Most mornings, unless he’s busy, I have the great pleasure of taking a walk with a friend who happens to be a world leading expert on branding. Over the years, I have learnt a great deal from him about the practical aspects of branding, how to influence potential customers, maintain brand loyalty, and importantly about the placement of brands to attract attention and keep ahead of the competition. I recently asked him if it was OK for me to share some of his insights with you. He very generously said yes.

Branding, he said, begins with integrity: a seamless unity between the brand and what it stands for. Break this link and the value of the brand plummets. Closely behind integrity comes consistency. The brand must always be used in ways that are recognisable by potential and actual customers. Among other things, this encourages brand loyalty: a sense of order and certainty in an uncertain and constantly changing world. Something you can depend on and recognise from place to place as an indicator that in a fragile world some things remain the same and can be found in many locations within the marketplace.

What often strikes me on our morning walks is how much emphasis and expertise he devotes to brand placement. He gives very careful attention to the location of the brand in the marketplace. In his daily work, he says, he constantly checks to ensure that the brand he is responsible for is always located in positions that will attract customers’ attention. Often, he says, he has to test the performance, credibility, and standing of rival brands to ensure that the brand he is responsible for is more noticeable, more prominent, and more desirable than those of his rivals. Vigilance, he says, is the key.

I must admit that I used to think that branding was a trivial matter, best left to marketing types who were constantly looking for ways to justify their being, but with no real contribution to make to our social existence. I have learnt otherwise from my friend, and I thank him for that.

By the way, I should mention his name. It’s Max, a dear, long-standing friend of the family.

Walkies, Max?