Most brand values are garbage

When Steve Jobs took back the reins at Apple, one of the first things he did was establish his company’s core values by asking, “who do we want to be?”. It wasn’t about making great products or even marketing; he would say it was who, at their heart, Apple should be. Today with too many brands pinching brand horseshit about their brand values, it might be a great time to ask, “what are our core values?”.

We were pitching a new client a couple of weeks ago, and before the presentation, we received a deck on what the brand meant to customers. It was, to put it nicely, pure garbage.

Too many brand marketers believe rubbish about what their brand represents blah blah blah. Here’s news to most brand marketers; your brand is nothing more than convenience to your customers. Do you think anyone cares where Starbucks gets their coffee beans? The answer is “no.”

Take a look at Apple. One could argue that since Steve Jobs passed from this world, innovation has stopped. Every year, a new iPhone with a slightly better camera or new laptops with fresh chips. The Mac operating system has not been overhauled in over 20 years and is falling against competitors. Top talent is leaving Apple, and their online presentations have become self-promotional star fests.

It may be time to ask, “what does our company stand for?”. Even with its lack of innovation, Apple is still one of the top companies for customer service. Bad iPad? They will replace it free of charge and even transfer everything for you. Try getting help for a Microsoft product. It’s almost impossible to talk to someone in person.

For 99% of products, consumers could care less about the brand values. To them, it’s a matter of the convenience of knowing they will get a good frozen pizza or cup of coffee. When someone spends time on “what our brand means to consumers,” they usually are delusional.

When I started business school to get my MBA, I disagreed with one of my professors, who spewed garbage about conveying your brand’s value. In some product categories, that might be true, but for the vast amount consumers purchase every day, it doesn’t mean a damn thing.

Look at the auto market for a product category where brand values may have some meaning. Subaru has a solid brand following because they make cars that last a long time and appeal to a specific market segment. What are Mercedes and BMWs brand values? I can’t name them except that they make expensive cars that are overpriced.

Do yourself a favor and skip the self-promotional garbage on what our brand means to consumers. It means either a good-tasting pizza, a great cup of coffee, or a consistent-tasting burger.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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