Branding is More than Marketing

Some Simple Suggestions to Improve Branding

The potential and strategies of branding are critical today, yet the practices and requirements are dramatically changing. In particular, branding is still dominated by marketing, differentiation, and promotion activities. Right now, technology, customer needs, and operations are becoming vital components of the branding process.

In particular, I argue that many branding experts focus too much effort on packaging, advertising, logos, and copy. At the same time, they often ignore issues like value, service, quality, culture, and our digital environment. If you don’t believe that, just compare the focus of many brands on department stores versus places like Amazon and Costco.

Here are some ways to improve branding:

1. Digital Branding

Brand management frequently does not pay enough attention to the digital world. Branding efforts need to be comprehensive, so it is good to support your efforts with a web site, social media, brochures, etc.

Automation, efficiency, and digital solutions have also allowed us your focus on solutions rather than just meeting customer’s needs. Market the real product your customer wants to buy. For example, the same customer may want the prestige of a designer purse name, and then buy generic labels at the grocery store to save money.

2. Operations

Service, image, and culture are frequently the biggest (and often least expensive) opportunities for small companies to develop a brand and differentiate themselves. Some suggestions:

  • Focus on your target market, segment, and your ideal customer.
  • Be polite, listen and then act based on what you have learned.
  • Become a trusted resource to your prospects by providing information that will help them make a good choice.
  • Build an email list and send informative mailings on a regular basis.
  • Keep in touch with potential customers and existing customers.

3. Quality

Quality needs to vary by customer and need. Let’s face it: IKEA makes great utilitarian, well-priced, and good-looking furniture for many young people. However, it really isn’t made to last a lifetime. Other products (like pizza) probably have more variance in the perceptions of the consumer than in the actual quality of the ingredients.

4. Convenience

In this day and age, if you’re not offering some sort of ease of use or accessibility, you’re dead in the water. So, try and angle your brand to offer some sort of convenience, such as easy payment, delivery, and contact (24 hour customer service). These are just some options for offering efficiency to your customer in some way.

5. Value

It’s one thing to nab the customer…. But to keep them coming back? That’s the golden ticket. Your product or service can’t be just a one-time thing. It has to be a many-time thing! It’s called customer retention – keep them coming back, and you’ve got guaranteed revenue.

Remember that value can vary, and it often depends on the situation and the perceptions. For example, Nieman Marcus, Costco, and Amazon all offer quite different products, but since they have quite effective value, many customers shop at all three retailers. As an aside, I love the free samples at Costco.

6. Company Culture

In researching this blog, I searched branding on Google. The articles barely mentioned culture (if at all), which I consider to be one of the most important components of branding. Creating and maintaining a positive company culture is a critical component in achieving excellence and establishing a great brand. A great strategy, without a supportive culture, will undoubtedly fail… I’ve seen it happen too many times.

Setting the right expectations, providing support, and accepting responsibility as a leader are all non-negotiable aspects of nurturing the culture in your company. In addition, you must never cease to measure what seems unquantifiable (in order to consider your attempts at creating a successful company culture).

There is no better example of this than the Golden State Warriors, who just won their third NBA title in four years. Much of the attention is given to their super stars, but if you look behind that, you see how the entire organization (including the training staff, coaching staff, medical staff) are all united to create excellence and a unified brand.

In summary, branding and differentiation are two of the key areas required to bring even the greatest new products and services to market. These two strategies are linked and are primarily a function of ensuring that your product or service meets the needs of your consumer.

As one expert said “We all know the adage…. features tell, benefits sell.” If this is true, why do so many entrepreneurs still speak in terms of the features of their product or service and not its benefits? Your prospective customers does not care what your product or service does… they only care about what it does for THEM!

Ready to achieve success by improving your company culture? Contact us today.

Dr. Bert Shlensky, president of Startup Connection (www.startupconection.net) has an MBA and PhD from the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T. He served as the President of WestPoint Pepperell’s apparel fabrics business and President and CEO of Sure Fit Products. Having provided counseling to over 2,000 clients, he now focuses on working with select startup and small businesses.

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Branding is More than Marketing
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Branding and differentiation are two of the key areas required to bring even the greatest new products and services to market. These two strategies are linked and are primarily a function of ensuring that your product or service meets the needs of your consumer.
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StartupConnection.net