In a tough, “all-hands-on-deck” economy, belt-tightening takes on a whole new meaning. So when some marketing person tells you branding is more important than ever, you’d be right to question their sanity. Or would you? When the economy falters, and companies go under, you’ve got a choice to make. Do you:
- Let your goods or services become commoditized and fight it out in the arena of lowest price wins.
- Shore up your marketing efforts and give consumers a reason to pay more for what you’re selling.
If you chose “A,” good luck to you and the roughly 1 billion Chinese who are fighting it out for the same table scraps. If you chose “B,” then you need to be focusing on your brand. But what does that even mean?
A lot has been published about brand building, brand equity, brand standards and even creating a brand for multiple brands. But the core premise is simple in concept, if perhaps a bit trickier in execution. Following are a few of the basics.
What a brand is:
- An attribute or attributes that make your product, service or company unique.
- A set a beliefs or practices by which your company lives.
- An understanding of who you are.
- A promise to your customers.
What a brand is not:
- A new logo, jingle, phrase or list of design requirements.
- A customer service practice.
- A price.
A brand, therefore, is that unique set of attributes that makes you different from your competition. It’s a set of promises about your company, product or service that ultimately allows you greater control over market price and market share. A brand is, essentially, a promise to your customers that is derived from your overarching mission. This promise should be used to guide strategies that can then be turned into specific tactics.
What does this mean for a business trying to do more than simply stay afloat in a market filled with too many products and too few buyers? It means you’ve got to live up to your brand promise, and that brand promise had better meet or exceed what a potential buyer expects. If it doesn’t, you can bet the business next door will be trying their darndest to eat your lunch. After all, they don’t want table scraps either.