Next up in Q&R’s The Big Question, in which we ask leaders in the communications sector to answer one big question, we interviewed serial Entrepreneur and ‘Brand Guru’ BJ Cunningham.

BJ famously created DEATH™ Cigarettes. He then established and sold an Integrated Brand Marketing agency and co-authored an international business best seller. He is now a Visiting Professor at Brighton University and a Board Level Brand Marketing Consultant to global brands. Concurrently, he established the luxury designer Women’s shoe brand Georgina Goodman, the bamboo cotton SocksoSimple brand and he travels internationally as a highly acclaimed key note speaker.

We asked BJ: What is the secret to branding?

Be Fearless. Be in Love.

Its sometimes useful to go back to the roots of something. Back to Basics.

A Brand is a promise. It is not a logo or a name. The name, logo, identity, profile etc. are just a vehicle for carrying the promise consistently into the minds of customers.

People are interested in ideas and loyal to promises. Not products. Not price points. Today’s market is a competition between ideas and promises. Good business is all about making and keeping promises.

The insight here is that you don’t control your brand. No company does. Brands do not exist on Boardroom tables or in Marketing Agencies. Brands exist in the minds of customers. What the customer believes to be true is true, until you change that belief.

From the perspective of brand then, all of an organisation’s business is ‘One Business’, from the boardroom to the bedroom of the customer. “You Are Your Customer”. If any aspect of the business along the whole supply chain does not live up to and reinforce the brand promise, the customer loses trust and seeks a more reliable promise elsewhere. Simple.

And so there are only two questions every company seeking to own a brand needs to ask: What is our Point? Why should anyone Care? The answers provide the DNA from which to tell a story and make a promise you can keep.

Why all this navel gazing? Because all branding and marketing is ultimately ‘sales foreplay’. It has to create the propensity to buy. It has to tickle and engage the customer.

There is only one conclusion to draw from all of this; ‘Treat your customer as you would have them treat you”.

And there is only one way in which you would want to be treated; in Love. And what is love? Love is the absence of fear, just as fear is the absence of love.

The secret to successful branding and marketing is Love.

This requires strong leadership, clear messages and unwavering communication. It means building from the inside out with authenticity, responsibility and transparency.

It means Being Who You Really Are not pretending to be something else that you think people want you to be. It means having the courage of your own conviction, standing for something and being relevant.

It means Being the Brand, your Brand.


#branding #marketing #deathcigarettes