Branding Challenges and Opportunities
Be it the savviest tech product or the candy you get in your neighbourhood shop or even you, yourself – everything is a brand.
Branding includes everything that is associated with the brand- name, website, URL, logo, colours, symbols, spokespersons, slogans, jingles, packaging, signage, etc.
Branding helps associate all these elements with your brand name so that the brand becomes an appealing and memorable entity.
Needless to say, all this create several branding challenges and opportunities that you must consider if you want to grow your business.
Evolution of Brands:
In the field of marketing, brands first originated in the nineteenth century with the advent of packaged goods. The first registered brand was the red triangle registered by Bass beer, as the British were the first to introduce a law for trade mark registration.
Industrialization moved the production of household items, such as soap, from local communities to centralized factories.
Around 1900, James Walter Thompson published a house advert explaining trademark advertising, in an early commercial description of what now is known as ‘branding’. Soon, companies adopted slogans, mascots, and jingles that were heard on radio and seen in early television.
By the 1940s, Mildred Pierce manufacturers recognized how customers were developing relationships with their brands in the social, psychological, and anthropological senses.
From that, manufacturers quickly learned to associate other kinds of brand values, such as
- fun, and
- luxury, with their products.
Thus began the practice of ‘branding’, wherein the customer buys the brand rather than the product.
What is a Brand value proposition
Seth Godin gave an awesome definition when he wrote:
“A brand’s value is merely the sum total of how much extra people will pay, or how often they choose the expectations, memories, stories and relationships of one brand over the alternatives.” (1)
Simply put a brand’s value is not simply how much extra people will pay ($500 or more for a mac compared to any other personal computer ), but the brands value is also dependent on how often the customers choose that brand and for what reasons.
Example: An unbranded phone from a new company, may come in as little as 50$. But if people choose them only once, but do not find a reason to buy it again, then this company doesn’t have much value.
After all, no company has survived on one-time customers. Repeat customers are the lifeline of every business. And repeat business is tightly tied to values.
The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, nicely summarized the connection when he said:
“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”
The bottom line is that Brands provide important benefits to both consumers and firms. Firms provide the impetus for brand creation through their offering, marketing programs and other activities. A brand is a perceptual entity that is rooted in reality, but it is also more than that, reflecting the perceptions and idiosyncrasies of consumers. Needless to say “a brand resides in the minds of consumers”.
Over the years Brands have been instrumental in shaping the future of Businesses. Companies have taken several strategic marketing steps to brand their products to ensure future profitability and sustenance of business.
To brand a product companies taught each consumers “who” the brands is by giving it a name and other identification elements, “what” the brand does and “why” consumers should care. Brand differences were often related to attributes or benefits of the product itself or in many successful cases they were related to more intangibles image considerations.
What is Branding?
Branding process means sending a message to the world about who you are and what you stand for. The idea behind this is to make people understand what your name, product or service is, and to present it in such a way so that they want it or aspire for it.
In other words, branding is an exercise that creates a lasting impression on the market. It helps customers organize their knowledge and feelings about your brand in such a way so that they recall your brand in a positive way.
In simple terms Branding is all about adding Value to Your Product without Changing It.
Branding is all about helping people to know, understand and want your offering (product, service, idea).
Branding is the process of making your products, services and your company (startup) known, preferred and wanted for decided features in your decided target audiences.
Every company (established or a startup) must consider four target audiences:
- Internal (staff and close collaboration partners)
- Market (buyers, prospects and providers)
- Owner groups (shareholders, including analysts, financial and stock markets)
- Society at large (including authorities, media, and potential employees)
What is Brand Management
Marketers engaged in branding seek to develop or align the expectations behind the brand experience, creating the impression that a brand associated with a product or service has certain qualities or characteristics that make it special or unique.
A brand image may be developed by attributing a “personality” to or associating an “image” with a product or service, whereby the personality or image is “branded” into the consciousness of consumers.
A brand is, therefore, one of the most valuable elements in an advertising theme. The art of creating and maintaining a brand is called brand management.
A brand which is widely known in the marketplace acquires brand recognition. When brand recognition builds up to a point where a brand enjoys a critical mass of positive sentiment in the marketplace, it is said to have achieved brand franchise.
One goal in brand recognition is the identification of a brand without the name of the company present.
For example, Disney has been successful at branding with their particular script font (created for Walt Disney’s “signature” logo), which it used in the logo for go.com.
Why Brand Management is Important
The power of creative Branding is visible to all. We are drawn to Starbucks, Harley-Devidson, Coca-Cola, Apple, Singapore Airlines, Heinz, and Gillette. These companies have learned how to make their brands live in customers’ minds and hearts.
Philips Kotler in Kellogs on Branding
What are Brand Elements
Branding is to be able to choose a name, logo, symbol, package design, or other attributes that identify a product and distinguishes it from others.
These different components of a brand, which are trademark-able, identifiable and differentiate-able, can be called “Brand Identity Elements or Brand elements”. The main brand elements are:
- Brand Name
Branding involves creating mental structures and helping consumers organize their knowledge about products and services with these visual branding elements. Branding elements list helps us clarify a brand in consumers mind & helps their decision making and in the process provides value to a firm.
The key to branding is that consumers perceive differences among brands in a product category and marketers can benefit from the increased appeal in a choice situation.
Branding Goals for Startups & Small Businesses
Branding is a must for any brand (or person) that has products and services to offer. It is especially crucial for small businesses, start-ups and niche products. Older, established corporate brands already have a strong market presence. In the volatile and competitive marketplace, it is a must that small businesses and newcomers distinguish themselves from their competitors if they want to stay alive.
Proper brand management must deliver short term financial goals as well as long term brand equity goals. In other words, brands must meet their short term revenue goals to stay afloat, and at the same time, build upon their brand image in such a way so that it establishes the brand’s viability in the long term.
A good brand marketer, therefore, must provide with a strategic plan that takes a holistic approach towards building your brand. However, there are many challenges to overcome while building your brand.
Branding Challenges: The Challenges faced by Brand Managers
Branding is not easy. It is not just about giving a name or an attractive logo or slogan. It is one of the most challenging tasks a manager’s faces.
These challenges are also known as “three C’s of Branding”.
Every organisation or managers face these challenges:
Branding Challenge 1: Cash
The challenge of cash, or dealing with short term financial concern, is the biggest single challenge faced by brand managers.
It is driven by a very simple conundrum: Executives needs to deliver short term financial results, but brands are long term assets.
Executives who deliver quarterly profits are rewarded. However, all of a brand’s value resides in future, and current financial returns are a very small part of the total.
However if a manager is forced to choose between investing in a brand and missing short term financial targets, most managers choose to hit the short term numbers.
Branding Doom Loop
This is usually a career optimizing decision. This ultimately leads to a “branding doom loop”.
The doom loop begins with a manager struggling to deliver a short term profit target. To boost sales and profit, the manager deploys a program that has a significant short-term impact, such as price promotion. To fund price promotion manager reduces investment in brand building programs.
However, as the short term financial results improve, competition responds to nullify the impact of the price promotion, leading to less than desirable results on the medium term. Moreover, consumers also start expecting promotion and delay their purchases and wait for the next price promotion. Thus the long terms brands prospects decline as:
- Overall Brand strength decline due to lack of brand building programs
- Price and margins come under pressure due to competitive response
- Consumers start expecting price promotions and delay their purchases
- The perceived price-value equations shifts downwards
- Brands get into a dangerous downward spiral
Brand Management Challenges faced by Brand Managers
This is especially common in intensely competitive sectors like food and beverage, apparels and lifestyle. The problem has only compounded in the age of online shopping, as more brick and mortar stores face intense pressure to offer prices that match those that are provided by online retailers. It takes a creative and determined approach to escape the situation and convince the customers to stay loyal.
Branding Challenge 2: Consistency
Brands are created through a wide range of touch points; every time a customer interacts with a brand they form associations. This means that everyone in a company has an impact on the brand.
Therefore the central objective of brand building is to keep the message consistent across all platforms, media and time. This requires keeping the brand relevant by finding new ways to articulate its message so that it stays consistent. This means making appropriate changes across the board consistently and adapting to stay on top of trends.
However, many brands are unable to present a unified message across all platforms. For example, a brand may otherwise have a good online store, but its social media profiles may not be up to the mark. Other brands follow another destructive path- which is separating their online and offline offerings.
Therefore the second biggest challenge of branding is consistency, or getting an entire organization to embrace the brand live up to the promise over time. However, if an organization does not understand, believe in, and own the brand – if the message, the brand, and the product are not consistent- the vision remains unfulfilled.
What they don’t understand is that the customers want to have a seamless brand experience. Be it in a physical store, or the online store or on the app or some other affiliate platform; a brand must appear as a cohesive, complete entity that offers customers the same positive experience across multiple devices, platforms and versions.
How to Manage your Brand
Make sure that your brand remains fresh and relevant, and the message should be innovated continuously to keep up with changing customers. Any drastic breaks will result in losing brand value and customer engagement. If your brand is not consistently freshened, you will become stale and be eventually shunned by the target audience.
Take the example of Lux soap, which has been around for ages, but does not “feel” old. Its image is constantly updated, and while the central message remains the same, it is articulated in new, fresh ways constantly which prevents it from looking jaded.
Branding Challenge 3: Clutter
The market is intensely competitive and increasingly populated. Consumers are bombarded every day by hundreds and sometimes thousands of advertisements and promotions. Breaking through this cluttered environment is exceptionally difficult.
The challenge is to be unique and stand out among the crowd. This means using innovative marketing and advertising to carve out your niche.
It is had to get anyone to pay attention to your brand, and harder still to form meaningful associations. To stand out brand need to be focused and unique; great brand means something unique in a consumers mind. Having a clear positioning is a great beginning, but not sufficient. Brands need to create attention through creative advertising and innovative use of media.
The important job is to position your brand uniquely so that it fulfills a supply requirement. Otherwise, you will get swamped by competition. The idea here is not just to be good, but also be memorable. And that requires a holistic approach towards brand positioning. For example, Nike remains such a favourite brand because its logo and tagline are instantly memorable.
Branding Challenge 4: Connectivity
Brands are created through a wide range of touch points; every time a customer interacts with a brand they form associations. This means that everyone in a company has an impact on the brand. Therefore the biggest challenge of branding is consistency, or getting an entire organization to embrace the brand and live up to its promise over time. However if an organization does not understand, believe in & own the brand or if its message, the brand, and the product are not consistent- the vision remains unfulfilled.
In our ever connected world, it is truer than ever. Consumers consider brands that are relevant to them and fulfill their desire to express themselves. However, due to the clutter in the market and rising expenses to build brands in the marketplace, it is becoming much more important to ensure clear and consistent communication of Brand Identity and Positioning in the form of consumer-centric, relevant and contextual stories.
Branding Challenge 5: Communication
The brand of a company is created by the company and its customers together. The strongest brands will be the ones to which consumers become so attached that they, in effect, become evangelists and actively seek means to interact with the brand and share their experiences with others.
Firms that are able to achieve resonance and affinity with their customers would be able to reap a host of valuable benefits, such as greater price premiums and more efficient and effective marketing programs. Digital media dictates marketers to relinquish control of the story as customers want to interact with stories and modify them on social media.
In our heavily cluttered marketplace importance of a storytelling has increased much more. With the evolution of technology ways to tell your story are morphing continually as the stuff of storytelling encompasses richer digital interactions enabled by we and mobile devices.
Application of Branding
“Branding is much more than attaching a name to an offering. Branding is about making a certain promise to customers about delivering a fulfilling experience and a level of performance. Therefore, branding requires that everyone in the supply chain – from product development to manufacturing to marketing to sales to distribution – works to carry out the promise. This is what is meant by “living the brand”. The brand becomes the whole platform for planning, designing and delivering superior value to the company’s target customers.”
Philips Kotler in Kellogg on Branding
The brand is what’s given by a company to its merchandise so the manufacturer can be identified by consumers. After an increasing evolution on the production systems that allows almost any manufacturer to make high quality and satisfactory products, brands became a way of distinguishing simple commodities and their manufacturers by status, emotional characteristics and subjective qualities. A well-built brand gives the company or product personality and evokes emotional and subliminal characteristics that are not necessarily found in the company or product themselves.
For Example, imagine if you are given two translucent envelopes both carrying soap. What value you associate with them when you open them:
Envelope 1: A bar of white colour soap.
Envelope 2: A packaged bar of soap with the following description written on it “Lux Beauty Soap.”
Dealing with Challenges in Branding
The ultimate accolade for a brand is to be at the top of its category. Once this has happened, however, it risks becoming generic and being unable to act as a brand – the ability to distinguish goods from different producers.
There are strong brands in every line of business – consumer goods (Beverages like Coca Cola, Pepsi), Consumer durables (LG, Samsung, Sony), Software (Microsoft, Google), Insurance (Prudential, AIG, MetLife), Automobiles (Ford, Toyota, Saturn), and even secret services (FBI).
To monetize or profit from a brand, you have to build it and keep innovating it constantly. If you want to survive, you must keep your brand fresh, relevant, accessible and customer-oriented. Brand building is like establishing your reputation in the market. It is a difficult process, but if you can build a strong brand, you will be reaping profits for a long time.
The ultimate test for any brand is to be at the top of its field. To do that, you need the help of a good branding strategy, which will convey your brand’s values, appeal to your intended audience and beat out the competition. The key aspect is to find your USP and then build your brand around it.
Always remember that not everyone will find your brand appealing. A person who buys a Mercedes is unlikely to look at a Nano. But you need to decide who you are marketing to, and then stick to that. This will help you find your voice and create your niche in the market.
How BrandLoom can Assist you
Take advantage of our Strategic Branding resources and build your brand equity in this digitally connected world. BrandLoom Consulting will enable you to build, weave and tell your brand story, which you can leverage at multiple touch-points.
At BrandLoom Consulting, we will work with you to develop your “Brand Story” and help you communicate it in an strategic manner. Our Brand Strategy Consultant will work with you actively to:
- Define your Corporate Identity, Purpose, Vision and Mission
- Define the strategic Brand roles of your Brand Portfoilo
- Define the Brand Identity of the selected Brand
- Clarify and elaborate the Brand Identity to make it colourful and usable
- Define the Brand Positioning
- Work with your Creative Agency to develop Creative rendering of your Brand Positioning
- Build web presence through impressive web and social media presence.
Why Become an AnyWhere Brand
At BrandLoom Consulting we believe in the power of Agile & connected Brands – AnyWhere Brands. AnyWhere Brands connect with stakeholders (consumers, channel partners, society, shareholders and Government) when they want and where they want. We call such evolved brands AnyWhere Brand. We define AnyWhere Brands as those which ensure consistent, high quality and unique customer experience regardless of how and where a customer chooses to interact with the brand or organization, and no matter the purpose. Such brands consider consumer interaction to be continuous.
For us at BrandLoom Consulting the traditional definition of brand (A Brand is a set of associations linked to a name, term, design, symbol associated with a product or service) is outdated and needs evolution in the ever-connected world.
Evolution of AnyWhere Commerce
With the evolution of Internet, consumer has experienced the never before power of knowledge and they are still graduating to the transparent & better known world. Today they are not shy of googling to find what are the nuances of certain ingredient in their soap or which is the best doctor for certain ailment they are having.
At the same time with evolution of Omni-Channel retail consumer is interacting with brands at several places and in multiple ways carrying away several perceptions. Omni comes from the word Omnis which mean all or universal and channel denotes means to sell products to consumers. Omni-Channel is the evolution of multi-channel retailing and concentrates on seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available retailing channels, i.e. Brand outlets, mom & pop stores, internet, mobile devices, television, radio, direct mail, catalog etc. Needless to say that the lines between online and offline are blurring.
In MIT’s recent report “Beyond the Checkout Cart” it is mentioned that the Omni-Channel consumer is the central force shaping the future of eCommerce and brick-and-mortar stores alike. These consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, channel agnostics and expert of transacting with a Startup / Brand anywhere i.e. of AnyWhere Commerce.
AnyWhere Commerce is the process where a brand ensure consistent, high quality and unique customer buying experience regardless of how and where a customer chooses to buy/avail the a product/service. The overall buying cycle may not follow the usually documented process (AIDA) but a much shorter one enabled by consistent information by a Brand. Marketers who would like to indulge their consumers in AnyWhere Commerce needs to develop agile management skills and consistency of communication across the organization.
Implications to Brands: Why Become an AnyWhere Brand
Yesteryear brands with their huge residual equity have been staying afloat in this ever-connected world, however more and more of them are facing the consumer or channel backlash. Their problem is being aggravated by emerging startups from nowhere with disruptive business models.
This situation is forcing Startups and Brands to become agile and ensure customer experience is flawless and delightful. Therefore it has become imperative for brands and retailers to better align their business operating models with consumer expectations and become adapt at managing consumer interaction when they want, where they want.
At BrandLoom Consulting we believe in the power of Agile & connected Brands, who connect with stakeholders (consumers, channel partners, society, shareholders and Government) when they want and where they want. We call such evolved brands, AnyWhere Brand.
Such Brands focuses on unique Brand Experience while interacting with their consumers for anything & everything, everywhere and smart marketers are building brand franchise rather then worrying about the past. Such Startups & Brands look at messages and touch points irrespective of the channels and are approaching the consumer brand experience holistically. Below is the definition of AnyWhere Brand:
AnyWhere Brand ensure consistent, high quality and unique customer experience regardless of how and where a customer chooses to interact with the brand or organization, and no matter the purpose. Such brands consider consumer interaction to be continuous. AnyWhere Brand does the following things flawlessly and this is what differentiate them with their consumer:
- Delivers a truly positive and consistent customer experience
- Provide JIT Information to your Consumer and Retailer
- Enable retailers to provide a complete package of pricing and product information in real-time basis
- Launch New Products the moment it is ready and increase your “Speed to Market”
- Create Excitement among Channel Partners and be seen as a Brand for Tomorrow
Brand Credibility Footprint
Every Startup or a Brand is unique due to their business model, their people, their background. Therefore, their challenges are also unique and hence there can never be one kind of strategic branding approach. BrandLoom Consulting believes in delivering results and that is why when we start the first analysis we do on every brand is Brand Credibility Footprint.
By using Brand Credibility Footprint our team will help you to do one or two of the following:
- Identify Market Opportunity most suitable as per your Organizational competence and Brand relevance
- Build competence to maximize market opportunity and Brand strength
- Develop Brand story to maximize market opportunity and organization competence
BrandLoom Consulting supports its customers to become an AnyWhere Brand with Credibility FootPrint in the marketplace.
Delightful Customer Experience
Our services will enable you to provide Delightful Customer Experience by creating synergy across multiple channels or touch-points. Even as online and mobile engagement grows, consumers who have the opportunity to interact over multiple channels during the research, evaluation and purchase cycle, tend to allocate a greater share of their wallet to such experiences.
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