What’s a brand? These days, what makes brands strong or not strong? I’ve been thinking and writing about that a bit, but I don’t think I’ve ever quite conceptualized it as well as Derek Thompson does in this article in The Atlantic. We’re all talking about the importance of “community.” The article describes a couple of successes in community building including Apple, probably the first one many of us think about. Please don’t be put off by the “cult” label.
What the article doesn’t directly address is the role of distribution. I wonder if he’d argue that distribution doesn’t matter much if your community is strong enough. Most brands, I still think, need to manage their distribution cautiously to build brand strength. But maybe, as I’ve suggested, merchandising is becoming more important than distribution. When “cool” brands go into Walmart, there’s certainly some of that thinking going around. Anyway, just some food for thought.