The brand formula
What’s a brand?
I think it is the product of two things:
[Prediction of what to expect] times [emotional power of that expectation].
If I encounter a brand and I don’t know what it means or does, it has zero power. If I have an expectation of what an organization will do for me, but I don’t care about that, no power.
Fedex is a powerful brand because you always get what you expect, and the relief you get from their consistency is high.
AT&T is a weak brand because you almost never get what you expect, because they do so many different things and because the value of what they create has little emotional resonance (it sure used to though, when they did one thing, they did it perfectly and they were the only ones who could connect you).
The dangers of brand ubiquity are then obvious. When your brand is lots of things (like AOL became) then the expectations were all over the place and the emotional resonance started to fade. If the predictability of your brand starts to erode its emotional power (a restaurant that becomes boring) then you need to become predictable in your joyous unpredictability!
If you want to grow a valuable brand, my advice is to keep awareness close to zero among the people you’re not ready for yet, and build the most predictable, emotional experience you can among those that care about you.