The concept of branding brings about different ideas to different people. A brand, for a company or product, is comprised of tangible and intangible elements. The intangibles are things you can’t see, such as interactions with representatives, how customers feel about your products, or how they feel when thinking of your company. How a customer feels about your brand is a combination of a number of these tangible and intangible brand elements. In short, your brand is a promise to your customer and how they feel about you.
You won’t be able to put your brand equity in a bank, store it in a warehouse, divide it, or sell it in part. It may, however, be the most valuable thing you own and the only place you can keep it is in the minds of your prospects, customers, and staff.
i.e. Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it’s not just the shoe’s features that sell the shoe.
Brand equity consists of:
- Customer perception
- Negative or Positive effects
- Resulting value
Perception is a psychological variable involved in the purchase decision process that is known to influence consumer behaviour. Elective perception is the process by which individuals perceive what they want to in media messages and disregard the rest.
When something belongs you don’t question its presence, but you’ll notice it’s absence. The same goes for brands that find their spot in the marketplace. This is when the power of a brand connects to a customer so that their product is no longer a commodity, but an attachment. One of the reasons a company such as Nike will spend millions to associate its products with star athletes so that their customers will transfer an emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. At the point of saturation in any market, and when all things are equal between competitors, product features stop selling products and branding starts.
When does branding work?
Better brands will have a clear understanding of their target market, what their interests and needs are, and how they communicate. A thorough understanding the customer is the core of branding as it directs the content and context of any customer communication or interaction. The information to know how to communicate with an audience, and on what terms will determine the success factor of connecting to your market.
Uniqueness within a niche market doesn’t require a revolution. Simply having one special thing that separates Firmex from the competition. After discovering a differentiator we will have to hype it up every way possible. Customers, given two identical choices, will simply go with the easiest at that time, no brand loyalty. By differentiating we encourage customers to seek us out instead of the competition.
i.e. TOMS shoes will donate a free pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes that are bought, Domino’s Pizza used to guarantee that their pizza would arrive in 30 minutes or it’d be free.
A connection is created when customers relate your brand to a positive event in their lives, it doesn’t even have to be a direct connection. By getting away from rational appeals and using emotional appeals our brand will inherit greater intrinsic value.
The need for consistency extends to tangible and intangible aspects of the brand; returning customers expect the same level of service as their first visit. They also expect the visual presentation of all brand elements to be consistent across all touch points.
An inconsistency in presentation or service is perceived as unprofessional or unreliable. Inconsistency is often enough of a reason for consumers to take their business elsewhere. Consistency is crucial to the success of our brand.
i.e. McDonald’s. You can go to Bangkok and pick out a McDonald’s just by looking for the golden arches. After you go inside, you will be able to order a burger and fries without speaking a word of Thai. People don’t eat McDonald’s because it’s good or healthy, they go there because it’s consistent.
Successful brands have the ability to reach consumers through multiple channels. Those which maintain a high level of brand awareness compared to competitors are likely to generate more sales.
Brand awareness can be generated through:
The value of a brand.
Your sales team will love branding because it translates to revenue as prospective customers will more readily adopt product offers as your reputation has preceded you. The account team will love branding as well as they are more likely to offer value-add solutions for existing customers in up-sell opportunities. And most importantly, your customers will love your branding because it lets them know they made the right choice and will be more likely to retain your services.
The greater the number of positive impressions on a market a brand can create, the more the organization will benefit. The earlier you put in the legwork required to develop and maintain positive brand impressions the better off your company or product will be.
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