When we talk about building brands today, we have plenty of history to reference. From the members of the century club led by Kellogg’s and Procter & Gamble to the relative youngsters like Microsoft, each successful brand story provides us with a richness of learning we would be foolish to ignore.

Imagine if the founders of Arm & Hammer nearly 150 years ago had the knowledge of advertising, marketing, merchandising and public relations we have now. Talk about an unfair advantage!

So why is it that despite everything we know, regardless of all the history we can call upon for advice and guidance, creating and introducing a new brand remains the single most difficult thing to do in modern business. In fact, only out of every 1,000 brands that come to the marketplace in 2003 will still be around in 2004.

They say knowledge is power. That’s true, unless, of course, you’re attempting to bring down an established brand. We are speaking of those brands customers depend on as if they were old friends. These are the brands with a personality. Successful brands that forge a bond with customers so strong, the power of knowledge alone cannot break it.

Needless to say, if you have a brand that’s 5 years old, 50 years old, or 500 years old, and you have customers who know it and rely on it, who pay to use it and will recommend it to others, it would be best to keep an eye on it. Please, never take it for granted. It is the most important business asset you will ever own. Consider this: in the R.J. Reynolds buy out back the 80’s, the brand name “Oreo,” just those four letters, was calculated as being worth five times more than the capitalized value of all the bakeries that produced the cookies..

So how do you hang on to this invaluable asset? How do you protect it? How do you build on a brand and make it an even more frequent choice? Well, it would be a good idea to have people around you who understand it’s value, conscientious, dedicated people, relentless in their pursuit of success. These people, in simpler times, were often called “brand champions.” Today, we have another name for them: brand stewards, or. more specifically, 360 degree Brand Stewards.

This is an idea that, literally and figuratively, looks at the concept of brand management from every possible perspective. The Stewardship process begins with careful analysis to define precisely what makes your brand different–what it stands for now, its customer appeal, it’s personality, and potential. Then, with this data in hand, you and your can move on to identifying new opportunities, possible threats and effective responses as well as business building ideas that encompass every touch point with customers, the full 360. Wherever the brand meets the customer, at the point of sale or in the media, a Brand Steward will be there to help you the deliver the right message.

Sometimes, your brand may need totally new creative work that enriches it’s image, or gives it a bold new look. Other times, the solution may require staying the course but with a new twist. In either case, the right result will require people working together, all on the same page, with clear goals and objectives; stewards who never take there eyes off the brand.

Knowledge. History, Learning. Experience. And stewardship. They are very powerful tools, indeed, and today you can never have enough.

Allan Ross is President of AJ Ross Creative Media, a full-service global advertising, marketing and public relations agency celebrating their 20th year in business located in Chester, NY. A former NYC session musician, jingle writer and producer, Ross parlayed that experience into the development of a full-service strategic marketing agency. AJ Ross offers brand development, print, radio, and TV advertising production, graphic design, website development, and public relations. Some of AJ Ross’s accounts include Orange County Tourism, Hudson Heritage Federal Credit Union, Finkelstein and Partners, Jacoby and Meyers amongst others. To learn more about AJ Ross Creative Media, visit