brandloveSince this is the month of love (although some may argue that), I think it is only fitting to revisit what makes brands lovable. Another way of putting that is what makes brands successful.

I have posed this question to clients and others to get them thinking more about what makes a brand great. Subsequently, as entrepreneurs, other business professionals, and leaders, this key question can help clarify what we want our own brands to represent and how we can distinguish it from the competition.

It never fails that for every group of 10 business owners and other professionals, at least 3-4 have never given any thought to which brands are their favorites. “That’s a good question Rachel” is what I’ve heard. “I’ve never thought about that” is another common response to this question.

Of course I have received some great answers that demonstrate how powerful effective branding can be. Let me share some of the answers to the favorite brand question I’ve gotten from small business owners who are building their own great brands:

  • Nordstrom’s: because they represent a premiere store and provide premiere service. This person loves Nordstrom’s because they make her feel special.
  • Cotton: because of the commercials, images, and tagline (“the fabric of our lives”). “It makes me feel comfortable,” said a lady from my mastermind group.
  • Beyonce: because of her work ethic, fierceness, and support of women.
  • Lego: because of their ability to innovate and adapt to change. They teach and inspire through their images and stories they tell. Those same images and stories are believed to support their brand.
  • Zappos: because of their awesome service and unique culture. The person who said Zappos was a favorite indicated the shoe seller is more in the business of delivering an excellent customer experience than in the business of selling shoes.
  • Blue Bell: because “I felt like even though it’s a southern brand and not sold everywhere, everyone I’ve ever met who has tried it LOVES it. Their product really does speak for itself! That and they, to me, have not cut corners on quality. Even though it’s more expensive now, it’s still the same rich taste I’ve always loved and is still a legit 1/2 gallon.” I thought the whole legit ½ gallon thing was a great observation. It’s a reminder that consumers notice “little things.” It’s also true that Blue Bell ice cream is not sold all over the country, but that doesn’t stop people from all over trying to get it!
  • Starbucks: because of the atmosphere they create for business and engagement. I, along with many others, don’t see Starbucks as just a coffee house. We see it as a cultural phenomenon, a place to connect in an authentic, grown-up way.
    Southwest Airlines: because of its focus on quality and efficiency. It’s no-thrills, low-cost but better-service-than-most-other-airlines definitely sets it apart. A fan of Southwest also said the quirkiness and sense of humor of the flight crew lessens his stress surrounding business travel.

There you go. Just some of the major brands out there and why they’re adored. What would it be like to have your own brand spoken of like this? Cultural phenomenon anyone? How about decreasing your clients’ stress level? Or perhaps like Lana Johnson, founder of VA Gladiator, whose favorite brand is Blue Bell ice cream, you’d love to have customers from across the country clamoring to get your product, even where it’s not typically sold. Can you get excited about that?

If so, let’s keep the conversation going. Share with me in the comments your own favorite brand and why. Also, feel free to tell me what makes (or what would make) your own brand a favorite among your customers.

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