Positioning a brand in the minds of the consumer market

THE newspaper you are reading right now is a brand. As publisher News Ltd’s boss Rupert Murdoch discovered many years ago, the masthead of a successful publication is a negotiable asset that has considerable worth on a publishing company’s balance sheet. So what is a brand? It can be a person, a place, a product, an event, a TV show, an animal bird or fish, even a building. You could even think about promoting and positioning yourself as a brand. A person? The state premier is a brand. Think of a TV, radio, or sporting personality, and you’ll see they have carefully cultivated a personal brand image. A place? Western Australia is a brand, so is Australia. Fremantle, Margaret River and Rottnest Island are all brands with different personalities and appealing to different people. An event? The AFL is a brand, as is the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics; even the local school fete is a brand that derives its image and appeal from the school, its teachers and pupils. Government program? Such as ‘Life. Be in it’, ‘Go 2 & 5’, the Cancer Council’s ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ are all brands, defining family exercise, nutrition and sun-care respectively. A TV show? Think of Australian Idol, Desperate Housewives or Who Wants to be a Millionaire, even the evening news. Each TV network and local station is a carefully positioned brand. An animal, bird or fish? Angus Beef is a huge brand in the US, Australian Wagyu beef is exported to Japan, Barossa chickens are prized by foodies and fish species (brands) can vary by state like cobbler and whiting. Even a building. The Sydney Opera House, Melbourne’s Federation Square, Perth’s London Arcade and Hobart’s Salamanca Place are all brands that help define the cities. Brand image. To quote advertising legend David Ogilvy: “You have to decide what image you want for your brand. Image means personality. The personality of a product is an amalgam of many things – name, packaging, price, the style of its advertising and above all, the nature of the product itself.” Promoting a brand. Traditional advertising might not always be the best means of promoting your brand. The best way to figure this out is to define your target audience. Who do you want to reach and what do you need to tell them? Once you’ve done this, you need to consider the most effective medium – TV, radio, press, specialist magazines, posters, direct marketing, public relations, interactive, one-to-one – a range of options and costs so many and varied you will probably need expert advice. The promotion of your brand might start with the basics — design, logo, website, and the development of a customer database. Positioning a brand. It is often said that products are made in a factory, but brands are created in the mind. Think about the experience you deliver – whether you’re selling cars or cleaning offices – how does your customer feel? What is the one word that describes this feeling? If they feel good, your brand goes appreciation goes up; if not, it goes down. Positioning a brand in the minds of a specific target market is exemplified by Red Bull. It targeted the teenage market, by focusing on one word ‘energy’ and then created an advertising line “gives you wings” that could be interpreted in different ways in different countries and still be considered cool. Launching a brand. Question 1: Why do you want to create a brand? Answer: because you want your potential customers to believe in your product or service. To create trust. You trust your greengrocer because its fruit is fresh, you trust your local butcher because mum went there, you trust your supermarket to give you the best price and your corner store to give you the friendliest service. How do you know when you’ve created trust? When you hear your customers start saying ‘my café’, ‘my hairdresser’, even (shudder) ‘my dentist’. Sustaining a brand. As that old Mortein ad goes: “When you’re on a good thing, stick to it.” Consistency brings with it comfort and trust. Think about the brands you or your family buy, week in week out. Review your promotional strategy. Are you getting a good return on your promotional dollar? Is your brand positioning in line with your customers perception of your brand? Reviving a brand. Breathing new life into a forgotten or superceded brand is difficult, but not impossible. Is the problem with your brand or your customer base? What is the story behind your brand? Does it need re-telling or should it just be told a little better? How do you tell your brand story face to face? Does your promotion echo this? It should. Finally, as a marketer, manufacturer or service provider, it is too easy to think of yourself or your company as the creator of your brand. Wrong. In fact it is your current and potential consumers – the people you are trying to reach – who make your brand. While most marketing concentrates on what consumers say about the brand and good marketing concentrates on what people think about the brand, the very best marketing concentrates on what the brand makes people feel about themselves. Whether you’re placing an advertisement in the Yellow Pages, launching a new product or promoting an existing service, get professional advice on defining, positioning and growing your brand. Your brand could be your biggest asset, so ensure you care for it as if it is your very lifeblood.

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