Not that you want to kill your brand. These are five stumbling blocks that get you labeled but not branded. If you are not careful and aware of what is happening your customers will define who you are and label your product or service. Brand developers constantly monitor social media and talk to customers because they know listening gives them the edge. 9 Steadfast Rules of Branding
Don’t bother asking questions
“We know what our customers like. So there is no need to ask them.” Assuming that you know what your customer thinks and wants is dangerous. Brand developers repeat this mantra five times daily—“It isn’t what we don’t know that gets us into trouble, it’s what we know that isn’t so.”
Who is in charge?
Everyone in charge is no one in charge. Having several people work without clear direction on the brand image and message will lead to inconsistency which will lead to confusing messages which will lead to oblivion. If it appears that you don’t know who you are, your customers will not know either and will cease to care. Brand Developer Simple Idea
Accounting has the information but doesn’t believe that marketing is a good investment so they work to keep marketing in the dark. “We don’t share.” We actually knew of a company where the accounting department began designing and purchasing marketing materials because they “could get it down quicker and it wouldn’t cost as much.” The brand image suffered. The staff became discouraged. And the customers noticed.
Bob Evans, CEO of Bob Evans Farms, told me “my background is accounting and when I took over the company from my dad I took a look at the budgets and I slashed the marketing and advertising budget to zero. In two minutes I set the company back five years…and you can quote me on that.” Persistence Key to Brand Developer Success
More is more, not less
Marketing is about narrowing the focus. “Less is more.” If you are Ben and Jerry’s ice cream your focus is not hot dogs, pizza and ice cream. It is on ice cream. This is one of the most difficult concepts for owners to accept. They remember Sears and Roebucks and think they can be all things to all people. The more products/services you offer under your brand the more you dilute your brand.
Harvard Business Review article “Kill a Brand, Keep a Customer”
by Nirmalya Kumar, December 2003 Issue, “Unilever had 1,600 brands in its portfolio in 1999, when it did business in some 150 countries. More than 90% of its profits came from 400 brands. Most of the other 1,200 brands made losses…”
Change is the only constant
Change is a constant…except for brands. I am not referring to innovations. Brands need to be innovative but not change the promise or experience that defines the brand. Apple Computer is innovative but the brand is still ‘Think different.’ Coca-Cola is still Coca-Cola. All though Coca-Cola could not resist changing the brand because of Pepsi’s ‘Taste Challenge’ advertising campaign. Coca-Cola after ninety-nine years existence began to believe the advertising of its competition and decided to create ‘New Coke’. Innovate but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The magic of marketing is the art of brand building. “If you are not a brand you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low cost producer is the only winner.”
About Ken Gasque
Ken Gasque is a brand developer—a professional marketer with a design background. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing. Ken writes and lectures on brand and brand development.