Timeless Brand Lessons From Bezos, Ogilvy, Buffet, Zuckerberg And More

The secret to powerful brands is the mindset of those that built them.

Photo: Jonha Revesencio, business strategist; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Jonha Revesencio, business strategist; Source: Courtesy Photo

Do you ever wonder how founders turn good ideas into profitable companies? High profile entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs built their companies from obscurity to internationally recognized brand names and their “secrets” are often hidden in plain sight.

The secret to powerful brands is the mindset of those that built them. The thought process proves to be a driving force behind the rise of iconic companies like Amazon and Microsoft – and it’s often found in the words of the founders themselves.

As such, there’s no better advice than the kind that has been tested and proven to work. So, here’s a look at seven quotes from notable entrepreneurs and insights you can use to build a stronger brand.


  1. Do hard things well.

    “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” — Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon

    Ever heard the phrase: “actions speak louder than words”? Sure! But have you applied it to your company? The best way to build a strong brand name is to do whatever it is you do, extremely well. When customers have positive experiences with your brand, they will become loyal customers, and their experiences will spread through word of mouth, attracting new customers. You can do all the brand-building you want, but if you don’t have a solid foundation, it will fall apart very quickly.

  2. Commit to the big ‘brand’ idea.

    “You now have to decide what ‘image’ you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place.” – David Ogilvy, “The Father of Advertising”, founder and Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather

    Create a clear vision of what you want your brand to be. As Ogilvy would likely say, stay committed to the “big idea.” Your marketing strategy should focus on shaping that ‘personality’ of your brand. For example, even things like pricing can influence the personality of your brand: High prices signal luxury and class, while low prices can signal affordability and accessibility.

  3. Deliver on your promise.

    “Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.” — Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

    To follow up on insight from Ogily, Buffet suggests that if you do decide to give your brand a high-class feel with high-class prices, you better be able to actually follow up with a high-class product or service. That is, if you want to be able to actually sell your product.

  4. Empower your team.

    “Empower your employees. When smart people are empowered—empowered to think, to execute, to travel, to be comfortable, to choose a lifestyle for themselves—they do amazing things. Over and over.” — Breanden Beneschott, Co-founder and COO of Toptal

    You are not going to build your brand all on your own; you need a great team. When the time comes, share your vision with your team, and give them the space they need to be amazing ambassadors of your brand. Everyone should be on the same page about the company’s identity and goals in order to maintain a congruent brand.

  5. The medium is the message.

    “Think about what people are doing on Facebook today. They’re keeping up with their friends and family, but they’re also building an image and identity for themselves, which in a sense is their brand. They’re connecting with the audience that they want to connect to. It’s almost a disadvantage if you’re not on it now.” — Mark Zuckerberg, Co-founder and CEO of Facebook

    What Zuckerberg says is true, except take out the “almost” and you’ll understand the full extent of what social media platforms like Facebook mean for your brand. If your company does not have a social media presence on platforms where your audience engages, like Facebook, you are losing prime branding opportunities. Having a Facebook presence isn’t just for teenagers and college students anymore; it’s a great way to get your brand out there and connect with your audience.

  6. Posts are perception.

    “Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.” — Amy Jo Martin, Founder and CEO of Digital Royalty

    These days, a company is so much more than the brand it conveys. Every member of your team has their own personal brand as well, and this can be a powerful tool if used properly. However, make sure your new hires are representative of your company culture. A team member, at any level, should be aware of their social interactions and how they can negatively impact the company’s brand by missing the mark on their personal brand.

  7. Good brands are backed by research.

    “As an entrepreneur, one of the biggest challenges you will face will be building your brand. The ultimate goal is to set your company and your brand apart from the crowd. If you form a strategy without doing the research, your brand will barely float – and at the speed industries move at today, brands sink fast.” — Ryan Holmes, Founder and CEO of Hootsuite

    Take your brand further with research. As TNS Global Head of Brand & Communication, Rosie Hawkins suggests: “Brand success is ultimately dependent on consumer behaviour – more people choosing your brand on more occasions. Understanding the true dynamics of decision making is therefore critical in order to deliver meaningful insight that can inform brand and communication strategy.”

Building a brand is hard work. In addition to requiring hard work, creating a brand takes time. It does not happen overnight. The important thing is to never forget what it is that makes your company stand out from the res, and focus on that.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Jonha Revesencio is a Business Strategist with over 8 years of experience developing digital media strategies for FMCG and tech companies. She’s a regular contributor on The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Lifehack and Fast Company. Connect with @jonharules on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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