Branding gives competitive advantage over rivals.
My friend runs a courier business with three selling points: reliable delivery; speed; price. My friend, like many, thinks this is a brand. My friend is wrong, for this is a functional business with no brand, its three selling points are functions, that appeal to the left side of the brain.
A rival courier can defeat my friend in two ways: by improving on the three left-brained functions of reliability, speed and price; or by adding a right-brained activity of branding to his selling points.
Why is branding effective?
People have two sides of the brain: the left brain that is intellectual; the right brain that is emotional. Roughly two thirds of people use their right-brain to make decisions (the emotives), the rest are left-brained (intellectuals). Branding is a right-brained activity. A business with effective branding can capture two thirds of the market (the emotive decision makers) of a better priced non-brand rival.
Examples of a brand
The more ways the right-brain is activated the stronger the brand. One way is by association. Nike is associated with sport and victory. People who drive Landrover Discovery live exciting, happy and successful lives. People who use the rival courier brand care about their customers and their own families. Emotives are seduced by associations.
Why a brand can be like a religion
Some brands, if they use multiple ways to activate the right-brain will create a following. Three aspects of human nature are: they are tribal, they follow patterns, they mimic others. A brand can play on these three aspects of human nature by a clever combination of words, images and associations, all activating different parts of the right-brain, thus creating a mentality as like a religion. People who buy Nike shoes will buy Nike sunglasses and Nike underpants – they are the Nike tribe following the Nike religion.