Scott Bedbury (Strarbucks, Inc.) knows brands. The man who gave the world 'Just Do It' and Frappuccino, shares his eight-point program to turn anything - from sneakers to coffee to You - into a great brand.

1. A great brand is in it for the long haul
For decades we had great brands based on solid value propositions -- they'd established their worth in the consumer's mind. Then in the 1980s and 1990s, a lot of companies sold out their brands. They stopped building them and started harvesting them. They focused on short-term economic returns, dressed up the bottom line, and diminished their investment in longer-term brand-building programs. As a result, there were a lot of products with very little differentiation. All the consumers saw was who had the lowest price -- which is not a profitable place for any brand to be.

Then came Marlboro Friday and the Marlboro Man fell off his horse. Today brands are back stronger than ever. In an age of accelerating product proliferation, enormous customer choice, and growing clutter and clamor in the marketplace, a great brand is a necessity, not a luxury. If you take a long-term approach, a great brand can travel worldwide, transcend cultural barriers, speak to multiple consumer segments simultaneously, create economies of scale, and let you operate at the higher end of the positioning spectrum -- where you can earn solid margins over the long term.

2. A great brand can be many things
Some categories may lend themselves to branding better than others, but anything is brandable. Nike, for example, is leveraging the deep emotional connection that people have with sports and fitness. With Starbucks, we see how coffee has woven itself into the fabric of people's lives, and that's our opportunity for emotional leverage. Almost any product offers an opportunity to create a frame of mind that's unique. Almost any product can transcend the boundaries of its narrow category.

3. A great brand knows itself
Anyone who wants to build a great brand first has to understand who they are. You don't do this by getting a bunch of executive schmucks in a room so they can reach some consensus on what they think the brand means. Because whatever they come up with is probably going to be inconsistent with the way most consumers perceive the brand. The real starting point is to go out to consumers and find out what they like or dislike about the brand and what they associate as the very core of the brand concept.

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