Is Branding a Must? Setting out on a long and expensive journey to create your brand is not recommended when you’re an SME.
By all means once you become a Virgin, British Airways or Ford you’ve got a vested interest in your brand for a different reason.
If you’re that big you want to take what you now know customers recognise about your company and continually create Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) through advertising, PR and other marketing strategies. Just so that when customers think of a product or service you offer your TOMA strategy pays off and they immediately remember you.
Look at what Claude Hopkins, the author of “Scientific Advertising”, said about how people choose what they’re buying:
“An advertiser suffered much from substitution. He said, “Look out for substitutes,” “Be sure you get this brand,”
Telling the customer to get his better brand didn’t work. Hopkins notes that when the advertiser showed his product was superior by saying, “try our rivals too” in his advert headline buyers made sure to get his product. Because they knew that if he could invite comparisons he must have the best product.
The Root Cause Of Buying Behaviour
For more years than I care to remember we’ve heard the mantra that “… your company needs to build its brand to get more X.” Where ‘X’ is more sales, more exposure, more customers or more profits.
The bad news for all you companies investing megabucks in branding is that you’re looking at a symptom not the root cause as to why customers buy from you.
The symptom is the “look and feel”, also know as the brand, of the company. The root cause is the underlying real reason people continue to buy your products and services.
And guess what? It’s because they believe that at this moment you’re the best for what they want, according to their own highly specific reasons.
It may be any, or a combination, of these factors and more:
Lack of time to try a competing brand
And all the time your prospect or customer has their antennae tuned to what’s best for them. So if another company comes along and meets their wants in a way they think is better than yours they’re going to go with them. Branding can’t stop them doing that.
Look at that famous marketing case study: Fed-Ex.
When Fred Smith started Fed-Ex he almost single-handedly created the overnight delivery service. Yet the unique Fed-Ex brand didn’t prevent couriers like UPS taking some of Fed-Ex’s market share. So even a highly unique service and well known brand can’t prevent customer turnover.
Is Branding Force-Feeding Your Market?
American copywriter Bob Serling once said,
“Too many companies think because they have a product or service, they should dictate to the customer how it should be used or what goals it should satisfy or problems it should solve.”
Look at when you create a new brand or “reposition” an old one. You have a bunch of marketing people, some designers, maybe a branding consultant and perhaps a few members of the public through focus groups working up the brand.
Think about what you’ve just attempted to do there.
By creating this brand you’re force-feeding your customers and prospects with how you want them to perceive your product. And how you want them to recognise it and how you want them to ask for it.
Customers Always Vote With Their Wallets
Too many companies think because they have gone through and branded or re-branded their product or service that a customer obviously should use their product or service because of its strong/new brand identity.
Instead look at how your customers vote with their wallets everyday. Whether you get their sale or not depends on whether you match what they’re looking for.
Does Branding Get In The Way?
After looking at the 4th or 5th professional looking brochure or web site is your prospect interested in the look and feel of yours? The danger is that businesses think that marketing tactics like white papers, logos, brochures and web sites are simply “branding methods” when they should be part of an integrated marketing strategy.
Branding becomes a resource drain when considerable management focus and company money is put into branding or re-branding.
How often do we hear about a “tired brand” or a “weak brand” or “weak brand loyalty” explaining away poor sales or lack of sales.
Instead we should look at what our market is telling us about our product. It’s almost bound to be a common issue such as:
No one wants it – lack of research
No one believes it – lack of credibility
No one knows about it – lack of advertising and marketing
No one repurchases it – lack of quality in product or support
Address those issues first and your customers will eventually tell you exactly what your brand is by how they find you and purchase from you.
Jim Symcox is a business growth coach, copywriter, blogger and the author of “How to Leap Ahead Of Your Competitors”. He’s worked with Tony Robbins clients around the world and Growth Accelerator clients across the UK.
Click to see Jim’s blog on Business Growth and Marketing on Integrated Marketing it has over 700 posts on a variety of mainly business boosting topics.