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You Need to Build an Extraordinary Brand and a 1,000 True Fans NOW

So, I was listening to a podcast where Karan Bilimoria was telling the Cobra Beer story. Now, just for reference, I don’t drink, but that’s not what I was interested in. Cobra Beer has an extraordinary story in that, Karan, with no experience in beer, beverages etc (apart from drinking of course), went on to build one of the most unique brands out there – chances are, even if you don’t drink, you’ll have heard about Cobra Beer. More importantly, with no experience, he managed to take on big dogs like Carlsberg and Guinness and much to their dismay, grab a seat at the top.
He gave great insight into his business and talked about, as people build businesses, more and more, they are building brands and it’s the brand that delivers the value.

That’s is interesting because Warren Buffet says:

“A truly great business must have an enduring “moat” that protects excellent returns on invested capital. The dynamics of capitalism guarantee that competitors will repeatedly assault any business “castle” that is earning high returns. Therefore a formidable barrier such as a company being the low-cost producer (GEICO, Costco) or possessing a powerful worldwide brand (Coca-Cola, Gillette, American Express) is essential for sustained success.” – Source

Wazza talks about brands being the value over and above any infrastructure a company might have – the infrastructure can be replicated, however a brand and the value it provides, often hard to quantify can prove to be extremely helpful when “protecting your business”.

“One of the most important, but undervalued, roles of marketing is to help protect a business, just as a moat protects a castle, by blunting competitive attacks and encouraging existing buyers to remain loyal. If you can hold share in a growing market you still make more money in the long run, and a loyal user base provides a great platform for new sorties of your own.” – Source

So Kazza’s six boxes to tick to build an extraordinary brand?

1. Tell a compelling story, that is based on an undeniable brand truth.

  • “Texture and taste of the product that is the brand truth – less gassy and goes perfectly with indian food and is really drinkable.”

2. Live by and refuse to compromise on your principles.

  • Do not let anyone or anything compromise your principles – integrity, honesty and trust take you far places.

3. Have an instantly recognisable look.

  • “You can all picture a bottle of Cobra; yellow, green, brown and embossed bottle, iconic look – example: Absolute Vodka.”

4. Deliver a unique, relevant, consistent experience.

  • Unique is different from everyone else – why do you want to create another cheap doughnut you can get in Tesco? Instead, create a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

5. Inspire people to become loyal brand champions.

  • “Brands where people will die for them out of loyalty – an example, you go to an indian restaurant and waiter brings you the menus and you open the menus and you decide what you would like and ask for “two Cobras please” – waiter replies, “sorry Sir, no Cobra’s” – you put the menus down and walk out of the restaurant. Because it’s ruined your experience.”

6. The brand delivers enduring, extraordinary profits.

  • Once everything has slotted in nicely, the brand delivers an enduring and extraordinary profit over time.


Apart from both Warren Buffet and Karan Bilimoria talking about how important a brand is within a business, It’s interesting that both Kazza and Wazza talk about having “… loyal brand champions”, “… encouraging existing buyers to remain loyal.” and “… a loyal user base provides a great platform…”

Kevin Kelly, the Co-founder of Wired Magazine talks about his 1,000 true fans theory. Here’s a snippet:

“A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.” – Source

Although Kevin Kelly talks about the 1,000 true fans in the context of art, the same applies to business – David Hieatt, the founder of Howies and Hiut Denim is a firm believer of this and promotes this in his workshops.

Just interesting that a lot of successful people generally talk about the same things.

Have fun building your brand.