What is a brand? What does a brand do for you? Why do you need a brand; or do you need a brand? How can a brand help drive business your way? Is all of this talk of brand overblown? Think of your company, what is its brand, how do customers know you? What do you stand for? How can you improve your company’s perception?
A brand is the cornerstone or anchor point of your customer experience, it seasons all dialogue about your organization, and it focuses your advertising efforts and promotional activity. The positioning and strength of your marketing framework flows from your brand. A strong brand is about truth and it must tie into your company’s strengths. A brand creates a distinctive and durable perception in the minds of consumers. It’s a unique business identity intertwined with associations of personality, quality, and desire.
Think of a brand as a structure that holds your customer’s goodwill and your reputation. It’s your company’s identity and for what you stand. A brand can change the positioning of your product or service from a commodity, to a premium product or service so instead of appealing to low-price shoppers you attract buyers willing to pay more for your goods than for those of competitors. Ask yourself this, why do people willingly pay $3.00 bottle for water when they can get it free from the tap? That’s what a brand can do for you.
People particularly like brands they know; they feel comfortable buying a brand named product. Cadillac and Mercedes Benz have been fighting for the number one spot in the luxury car market for years, and then along came Lexus a few years ago and it has slowly chiseled away at their market. A few years ago, you might not have considered buying a Lexus but now, it has become a recognized luxury brand.
Branding your business works. Visit a local supermarket and look at the generic labels. If you check the generic brand of canned corn, compared to Green Giant brand, you will see the black and white label priced much lower. If you look at the nutritional label, you will find out that there is no difference what so ever. However, the brand name sells equal to or better than the generic one because people will pay a premium price for a known brand because consumers perceive it as better.
It takes time, money, and effort to build a brand name from scratch. Franchising is big business; people will pay large fees to purchase brand named businesses. Think of McDonalds, 7-11 stores, True Value, Do-It-Best, HobbyTown USA, and many others, people buy into these franchises, because they are a known brand with a business plan that all but guarantees success.
Brand identity is the outward expression of a brand, including its name, trademark, communications, promotion, and visual appearance. Because you develop the brand identity, it will reflect how you want the consumer to perceive the brand, the company, and the product or service. Don’t confuse this with the very important brand image. The brand image is your customer's mental picture of your brand. If you have executed your strategic marketing plan properly, the customer will have a brand image similar to what you attempt to project.
However, sometimes regardless of what you do, your brand image can get a black eye. Just look at what happened to Toyota last year with the accelerator pedal problems the company had. With proper corrective measures, you can seek to bridge the gap between the brand image and the brand identity.
If you plan to start a new business, you’d do well to consider the value of brand names when you make your business plan. Understand that it takes time and money you to build a brand. Evidence shows that your efforts should produce big benefits if you stay focused on building your brand.
The real question is how you apply this to your company, regardless of whether it’s a forty-year-old second or third generation business or if it’s a brand new business. Ask yourself what you stand for. What’re your strengths? What do your customers know about you? What’s unique about your business?
Plan a strategy that will help you project your vision of your brand. It’s never too late to start building a brand around an existing company. Focus on the key benefits that you desire your customer to know about your company. Include those benefits in all of your advertising efforts, including your website, online ads, radio commercials, and newspaper ads, even down to the inserts you include with your invoices or receipts.
We have just touched on some of the highlights of creating a brand. If you have interest in developing a branding plan, but you don’t have the expertise to do it yourself, contact a marketing professional to assist you. I’m available to assist you in all of your marketing efforts. If you need a branding consultation or a complete strategic marketing plan, call or send an email to discuss your needs.
Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, PR, social media, and lead generation strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and startup companies find their voice in an ever increasingly crowded market by doing more with less($). Contact him at 260-338-4554, [email protected] or visit the website www.fracicaenterprises.com.