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Successful branding builds presence

I AM fascinated by companies, particularly successful companies. Some companies seem to operate as such an impregnable force and market presence that they never falter – Coca Cola, Mercedes or, on a local scale, Brownes.

But each of these companies is a brand and it is the brand that acquires value.

Jaguar is the epitome of an English limousine yet it is owned by Ford. Volkswagen now owns Rolls Royce. A great brand outlives great companies.

Marketing builds the brand and everyone in the company or firm should contribute to the brand building process.

Successful branding creates the perception in the mind of the prospect that there is no product or service on the market quite like yours.

A new phenomena is emerging and it is the ultimate in brand-centred buying on the Internet. Consumers are buying cars from websites without even seeing the cars or going for a test drive.

In financial services, there is a growing trend to offer online services, direct access and cheaper commissions, giving traditional stockbrokers a run for their money.

People will put their trust in brands more than ever, particularly when there is no personal contact.

Whether you work in a manufacturing company, a professional firm or offer a service, you should concentrate on directing the forces to build your brand and create great wealth for your organisation.

Start on a small scale. These brands stand tall in WA in their categories – Cicerello’s, Dome Coffee and Jim’s Mowing.

Compare these brands with your local fish and chip shop, local coffee shop or unbranded lawnmower man.

However, the laws of creating the brand are very much the same irrespective of the size of the organisation.

For a brand, less can be more. Do not confuse more sales under a brand for a stronger brand presence. Sales are a function of the strength or weakness of the competition.

In the face of strong competition, expanding your brand will diminish your power and weaken your image.

A brand becomes stronger when you narrow its focus; stock in depth, buy cheaper, sell cheaper and dominate the category.

A brand needs advertising to stay healthy.

To increase market share your advertising spend will need to be greater than your market share. Not every product or service can rely on being unique or first in its category.

Generally, the only way you can approach market leadership is to take your product to the public arena by paid advertising, with publicity also playing an important role.

Your brand should own a word or short phrase. Some products own their own category with the brand name such as Kleenex or Band Aid. In some cluttered markets a word can set your brand apart. For example, Volvo = safety.

A recent local example of a successful brand launch which could soon rate as one of the best examples for years is the B mobile telephone retailer.

It is rapidly establishing the desired positioning of simplicity with “B clear and simple” having successfully launched in WA, South Australia and soon Victoria.

Every leading brand should have one claim that elevates it over the competition. It is the ingredient that makes people want to call you first or consume your product.

It may be perception, even puffery, in the case of brands that have little in distinctive qualities. For example, Meads and Red Herring have the credentials that establish a leading position in the top seafood restaurant market.

The law of credentials does not rely on advertising. PR or word of mouth can provide brand leadership credentials.

Building your brand on quality is not the formula for success. Quality may have nothing to do with a leading brand.

A leading brand will generally have the perception of quality or service excellence. A strategy that should be considered is to provide a good quality product at a higher price. Then you may have the perception and positioning of a quality product.

If you narrow the focus of a product to such a degree that there is no longer a market for the brand, you may produce your own category or sub-category where you can be market leader.

The most important decision you will ever make is what to name your product or service. The second most important is how you will position it in the market place.

One of the fastest routes to failure is to give a brand a generic name. Look into a more creative name, backing it with publicity and advertising to establish it in the minds of consumers.

If you have been able to absorb and implement the most important laws of branding you will be on track for your company to build a solid base of brand equity and value for the future.

When we pay more for a litre of Evian bottled water than for milk or alcohol, that is the power of branding and it should motivate every company to apply the branding process to achieve greater wealth.



Howard Read has been chairman of Marketforce for the past seven years and has previously held positions of general manager and managing director with the firm. Marketforce is ranked number one in Business News’ List of WA’s Largest Advertising Agencies. Mr Read is also WA chairman of the Starlight Children’s Foundation, chairman of Scitech Discovery Centre’s marketing committee and an honorary ambassador for the WA Convention Industry.

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