Why Your Brand Is More Important Than Your Product

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC
6 min read

Push aside your business plan and stop obsessing over your product dimensions. First, you need to think about your brand.

“Product first is very retro, very 1980s. We have to put the idea first,” says Kevin Roberts, who has served as global CEO of advertising juggernaut Saatchi & Saatchi since 1997. Saatchi & Saatchi works with more than half of the biggest 50 advertisers in the world, including the likes of General Mills, Lexus, HSBC, Visa and Toyota.

Roberts says the first thing any entrepreneur needs to do is figure out how to get consumers to love you. He cites entrepreneurial legends like Richard Branson and Steve Jobs who found success by thinking first about what consumers want and then “backfilling” into a product. “You’d better start thinking about how you are going to create loyalty beyond reason before you start writing the mechanics of your plan.”

For those hustling to launch a business on a budget, he suggests getting a group of trusted friends together and start brainstorming. That’s the kind of brand development entrepreneurs need. “The passion of three people who care, they’ll get you started.”

When you have an idea, test it. Put it out to consumers on the Internet. Real feedback in real time isn’t expensive, he says. And if your idea fails, move on quickly and try again. But before you spend precious time working out the costings, the distribution and all of the other elements of your final product, make sure you’ve got an idea that sings.

“What you have got to do is to make your business promise irresistible. To do that, you need to be looking at the purpose, the dream. Because people want to be part of something bigger than themselves now.”

Watch this video to hear Roberts talk more about when and how entrepreneurs should be thinking about their brand.


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