When speaking to many marketing people on the subject of branding, I often hear an exasperated response along the lines of, “We don’t do any branding, and as a matter of fact we don’t even have a brand!”
I try to remind them that, of course they have a brand, because a brand is, by definition, a mark of distinction that is representative of how your product is perceived by its intended target audience. Like it or not, every organization and every product out there has a fundamental “brand” in the eyes of its consumers.
Sadly, it may not be the brand they want!
It is important to realize that the branding of your organization is happening, with or without your participation. Perceptions of your brand are being shaped through experience, word of mouth, and every public act undertaken by the organization and its people. Even though you may not be actively shaping the perceptions of your brand in the marketplace, strong (and lasting) perceptions are still being formed.
This begs the question, if you are not actively managing your brand, then who or what is?
If you are not actively shaping your intended brand message in the marketplace, then you can be sure it’s being shaped either by consumer scuttlebutt, or worse, by your competition. Either way, are you content to let someone or something other than you determine what the marketplace perceives about your organization?
An appropriate analogy might be a car hurtling down the highway. The driver has chosen not to drive (he may be napping or is busy doing something “more important”) but that does not mean the car will not arrive somewhere – it will – we just don’t know where it will arrive, how suddenly it will get there, or whether we will need a tow truck, an ambulance or a hearse to clean up the mess.
The bottom line is you DO have a brand, and it is essential that you know exactly what your consumers’ perceptions of that brand are. If you are happy with those perceptions, then your next step is to develop a strategy to defend and enhance it. If, however, you need to change your brand perception, a strategic and comprehensive program to move public perception in your favor is in order.
Consider this: Strong brands are sought out by consumers, who are willing to pay a premium for those brands (studies show that strong brands command price premiums of, on average, 7% over lesser brands).
Let me know what you think. Respond or email me at Jlonsdorf@RandJpr.com.
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