When we think of today’s biggest brands, we tend to think of the Starbucks, Nikes and BMWs of the world. We’ve been exposed to these big brands so much that we forget how they initially carved out their places; by being different.
In 1971, when three students at the University of San Francisco founded Starbucks, the average cup of coffee was twenty-five cents, tasted the same no matter where you bought it, and came with free refills. After some experimentation, Starbucks created an entirely new “cafe” experience, one where coffee quality actually mattered, you could relax with friends, and where you’d gladly pay $4.75 for a venti caramel macchiato.
In 1964, when Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight founded Nike at a time when it was difficult for athletes to find footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories made specifically for their sport. Nike built brand loyalty by associating its products with famous athletes and emphasizing design and performance.
BMW was founded in 1917 as a motorcycle and engine manufacturing company. In 1959 the company nearly went bankrupt. Then they began to produce “the ultimate driving machine”. While that wasn’t the original tag line, BMW focused on building cars that were more than mere transportation and have built a loyal following of consumers willing to pay far more for a BMW than most other auto companies can get for their models.
The point is that you have to look back to the emergence of a great brand to realize that innovative thinking almost always precedes brand success. It’s not about the name or the logo. It’s not about simply beating the competition. It’s about creating a new experience that nobody else is providing your target audience, filling a need or solving a problem that other companies have failed to identify opportunity and capitalize upon.
Only by looking in the rear view mirror do we see the obvious opportunities from which these brands originally emerged. Identify and project the unique experience that makes your brand stand out and your company could be the next big brand.