Amazon Recognizes the Journey in Building Its Brand

We’ve devoted a fair amount of real estate to branding and the big companies who trip over their brand narratives in spite of massive resources.

Hello United.

Money doesn’t guarantee brand utopia.

But what about the companies who get it right? Inevitably, they understand there’s a journey to building a great brand.

Amazon offers a good example of this marathon mentality. By reverse-engineering Amazon’s boilerplates in news releases since its founding in 1994, we can see how the Amazon brand evolved over time.

Infographic - how the Amazon brand evolved

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Obviously, there’s a massive gulf between the 1994 brand position of “we love books” to today’s brand position “we sell everything known to mankind online including IT services and even make cool stuff like e-readers.”

But look at how Amazon executed on its brand journey.

Incremental steps.

Furthermore, the company showed discipline in ensuring that the brand position at any given point in time never got too far ahead of the reality. When the gulf between the brand position and reality grows too wide, the ugly “h” word (hype) surfaces.

Amazon reality - desired position

This can be one of the toughest challenges for alpha executives and their religious-like zeal to jar the status quo. There’s nothing wrong with an aggressive and grand vision as long as the current brand promise comes horse-shoe close to reality.

Check out Amazon’s first boilerplate (word-for-word from the news release): operates from headquarters in Seattle. The company maintains a staff of programmers, editors, executives, and all-around book lovers.

Two years later Amazon could credibly call themselves “earth’s biggest bookstore” leading into its IPO.

And even when flush with capital, Amazon stayed true to aligning its brand with the reality of what it delivered to customers.

In a world of “I want it now,” there’s something to be said for recognizing the journey in building a brand.

Note: A version of this post tailored for startups appeared on VentureBeat last month.

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