Over the past decade, the term "branding" has been used in increasingly wider contexts within the packaged goods industry. Branding is often confused with advertising, which can be unhelpful in lending clarity to an already ambiguous term.
In its simplest form, branding relates to a product's or serviceís ability to create a relationship with a consumer; typically, via an appealing promise. Google ease of information, Maggi noodles convenience, and NRMA Insurance is cutting through with a unique promise to "unworry your life." Successful brands are anchored in propositions that are desirable, distinctive, and credible in the target consumerís mind. A summary of the purpose of branding can be found in Walter Landorís prophetic quote of 1964: ďProducts are built in the factory, brands are created in the mind.Ē
So, which brands exemplify outstanding branding and what are the unifying principles common to all of them?
A. Brand principles
1. Get emotional
The difference between being rational and being emotional is that rationality leads to a conclusion whereas emotion leads to action. The rational benefits attached to a product play a substantial role in cementing a brandís place in the mind of its target market. However, a rational benefit can be easily replicated by competitors. Anchoring a brandís position in the psyche of the consumer allows a brand to develop a connection with customers that most rational claims cannot.
2. Be distinct
In the initial stages of a brandís life, the ability to be both relevant and distinct will determine a brandís overall success. A brand cannot rely on trust and character alone when starting out, because these have yet to be established. Having a differentiated idea that is relevant to the consumer is critical. Distinctive branding stems from clear brand positioning. At the foundation of the brand position is a clear blueprint of whom the brand is targeting, who the competition is, and how it will be beaten.
3. Be the first to claim and the first to own
The majority of market-leading brands are there because they identified a distinct and appealing position in the minds of their target market and then aggressively developed a proposition to exploit the opportunity. Genuine innovation creates awareness, which can then lead to consumer loyalty, as long as the brand experience lives up to its core proposition. The ultimate measure of being first to market is becoming the genericised term for a category: Xerox, Hoover, Kleenex, or Band-Aid.
4. Be insight-driven
Sometimes the right way to reveal the simple difference at the core of a brand is to look for an obvious and universal truth that no one else has seen. Insights are not inventions. A great insight is an acute discovery that brings a human need and a market opportunity together.
5. Keep your promises
Brands that resonate strongly with consumers typically do so because they display an underlying commitment to exceed consumersí expectations. Creating and sustaining customer loyalty is a primary objective for most brands. The ability to continually live up to promises will not only build loyalty, but will also generate brand advocacy.
6. Begin advocacy at home
The positive influence of employees is often overlooked when considering a brandís points of impact. For service-oriented brands in particular, an engaged and passionate workforce contributes substantially to the strength of a brand in the eyes of its customers. Creating a community of engaged employees is a highly effective mechanism for driving brand awareness. Firms that empower their employees to truly embrace the brand promise develop a network of passionate brand ambassadors.
7. Leverage your own media
Brand communication should be viewed in the context of "the media you own" and "the media you rent." Maximising all brand touch points plays a main role in overall awareness and engagement. Today, it is too simplistic to believe paying media fees is still the best way to activate awareness and conversion with the consumer. Effective brand development will identify and leverage touch points your competitors can neither access nor influence. Aside from increased consumer engagement, leveraging your own media is financially savvy.
8. Create a dialogue
Old-world marketing involves a one-way flow of information to the consumerówith a take-it-or-leave-it approach. Consumers will definitely "leave it" unless given a way to interact and engage with their favourite brands. Digital platforms and provocative offline experiences enable consumers to bond with and influence the products and services they favour.
A. Singapore Airlines stands apart from other airlines because of the consistently thoughtful and customer-centric commitment to service that its employees deliver from check-in to arrival.
B. The launch of Cascade Green signalled a new commitment to responsible brewing and enjoyment. As such, it was important to get past the "friends and good times" imagery of most beers. Eye-catching environmental stunts and standout vocabulary were just a few of the ways the public was invited to engage with Cascade Greenís sustainability initiative.
C. Harley-Davidson generates an emotional bond with its customers on multiple levelsóaspirational pricing, unforgettable engine roar, tribal badges on licensed clothing, and counter-culture ideals shared by Harley ownersí groups across the planet.
D. This is especially important in a time when authenticity is under scrutiny. The success of Google is representative of brands that are true to their word. The Google brand promises easy access to information for everyone. Through disciplined execution, Google has managed to extend this promise into new arenas without diluting its brandís promise.
E. Red Bull identified a gap in carbonated energy drinks with a distinctive, extreme position that it successfully replicated across the world.
F. FedEx benefitted from this principle when it recognised the ubiquity of its packaging and courier vans and used them to drive awareness. No advertising campaign could have better communicated The World On Time.
G. Head & Shoulders took ownership of antidandruff in the early Ď60s with a trademark blue-green formula. It maintains category leadership in antidandruff shampoo across the globe, and is the number-one selling shampoo in the United States by dollars.
H. When Audi brought out its new Tiptronic series of A4 sedans, it touched on both. The insight linked the driverís desire to avoid uncomfortable gear changes with an opportunity to provide the most seamless gear change in its class.
Branding need not be complicated, but in so many instances this occurs due to unnecessary tinkering in what should be a straightforward process. Great brands ruthlessly leverage one or perhaps a couple of brand principles well and then remain top of mind with the consumer as a result. Like many things in life, a simple and unhindered focus on a clear objective often yields infinite returns.
4. Complete the sentences with the following words: