It’s a new world out there, scooter. Increasing the power of your brand to generate sales is the number one business marketing challenge. What it takes is a change in thinking.

Change can bring more value than staying the same. Being able to put everything on the table and say “We may never use any of this again” is a radical idea for most organizations. Sure, it’s scary, but let’s say your organization has been stalled for four straight years and there are no new advancements planned. Would you consider that a safe strategy?

Change can be worth cultivating into any organization. Because, despite its challenges, if you play your innovations right, you can take advantage of what comes from this spirit of adventure. Before the market has a chance to take advantage of you. And unfortunately, that’s been happening a lot lately.

If you’re having trouble getting customers and prospects involved in your brand, you’re not alone. The usual methods of developing and managing a brand are suspect if you are in this position. Perhaps it’s time to make some mental shifts about your brand.

Like the law of gravity, principles have always existed. They are always in force whether you choose to recognize them or not. And they will affect the outcome of all of your efforts whether or not you intend them to. In other words, a principle will kick you in the butt when you least expect it! In this brave new brand world there are four branding principles (or Cues as we like to call them at MarketCues) that you might want to consider as laws.

Cue Number 1: Ownership A – Your customers and prospects own the brand, not your company. Hey, you say, that’s not fair! I’m the one who put in all of the work to get “MY” brand to where it is today. Right, that’s the problem. As long as it is your brand you will forever look at all of your branding decisions from your perspective, not your customers and prospects, and that is why most brands fail and never make it to star status.

Cue Number 2: Ownership B – Companies own brand assets. They are the rightful receiver of the accolades that arise as a result of the brand they own and manage. They are also the rightful owner of the financial rewards that are produced from an outstanding brand. This is rewarding. Tim Cooke, CEO of Apple, Inc. gave a recent interview to Business Week/Bloomberg and said,

“In creating these great products we focus on enriching people’s lives—a higher cause for the product. These are the macro things that drive the company. They haven’t changed. They’re not changing. I will not witness or permit those changes because that’s what makes the company so special.” (Full article here)

Cue Number 3: Value – No value is realized until your brand is chosen in a purchase or used in a personal or business situation. Sorry, but the measure of a brand is how often is it chosen and preferred. Based on buying criteria of customers and prospects is the true measure of a brand’s value. High use equals high value, and vice versa.

Cue Number 4: Differentiation – A winning brand is distinctive to customers and prospects. They choose a particular brand over every other brand in the marketplace based upon a particular distinction. The more powerful the brand differentiation, or distinction is, the more potential it has to break out from the crowd. Making your brand’s differentiator simple to understand is critical.

Branding is as much about aligning your brand to meet people’s needs than helping your employees understand they are there to serve your customers and prospects. Somehow this concept is understood on a sales level but is lost in branding. To make this truly work brand promises have to be used every day. In reality, they are going to be used or misused at every brand touch point. The question is if you are prepared to put your customers and prospects first, including your brand, and move your organization toward serving their needs? If you do, you’re on your way to high brand value.