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Which comes first - the chicken or the egg?

When you're creating a brand, which comes first - the meaning that the brandmaker assigns it or the meanings that consumers assign it? Ideally, it should be the meaning that the brandmaker assigns it. The brand owner should establish a vision for the brand and then work to sell that image to the public.

Some people believe that it is the opposite - the consumers assign the brand its meaning first and then the brand manager facilitates that co-creation between the customer and the brand. ("Classic marketing.") That may indeed happen.

But 9 times out of 10, when you are dealing with a strong brand, you are dealing with a brand where the owner had a vision for what it would mean and then imparted that vision to the outside world. Target, Starbucks, Nike, Microsoft, Oprah - all of these and more are examples of "classic branding."

It is true that "classic marketing" appears to be on the rise with Internet brands like YouTube and Google -- where the customer's input shapes the presentation of the brand nearly completely.

However, brands that endure impart an idea to the public and then keep the public engaged with the brand over time - it is not easy to create a substitute for them. That is what branding is all about - establishing a strong, distinctive meaning that customers can then work into their lives as an enduring symbol of something that matters to them.

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What is the difference between brand equity and brand parity?

Brand equity is a financial calculation. It is the difference between a commodity product or service and a branded one. For example if you sell a plain orange for $.50 but a Sunkist orange for $.75 and the Sunkist orange has brand equity you can calculate it at $.25 per orange.

Brand parity exists when two different brands have a relatively equal value. The reason we call it "parity" is that the basis of their value may be different. For example, one brand may be seen as higher in quality, while the other is perceived as fashionable.

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All opinions my own. Originally posted to Quora. Public domain photo by hbieser via Pixabay.

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