A brand is what is on a man’s mind. It is the place you occupy relative to others and the sentiment attached to you. But this happens by strategy, not by chance. Really owning a positioning requires nailing down the essentials. This post takes a look at those essentials and focuses on a few examples of those who do it well.

Start with the substance.

All great brands have a core idea that roots their vision and enables them to plan a positioning relative to others. Core ideas can be based on things like company heritage, or perhaps clear values that resonant with the wider world. Some have an entire territory of expression or just are based on accurate segmentation. There are even those that derive their substance from having a famous work process. When it comes to putting names to approaches the likes of Apple stand out for their territory of expression (Think Different) and as does Patagonia for their clear values. In contrast you have Hermes who has built a substance based off of their heritage. In short, there are multiple ways to ground your substance.

Build an appearance.

Great, so now you have your substance in place what is next? Now you can start thinking about the look and feel of your communications. It is important to transform of your positioning into visual and verbal codes. These include the symbols or iconic shapes you associate yourself with. Equally, it could also be easily modifiable codes that enable you to feature in many different ways. Or simply it could be insightful language that sets your tone of conversation apart from others. Again, Apple has become an iconic shape, Nike has a set of visual codes and Burberry the same. At the same time, you have Monoprix in France that nails insightful language in a way its competitors can only envy.

Develop an experience.

These days brands literally live and die in the hands of consumers. So it is important for long term relevance that you really plan out what it is like to interact with your brand, ensuring you are cementing your substance at every touchpoint. Some pick an iconic offer or smart cobranding to deliver a memorable experience. Others, well they optimise around consistant everyday usage or projecting a way of life that people should desire to be part of. Lastly, don’t forget the some brands that are remarkable for their sense of innovation or good business sense. Whatever approach, there is a multitude of ways to develop an experience that is consistent and distinctive. Think about how Apple’s enlightened community has create an experience that is all about belonging to an elite group, or how Supreme uses tie-ins consistently to position on smart cobranding. Also, you could even look to the New York Times and the rise of Timesian as a way of life. These brands endure because they develop a strong multi-platform experience around their positioning,

Activating and expressing these elements is the art of brand management. If you do it well the end result is a brand that both identifies and is identifiable. I