What does your brand stand for? More importantly, how would your customers answer that question since brands don’t create wealth customers do.
Brand positioning starts with a frame of reference, which signals to consumers the goal they can expect to achieve. Customers have expectations that they attach to brands. Over time those expectations change and it’s up to the brand to change accordingly. The brand and the category it competes in are not static things. Consumer’s change and so must brands; brands must be in lockstep with consumers.
Brands are just one instrument among many with which to build customer equity; brands serve as a magnet to attract new customers as well as an anchor to hold existing customers. The name of the game is symbolism: the strategic focus should be on what your brand stands for as well as how your brand delivers and executes in the eyes of the consumer.
Who’s managing your brand? Do you have a brand manager? I think we’d all agree that brand management is critical for profitable growth. But having said that, it’s surprising how many companies have numerous product category managers yet no brand managers. Here are three areas of your business to closely examine when it comes to brand management.
Regardless of what business you’re in, it all starts with your product. No matter how great your service might be, if your product is unreliable and inferior, you’re not going to be around very long. Just look around; how many businesses have disappeared from the American landscape due to poor product quality or the inability to adapt and change their product offering as consumers tastes have evolved and changed.
Having a quality product no longer gives you a competitive advantage; it is instead the price of admission - the ante just to get into the game. In-store product offerings need to be closely monitored to adapt to today’s ever-changing consumer. Understanding who your customers are and effectively managing your customer segments is critical to your long-term success.
A winning brand formula is taking your product or service that consistently delivers your customers expectations and wrap it with great people. People who are not only knowledgeable about your brand, but consistently deliver it in a fast, friendly, and helpful manner.
When consumers see products and services as being equal, then it is your people that help you create brand separation. In a commodity perceived industry, you simply cannot invest enough in the people (*) who are the face and personality of your brand in the eyes of your customers.
Community involvement is the one dimension of brand management that is often overlooked. It’s understandable the amount of time devoted to product and people development. However, truly great brands understand that product and people alone will not engender brand endearment in the minds and hearts of today’s consumers. Consumers want and expect more.
Great brands weave themselves into the very fabrics of the communities they serve. From fundraisers, to charitable contributions, participating at soup kitchens for the poor and homeless, to blood, clothing and book drives, and lets not forget sponsorship for various community organizations. Community involvement is just that: involvement.
Money is one thing, but some of the great brands volunteer a tremendous amount of their time to pitch in where needed. Not only will community involvement enhance your brand image among consumers, it will also do wonders for employee morale, as well as your recruiting and retention efforts.