Market Branding

What is a brand? A brand is the difference between a pair of running shoes and a pair of Nikes. A brand is what people feel about you, your product, the service you provide, or your organization. It is part rational but mostly emotional. People will forgive a strong brand if it makes a mistake. Remember New Coke?  Likewise, people won’t forgive a weak brand if it makes a mistake. Remember Gateway Computers?  We thought so.

Secret Of Branding

So what is the secret of a strong brand? The answer is surprisingly simple! It’s FOCUS.  What is your business’ focus?  Great brands stand for something, not a lot of things. They stand for one thing. For decades Swedish car maker Volvo defined their brand with a single word:  safety.  Well, that particular branding seemed to work for them. Sometimes you have to think beyond the category to know what you stand for.

What is a Brand Meaning

Harley Davidson makes motorcycles. Guess what they stand for? They stand for freedom. Not a more powerful engine, not a more reliable bike, or a smoother ride. Just freedom. Brands are experiences and feelings.  Take Starbucks, for example,  they differentiate themselves in many ways and offer a consistent brand experience in every Starbucks you visit. They even have their own language! Starbucks has created a unique community of coffee lovers that speak Starbucks and are true brand ambassadors. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Can You Put A Monetary Value On A Brand?

Starbucks had realized they weren’t in the business of serving coffee, they were in the business of serving people. So can you put a monetary value on a brand? The people at Interbrand Research can remember the fine folks at Coca-Cola we mentioned earlier. Care to guess what their brand is worth? According to Interbrand, about 61% of the value of the Coca-Cola Corporation is brand press.  That’s a lot of cash!

A brand is worth protecting and nurturing, but how? Here are a few key points to help maintain or even grow your brand:

  • Be different– The world is filled with parity products and services. Make yours stand out.
  • Be vigilant -Don’t allow your brand to do things that it shouldn’t. Don’t be the Gateway computers of your category.
  • Be relevant -The marketplace changes constantly make sure your brand keeps up.

Who Owns The Brand

So who really owns a brand? The brand manager? The VP?  Marketing brands are owned by the people. In the past, a company would tell people about their brand. It was pretty much a one-way thing. Now it is much more of a conversation, but don’t worry, this instant feedback can be very useful. It gives you a glimpse into what’s in the hearts and minds of your customers and allows you to take action when you need to.  It can also help you stay focused and that’s a good thing!

So let’s recap. A brand is much more than your logo, or the color of your truck fleet. It’s something intangible. It’s what people think of you, but mostly on an emotional level. Great brands are focused and they stand for something. Great brands are not just seen and heard, they’re experienced in a way that is uniquely theirs. A brand can have tremendous value and should be treated that way. Keep your brand healthy by being different, vigilant, and relevant. Finally, never forget that people, your customers, own your brand. Listen to them, respect them, and most of all, earn their trust!