How good branding can set you apart from your competitors
Do you want to stop competing in price? Specialise in a market and consistently communicate your needs? The brand represents both and is the tangible way to stand up and take a position of strength.
A brand allows a customer to expect the same quality standards and the same peace of mind that they have enjoyed in the past. That is why brands, to communicate to the consumer in a short way, offer a series of benefits that are automatically associated.
What does a brand represent?
For example, what does a brand like Starbucks mean? Just thinking about the brand evokes an experience, an aroma, a comfortable place to share with friends or make a business meeting, a lifestyle.
From the moment you see the logo on the uniform of the coffee maker or waiter, the experience goes far beyond the flavour of the coffee (or the quality of the hamburger if we speak of McDonald's). It creates an array of emotions and perceptions.
There are thousands of cafes, but Starbucks has such a powerful brand, that it represents a great differential.
The difficult thing is not to copy the quality or taste of coffee, so it is very difficult to replicate a system and experience associated with a brand that no one else can use.
If the experience disappears, the magic disappears.
The brand itself, the name of the product, the service or the company, is the way the market remembers and associates expectations of benefits. When these cease to exist, the brand ceases to be relevant.
If the company is not permanently nurturing its brand, delivering profits and doing a good job, the power of the brand simply vanishes. Independent to continuing to promote and promote, it is absolutely crucial to be consistent with its value offer.
If the market fails to perceive what makes it so popular, it will no longer be attractive. Brands are only an asset if they remain consistent with the experience they generate.
Great brands cease to be relevant because they remain living as merely a name, a successful past.
Companies are not a name, they are what that name represents. A brand is the continuity of the benefits that the customers receive. If there are no perceived benefits, there is no brand.
Characteristics of a good brand
A good brand must be distinctive and differentiable from the others. Having a name very similar to that of a competitor will only benefit those who you are trying to emulate.
A logo, such as on a uniform, must be enduring and consistent over time; they will be present for many years, which is why using only current trends can work today but will not last long.
A trademark must be descriptive, which allows you to understand what the product or service is about. It should be easily understandable, clear in what it says and what it represents.
A brand is much more than a name and a logo-symbol. It is the way the market associates the benefits it represents.
Failure to deliver the benefits is to stop building the brand.
Benefits of building a brand
Building a brand is not a luxury or a play thing of marketing people. It is not optional. It is a matter of survival. Why take the trouble to build a brand?
Differentiation – In an increasingly competitive market where the eyes of the consumer see that a company looks like another, the brand and what it represents will make the difference.
Leverage – A strong and well positioned brand allows the development of new products or services, sheltered under the same umbrella.
A good brand generates appreciation, closeness and identification. Being in many cases the first stimulus that a potential customer receives about the company, the design of the brand can make the difference between wanting to know more or to forget completely.
A brand is a great asset that carries a huge responsibility. Well developed and consistently communicated, it will make the difference between competitors and your company.
How to use the brand to differentiate yourself from the competition
In addition to the above recommendations:
- Invest in a good brand design (name and logo-symbol). Have it printed or embroidered on company products, especially things such as uniforms to increase brand presence.
- Communicate consistently in all your marketing pieces.
- Be obsessive and always provide the best possible standards of service and quality. Not most of the time or almost always, but always.
- Take care of the way you use it and be demanding in defining the other brands with which it is associated (promotions or joint activities).
- Make it evident and easy to understand for a potential customer the benefits of your brand. Show it is not just a name. Communicate, be explicit and specific in what your brand represents.
- Customers sometimes underestimate (usually for misinformation), all the effort behind giving a good product or good service. Educate them and let them know why your brand is different from the others.
Your brand is your business’ reputation, built during years of serious and responsible work. This makes the difference, but you have to communicate it consistently to succeed.