Do you know, and can you articulate, what business you are really in?
The American Marketing Association defines brand as a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” (Source: The MASB Common Language Project)
Brands are often made up of various elements:
- Tagline or catchphrase
- Graphics like the unique letter chosen to spell Apple
- Shapes like the shape of the package
- Colors like Owen Corning’s pink insulation
- Sounds (Intel’s chime),
- Scents like perfumes
- Tastes like Coke’s secret recipe
The logos on the right represent some popular brands. Each logo represents more than than a name. Each represents a set of experiences, values and traditions. The concept of branding your products and services is all about representing your company to your customers and prospects in terms that are most compelling to them.
How you position your products and services is a strategic decision. For example, should the local hardware store stand for its complete inventory of hardware items for its contractors? Or should it focus on how helpful its staff is for people who want to do things themselves? Both of these characteristics help both sets of customers. So which one comes first?
Perhaps you should develop new products or services to support your business objectives. These may supplement what you already have to give you better competitive advantage, or they may represent a new direction.
How you market it to individuals and businesses is the tactical way you tell your story. Whatever you decide, it will work best if you have a marketing plan to guide your efforts. This will ensure that your messages are consistent from one medium to another and that the timing of your work provides the most effective results.
Notice how each of these slogans positions the products to differentiate it from its competitors.
- “The ultimate driving machine.” (BMW)
- “Engineered like no other car in the world.” (Mercedes Benz)
- “Dodge. Grab Life by the Horns.” (Dodge brand)
- “A different kind of company. A different kind of car.” (Saturn)
- “Have it Your Way,” (Burger King)
- “Where’s the beef?” (Wendy’s)
- “Because I’m worth it.” (L’ Oréal)
- “Does she or doesn’t she?” (Clairol)
- “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.” (Maybelline)
- “The make-up of make-up artists.” (Max Factor)
Asking and answering strategic questions like these are the first steps in being able build the brand of your business correctly.
- What are the core capabilities on which your business is built?
- Who are your best customers? What do they want?
- What does your business offer your customers and clients better than the competition?
- Do you offer something for everyone, or are your offerings more targeted?
These may be simple questions for some, and the answers are critical to being able to sell your products and services effectively. It is also not a trivial exercise. Often it takes a professional to guide you through this analysis and evaluation. Sometimes the people in a business are too committed to the current way things are done to be objective. Periodically it takes an outsider to recommend and implement change. Whatever you do, take the branding exercise seriously, as it could influence your marketing communications focus for years to come.