By Marcus Leach

The inspirational Robert Bean, of the Robert Bean Branding Company, spoke today (Tuesday) at the latest Like Minds Breakfast meeting, examining the notion of branding.

Robert said that in order to understand anything in life you need to trace it back to its origin. In terms of of the word brand it can be traced to the old Norse word, brandr, which means 'to burn'. This can be slightly misleading, until you examine the use of the word, to burn or brand with a burning coal, trademarking your cattle for example in the Norse sense of the word.

A few other explanations offered by Bean were that a brand is the worth of a business beyond the value of of its tangible assets, or more simply, a brand is promises delivered.

However, it is his own take on branding that is perhaps the most interesting. Bean argues that businesses are in three parts. Firstly culture, then the product/service they offer, and finally reputation (90% of that is managed reputation).

If you can understand that everything that ever happens in a business lands in these three sections, then you can begin to see clear principles develop. Once you have your three sections, you need to bring them altogether with a 'glue'. Once the three merge, into a Venn diagram, you have the middle section that is key, the single organising principle.

This must come from the truth of who you are, the guts of the company and the deep values. It moves arguments away from right and wrong, to good, better, best. You make decisions in accordance with the principles that you have decided to live by.

All the powerful brands have an outstanding product, and a very clear sense of what they are about. Without that their is misalignment between the circles, which ends up losing a business money. If you get the perfect alignment right you are on to a winner, you are aerodynamic and efficient.

Bean says that alignment equals efficiencies, which in turn equals greater profitability. And it is the 'ability' part that is key, as BEan says, it only gives you the ability to be more profitable, you still have to work to get the end results.

Ultimately Bean's Venn diagram and focus enables decisions to be made that add value to the business.

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