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Brand Aid: Time for a Refresh

Posted Sep 14 2008 2:57pm

Brand Aid: Time for a Refresh

Balancing product advances, marketplace differentiation and customer acquisition in today’s competitive landscape is tough. Sustained growth…and ultimately, market dominance, relies on flawless execution – strategic, operational and tactical. Before this can happen, a solid brand framework needs to be in place and functioning.

This means a brand position and architecture constructed of a well-defined value proposition, brand awareness strategy with powerful messaging and creative execution.

A strong brand increases market share. Constant new product and service launches ( and relaunches ), rapidly changing technology, and new consumer attitudes make a challenging environment even more complex. Business acquisition and customer loyalty is built on brands delivered with distinctive articulation and unique personality.

Brand Position

A solid brand position means providing a sustainable competitive advantage, or brand promise, for the customer experience. The result helps you manage a range of critical success factors:

  • Increased market share
  • Increased awareness
  • Increased differentiation
  • Increased lead generation
  • Increased customer loyalty
  • Increased internal motivation

It is easiest to define your brand as the sum of all experiences your prospects and customers have with the product or service you are selling. In our brand-driven culture, strong brands take up a larger percentage of mind share. They influence decisions to try, repeat and remain loyal to a product. And over a customer’s lifetime, that loyalty represents a huge value.

Brand Architecture

A key component of brand development is the selection of a brand system structure.A brand system is important to companies with multiple products or service lines and numerous customer constituencies. This becomes particularly relevant to companies investing in an aggressive sales expansion or acquisition strategy. Examples of brand systems include:

  • Umbrella brand:One brand name, no product or service names, several markets
  • Range brand:One brand name per market segment, no product or service names
  • Line brand:Single brand for lines of very closely related products or services
  • Endorsing brand:Separate brands with own identities and positions; visible endorsement of brand guarantor
  • Product brand:Separate brands with own identities and positions; no visible endorsement of parent company

A brand system generates a strong unity or synergy between overall brand, product/service lines, business units and sub-brands.

Brand Equity

A strong brand is simply a bottom line issue—a long-term asset that drives margin and volume. Brand equity follows a basic model. To those prospects that are not aware of your brand, it does not exist. For those who are aware, the challenge is to continually seed brand-supportive knowledge into the mind share. If what your customers perceive, and know, about your brand corresponds with a positive use experience, you will see preference and market share growth, ultimately followed by loyalty and potentially dominative brand pricing.

Strong brands are able to demand a premium price. Brands such as Starbucks and Nike produce a much higher margin than weaker brands, on the perception of name alone. This is in spite of the fact that there may be little or no actual extra value in the product. A strong brand also has a head start when it comes to launching new products. Think of the leverage and influence of Apple, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Google, GE or Sony.

In an environment of product parity and commoditization, your brand may be your most precious corporate asset. So, whether building a new brand or revitalizing an existing brand, making any kind of adjustment must be done with a high degree of insight, deliberateness and precision.

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