Monday-Morning-Memo-Logo1By Roy H. Williams

“Getting your name out” isn’t worth much when there’s no mental image attached to your name. Unaided recall and top-of-mind awareness are excellent ways to measure name recognition, but they don’t tell you anything about the strength of a brand.

York, Lennox, Rheem, RUUD, Carrier, Bryant, Trane, Armstrong, Friedrich and Fedders are leading brands of air conditioners; you’ve probably heard of some of them. But do you have significant feelings about any of these companies? Although their executives would never believe it and their advertising agencies would violently deny it, these companies’ branding initiatives have failed.

But each of them thinks they have a strong brand.

Branding is much more than name recognition, a color scheme, a logo and a slogan. Brand essence is the complex mental image summoned by a name, even when that name is heard only silently in the mind. (Unlike a mere visual image, a mental image is a complex composite of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, opinion and mood.) Brand essence is everything a brand stands for in the heart of the customer.

What does your brand stand for in the heart of your customer?

Don’t mistake company size for brand strength. Wal-Mart and Dell are big, profitable companies, but neither of them is a particularly strong brand. (Low prices and quick delivery measure only operational excellence; they tell us nothing about the heart of the company or the devotion of its customers.) Conversely, Starbucks and Apple are smaller companies, but stronger brands.

The best branding campaigns ripple outward from a company’s core culture and non-negotiable standards. This brand essence is then transmitted through every contact point with the customer: advertising, merchandising, décor, staffing and policies. The degree to which your corporate values resonate in the heart of your customer is the measurement of the strength of your brand.

Your brand must be anchored to core values buried deep in the heart of your customer. To what values is your brand linked?

In his new video on Cult Branding, Wizard of Ads partner B.J. Bueno explains how the powerful Harley-Davidson brand wasn’t built on the motorcycle itself, but on the values of nonconformity and the freedom of the open road. Owning a Harley is a statement of rebelliousness and self-determination. It is a magical talisman that grants you entrance to the Island of Pirates.

Has there ever been a boy that didn’t dream of being a pirate?

Would you like to know what your brand stands for in the heart of your customer? Are you sure? The truth can be painful.

There’s only one way to accurately measure the essence and strength of a brand. If you’d like to know how to do it, just look for How to Measure the Strength of a Brand in the Freebies section at It’s just one more gift from your friends at Wizard Academy.

PS – If you need help applying what the Wizard teaches about branding campaigns, take a look at the new Secret Formulas advertising workshop at While you’re browsing, you might take a look at the updated and expanded Magical Worlds creative communications workshop as well. Don’t feel like sitting through 3 days of training? Want a private day of the wizard’s time? You can schedule that through me, Corrine Taylor, at (800) 425-4769 or email Corrine@WizardAcademy .com. 

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