We define a brand as an experience that lives at the intersection of promise and expectation. Your products are a way to deliver upon that promise (as stated above).

      Of course, you are entitled to your opinion and I encourage you to post your definition here: http://www.blackcoffee.com/blog/a-brand-is/

      I look forward to hearing how you define "brand."

      Cheers,
      Laura Savard
      Brand Expressionist®

  4. I'm choking on the semantics of "are" vs. "have." I don't understand the distinction.

    I don't disagree with your definition of "brand," but I fail to see what excludes a product from having/being a brand? Can't separate products have their own "promises" and "expectations?" Back to Apple… Don't consumers have unique expectations for iTunes vs. iPods vs. iMacs vs. Mac Book Pros, etc. (and I'm not talking about feature expectations)? Sure they all share some elements of the greater Apple brand, but don't they have all their own "experiences."

    Can't people have different feelings about the experiences, promises and expectations of "Apple" vs. "iPods?" — especially if the markets are different? Is Apple targeting everyone who buys iPods, and vice versa?

    What about a house of brands? Is Proctor & Gamble a brand, but its products like Charmin, Tide and Ivory are not brands? Is there no such thing as "sub-brands?" Are there only corporate brands, where products are just a way to build those brands?

    Can't people have different feelings about the experiences, promises and expectations of "P&G" vs. "Charmin?"

    • blackcoffee says:

      Jeffry,

      A product is a thing (tangible) whereas the brand is peoples' expectations and experiences about that thing (intangible).

      Let's use the iPod example you provided earlier. There are no less than four unique products under the iPod "sub-brand." These include the iPod shuffle, iPod nano, iPod classic, iPod touch and the iPhone has an "iPod app." Each of these products has vastly different functions and, it can be argued, different experiences. After all, the iPod touch allows interactive gaming and the iPod shuffle doesn't even have a screen.

      What has made it possible for these products to grow and evolve under the same brand is that Apple encourages product innovation that reflects its brand rather than extracting its brand values from its products.

      Cheers,

      Mark Gallagher
      Brand Expressionist®

      • So a product is tangible and therefore can't have a brand because brands are intangible? It still isn't making sense. Are you saying anything tangible can't have a brand? Are you saying anything tangible can't have intangible qualities?

        When someone thinks about "iPods" (regardless of which model), isn't there a common set of "expectations and experiences" that most people will have? Do those "expectations and experiences" only flow exclusively from the Apple parent brand? Why can't the intangible idea of "iPods" have a set of "expectations and experiences" unique-yet-similar to the other products/services offered by Apple and its parent brand?

        Go back to the Proctor and Gamble example and explain how Charmin (which is a tangible product) isn't a brand. Don't people have expectations about their Charmin experience? What expectations do people have from the P&G brand that apply to their Charmin toilet paper?

        Then explain how a Ford Mustang (a tangible product) and a Chevy Corvette aren't brands.

        You can argue all day long that Charmin, iPods, Mustangs and Corvettes [aren't/don't have] brands, but the only people who might think this makes any sense are branding experts highly-sensitive to the semantics of this unique nomenclature. I'd venture to guess that most folks on the client side would say Charmin, iPods, Mustangs and Corvettes [are/have] brands …certainly the people managing those brands (or "product line," if you prefer).

        The one thing we seem to agree on is that a product (and its brand, if you believe it has one) should not drive the parent/corporate brand.

        • blackcoffee says:

          Jeffry,

          I understand that you believe that the brand and the product are one and the same, and you are entitled to your opinion. Clearly we disagree. I don't believe there is anything I could say that would change your mind. You've made up your mind, and this discussion is not adding value to the readers of this post. So, I'll leave you with this.

          "A brand is not a product: it is the product's source, its meaning, and its direction, and defines its identity in time and space."—Jean-Noel Kapferer

          Cheers,

          Mark Gallagher
          Brand Expressionist®

  5. Ken Peters says:

    Guys,

    Another great piece. I agree. Brands can no longer compete on cost or speed alone because there is always competition willing to cut corners to do it cheaper and faster. You may have built a better mousetrap, but consumers aren't going to care how much thought you put into engineering the tension ratio of the spring to ensure the velocity of the strike. If you want to sell mousetraps you need to market the dead mouse.

    Ken Peters,
    Nocturnal Design

  6. @tomasacker says:

    A commodity is not a brand, since it is undifferentiated.

    An undifferentiated product has the same basic economic characteristic of a commodity and therefore is also NOT a brand (even though it may have a name, logo, etc.).

    Most people believe that most products are undifferentiated.

    Therefore, MOST products are NOT brands.

    Thanks for the mental gymnastics. :)

  7. @MCSinMotion says:

    Blackcoffee,

    Enjoy your site as I find value in all your articles.

    The conversation above is a prime example of the business we are in. Taking a simple idea and communicating it in a simple way for people to understand. Sounds so simple, but can become so complex…

    I agree with the article as I find private label brands such as Kirkland and Up & Up becoming more prevalent. Brands working to create a story behind their family of products.

    Keep the articles coming.

  8. Todd Hall says:

    @Jeffry,

    You obviously agree with what they are saying yet you seem to be hung up on a single word so your position seems unclear and argumentative. Can you help clarify? Are you defining the product as the "brand"?

    Thanks for your input.

    -Todd

  9. @apowerpoint says:

    "Brands are right brain; products are left brain: Emotions vs. Features."

    We decide emotionally and then defend that decision rationally. Why did you REALLY buy that car vs. what you tell people was the reason.

    In fact, recent brain research suggests that we can't decide anything without emotional input. Thus it seems that brands play the role of triggering emotions and products focus on feature sets. So it might be said that brands are nothing more than an emotional shortcut to a decision. Apple attaches emotion to each of its product lines, hence creating a 'branded product.' Early mp3 players failed to find a way to stimulate emotions and focused on GBs and other factoids.

    Maybe….
    Products without emotions are a commodity.
    Emotions without features can't be sold.

  10. Todd Hall says:

    @Jeffry,

  11. Kelly Smith says:

    A Brand is "the gut feeling" a person has about the product or company or service (The Brand Gap-Neumeier) not the product, logo, company or service itself. Its is definitely what the consumer thinks about it too, not what management says it is.

    Excellent article. Thanks

  12. One of the keys to this absorbing discussion is what the definition of a brand is, and to that matter, a product, how it evolves and when a product becomes a brand. Certainly a product is not a brand when the consumers makes an initial purchase, how can it be when consumers define brands?

    The initial purchase may be a result of a (very expensive) marketing activity but the development of the relationship with the prospect will be a result of the product delivering on promises made across all touchpoints and not just in communications. And also key are sustainability and customer profitability. These take investment in resources and time to establish. And, despite the huge acquisition costs, few companies invest enough here.

    I agree that the first to market concept is not a strategy. Sadly, this is almost the holy grail for many companies despite the reality that few companies are ever the first to market and the resources spent on finding such a position would be better off invested in owning the customer experience, especially service.

    I don't think brands should try to own a mindset, that is so mass economy and anyway, how many mindsets are empty in your mind?

    According to Ernst & Youg, 80 – 90% of products fail to become brands, this despite US$1.5 trillion spent on marketing every year. This is because companies, advised by agencies continue to invest heavily in outdated models such as positioning that attempt to find space in consumer minds and plant the desire for the product there blah blah blah.

    As you so rightly point out, you can be the cheapest, offer the best terms, get a product to market quicker but at some stage a competitor will do all of these better. What a competitor cannot duplicate is the relationship you have with the consumer.

  13. Alex says:

    Yawn….. of course a product can have a brand and a product can be a brand… the coca cola brand is very different to the diet coke brand – iut is perhaps as you might say a 'sub' brand but an individual brand with individual expectations as a result – otherwise why do they have such very different advertising campaigns.

    The same could be said for Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max – according to my friend (an IT QA product mgr in her 40s) an avid Diet Pepsi drinker – she won't touch Pepsi Max, even though to me: a non Pepsi afficionado they seem exactly the same thing: a sugarless fizzy cola type drink – they are in fact TOTALLY different.

    I hesitate to say it but surely this is an example of of individual products having their own brands (i.e. that intangible essence of an experience that lives at the intersection of promise and expectation?) No?

  14. blackcoffee says:

    Alex,

    Wow! This may be the first time we, or perhaps anyone, bored someone into responding.

    Individual products may HAVE their own brands, however, those products ARE not the brand itself any more than I am my name. For example, I have a cousin named Mark Gallagher. Same name, different guy.

    I believe Marcus Osborne's comment summed it up well "Certainly a product is not a brand when the consumer makes an initial purchase, how can it be when consumers define brands?"

    Cheers,

    Mark Gallagher
    Brand Expressionist®

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