There's much unnecessary confusion about this term (and plenty of unnecessary jargon), but the basic concept is quite simple: A brand is not your company's logotype, color scheme, or corporate identity, or even your company's product or service. A brand is simply the public's perception (or "gut feeling") about your product/service/organization.

When your brand is compelling or successful it evokes a perception in the minds of clients that there is no other product or service on the market quite like yours, along with a belief that your product or service offers them some tangible benefit. (Novelty alone doesn't guarantee a sale.)

A brand, then, is really nothing more than a name; or more precisely, the consumer's perception of that name and what it represents. It is also a tremendously effective means of selling things. A compelling brand is sometimes said to "own" a particular word in the minds of consumers: For example, in the automotive industry, Volvo owns "safety" while BMW owns "driving" and Mercedes owns "prestige." So long as Volvo remains true to its brand, it's assured a significant share of the automotive market.

The Difference Between Branding Selling

Nevertheless, branding is not selling in the traditional sense. Nor is it based primarily on advertising. Branding is accomplished, instead, through publicity and word of mouth.

Advertising is no longer such a powerful force in the contemporary marketplace. Consumers are more skeptical than ever of advertisers' self-serving messages, and the sheer volume of advertising messages has resulted in a drastic decline in advertising's effectiveness. We spend more and more on advertising, but get less and less return on that investment.

What is the alternative to advertising (and the basis of branding)? Publicity or PR. With publicity, you Best Rolex Replica Watches tell your story through third-party outlets, primarily the media. Rightly or wrongly, people believe what they read in newspapers and magazines, as well as what they hear on the radio, on TV, or from their neighbors. So PR is inherently more credible and persuasive than advertising. It's also a whole lot cheaper!

The best way to launch a brand is to generate publicity for your new product or service. (Advertising is more effective as a means of defending an established brand's market share by reminding consumers that it's the leading brand.)

How do you generate that sort of publicity? By inventing a new product category, so that you can become the instant market leader. The news media want to talk about what's new, not necessarily what's better. So it won't matter if you've developed the best tasting, healthiest spaghetti sauce on the market. Consumers will never be motivated to switch from a current market leader, no matter how much you spend on advertising, unless they sense that the product truly offers them something new.

It is naive to think that superior quality and lower price always prevail in the marketplace. Most people determine what is "best" by finding out what other people think is best; namely, by choosing a market leader. You can seldom hope to go head to head with a market leader, but by inventing a new product category that will be newsworthy, you can generate publicity that no amount of advertising dollars can buy.

The Body Shop brand (all-natural cosmetics), Segway brand (human transporter), and Red Bull brand (energy drink) were all launched with PR campaigns rather than advertising dollars. There are some situations in which no amount of advertising could do what a little media coverage can do: Every book featured on Oprah Winfrey's book club has made it onto the New York Times Bestseller List. No recent ad campaign has attracted more attention or won more industry awards than the "Got Milk?" series run by the National Fluid Milk Processor Board. But per capita milk consumption has actually declined throughout the campaign, reaching its lowest level ever. Ads need to be more than clever or memorable; they need to motivate the public to buy the brand. Otherwise, you're fishing without a hook!

When you think about truly successful brands, such as Jell-O (the first gelatin dessert), Kleenex (the first facial tissue), Band-Aid (the first adhesive bandage), or Xerox (the first plain-paper copier), you realize that simply by virtue of being first, they've remained the undisputed market leader in their product category, even if other companies can manufacture a product just as good or better. "Kleenex" has become our generic term for facial tissue. Are Kroger tissues inferior in quality? Probably not, but they'll never have the market share that Kleenex does.

Perception of quality, rather than quality per se, is what really matters when it comes to consumer behavior. So sometimes setting an arbitrarily high price can actually enhance that perception of quality and ensure the brand's success! Rolex watches are a good example of this phenomenon. Customers who purchase a Rolex watch don't do so to be more punctual.
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11/18/2013 12:07:38 pm

Wow! I am really impressed by the way you detailed out everything in your blog 'A Beginner's Guide to Business Branding'. It is really going to help me a lot. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so clearly......

5/22/2017 03:28:51 am

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