Tony Stark IS Iron Man, are you the brand/product?

I just watched Iron Man 3 and ….

*possible spoiler alert!* 

Tony Stark in the Iron Man Suit
(image from google)

… they (the movie creators) leaned hard on the premise that Tony Stark, the man, the living breathing, brilliant sarcastic jerk who we all love so much, is Iron Man, and not the suit. It made me think about important it is to know what exactly your brand is and how hard it can be sometimes to separate the brand from the product. eg. In Barbados, “Pampers” refers to any type of device used on a child to collect waste. I actually had no idea that “Pampers” was a brand until I saw an ad on TV!

But let’s back up a bit, what’s the difference between a brand and a product? A brand is a name under which many items are produced eg. Adidas or HP. The items they produce are the products eg. the Adidas Clima (gawd those are great shoes!) or the HP Dv7 entertainment laptop.

Brands evoke a feeling in a customer or cause said customer to make a certain association/assumption when they think about it. eg. when you think NIKE you think good athletic gear; when you think converse you think funky cool sneakers; when you think Louis Vuitton, you think luxury. Brand names usually have a following and a dedicated customer base who are buying these products eg. Apple. This makes new product development a lot easier than looking for a new customer base each and every time. However, if your brand name is melded to your flagship product eg. Iron Man is the Suit, and said flagship product needs to be phased out, then you have a bit of a problem and you need to go on a re-association campaign to focus on what you need the customer to think the brand name is. (Also known as brand building) So in this case, perhaps Marvel wants to phase out the suits and focus more on Tony the person, so they spent roughly 130 mins reminding us that Tony Stark is the brand, not the suit. Now that the audience understands this, Tony Stark can open a tea shop and preach peace if he wants, it’ll still fall under the Iron Man brand as long as Stark does it.

So take a look at your brand, ask some customers, suppliers, friends, neighbours and see what your brand is really associated with, might not be what you expected. Maybe you have to distance your brand from it’s own “suit” so you’ve got some room to diversify, maybe you’ve got some brand building to do.

Have a productive Friday and great weekend and see you guys on Tuesday for “You are a Brand!”

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