Jon Christoph Berndt®


The Brand Is the Foundation for the Success of All Companies and Products

Branding is what you notice about attractive companies and products; you feel how they appeal to you. Strong brands are doing their marketing right—the advertising is an ongoing investment in the brand itself. Branding is how a product differentiates itself from its competitors, how it becomes desirable, how buying it becomes a pleasure. If done right, nobody expects a discount. The company increases its sales and profitability.

The word "brand" originates from "branding", i.e. "marking", which was used by cowboys in the American Midwest. After a long day’s work, they were too tired to separate their cattle from the other guys’ before they could settle around the campfire and have a smoke. They often had arguments: After all, one cow looks much like the other. So they started marking their cattle with signs and symbols to make the end of the day that much easier—now they could take their place around the campfire, light-up, and share their stories much more quickly. When we picture the cowboys sitting around the campfire with the setting sun in the background, we instantly picture them having a smoke. Of course they’d be enjoying the brand with the red packaging, the white type and the prominent triangle. (However, this is all just a figment of our imagination. Instead of a cigarette, they usually enjoyed a stiff whisky.)

In today’s terms, the cattle have become the company, and the brand is now the logo. More than a century ago, American advertisers started branding their companies to give them an unmistakable image. The various methods they developed made companies like General Electric, Kellogg’s, IBM, Heinz, and Budweiser stand out from the crowd and become household names all over the world. We here in Europe never asked ourselves why. After the Second World War, the consultants came to Europe with their branding methods in tow and started to make companies and products like Würth and BMW, Ricola and Lindt, Voest Alpine and Voith stand out from the crowd and grow as quickly and expansively as the American brands before them. Everyone knows these brands today—even if some have, in the meantime, bitten the dust.
Successful companies, those which are still here and want to stay that way, use the mechanics of branding to reach the most valuable resource: the people. Employer Branding, or the creation of an attractive company image, is what makes young engineers more eager to work for the international automotive supplier Brose based in Coburg—right in the middle of Germany’s nowhere—instead of working for BMW in the heart of Munich. Indeed in terms of employer attractiveness, Brose stands up well to the giants of the big city. They have understood to perfection how optimal branding turns a desirable brand into a prestigious one: By means of 1) clear positioning, 2) a huge amount of unceasing work and 3) masses of continuity.