Near-death experience shows we still need brands

Thanks to Richard my old INSEAD buddy in San Francisco for sending in the photo below of two Wal Mart own label products via

Screen shot 2010-10-20 at 10.38.14
One is sprayable cooking oil for pancakes. The other is furniture polish. Not good if they're in the same cupboard…seems several people had near-death experiences by getting the two mixed-up. I guess the problem was from polish-tasting pancakes, rather than buttery flavoured tables.

This extreme example is a nice reminder of why brands exist. Most brands are not here to create emotional connection and take us up the pyramid to self-actualisation. Consumer goods brands exist to help us choose quickly and confidently, and so simplify our busy lives.

True brands, as opposed to own label copy-cats, need to be the best at helping us make these choices. This requires:
– razor sharp positioning
– focusing on your core business that you are famous for
– creating, honing and enhancing brand properties – logos, colours, symbols
– carefully evolving pack design to refresh your brand

So, worth a check on your brand. How easy are you making it for shoppers to choose quickly and confidently?