What is “a strong brand”

What is “a strong brand”


What is a brand? How do you measure it? What is the difference between “a brand” and “a strong brand”? If you want to build your own brand, this is a good place to start learning.

One of my favorite expressions regarding the brand is “brand is like the weather”. Because the weather always is… somewhat. The phrase “strong brand” is the same as “good weather” and you cannot have “no weather” just the same as you can’t have “no brand”. But what does “strong brand” mean exactly?

David Aaker’s 3A scale

The strength of the brand can be measured in various aspects. David Aaker, a professor at the University of California defines “3A” of the brand. If we assume the brand to be “a shortcut in the consumer’s mind” (Aaker speaks of “a box”), we can speak of:

  • Awareness – how many people know your brand and can tell exactly how are you different from the competition? Brand awareness is then divided into unaided (name three companies producing digital cameras) and aided (do you know company X? do you know what they produce?). The most preferable situation, of course, is to have high aided and unaided awareness. This is the point we should strive to achieve.
  • Associations & beliefs — what people know or think they know about your brand? Brands that are strong in this aspect are characterized by something called brand depth — the associations are built with multiple touch points instead of just one or a few. Red Bull, for instance, has a very simple product, but builds associations with sponsored sports events, extreme games or jumps from the edge of space… On the other end of the spectrum, we have “shallow” brands, their only touch point is the website.
  • Attitudes are the emotional skew of our brand. The customers might like it, admire it or hate it, but they also can be indifferent (which is the opposite of “strong brand”).
“Lovemarks” by Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts’ Lovemarks

And since we’re talking about emotions: Kevin Roberts, the president of Saatchi & Saatchi agency describes a concept that goes beyond having a good or a bad brand. Lovemarks (that’s the name of the concept and the title of the book) builds upon two sets of values: respect and love towards products or services. If we combine them, we get four segments that are named:

  • Commodities – low on respect and love. We use them but pay no attention to them. Public transportation or postal service fall into this category.
  • Fads attract love, but there’s little or no respect involved. The newest Rihana haircut (that you’ll change in two months) is a great example.
  • Brands in Roberts’ view are half-solutions: they command high respect but score low on love index. SONY in TVs or Toyota in cars are representatives of this category.
  • Lovemarks are supposed to be more than just brands. High love, high respect — consumers are willing to do much for them. Apple, Playstation, Tesla… Though for you they may be completely different.

You will not know unless you measure

Brands, strong brands, love marks – call them whatever you want, two things are very important when trying to create them. First: measure the results of your actions. Half of the marketers researched in 2015 stated they did not measure the results of their marketing campaigns. This is why I showed you the above indexes: they’re relatively easy to measure (aided, unaided awareness), so if you are going to spend money on marketing, ask yourself this: how are we going to measure it?

The other thing is integrity and consequence. Strong brands take years to build and having a long-term strategy gives you the advantage of not chasing ephemeral fads, trends, and fashions (yes, we have fads in marketing as well). Stick to the plan, modify it when it’s necessary and you have yourself a strong brand in the making.

Good luck!

Written by
Paul Skah