by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded
Some marketers believe that branding is just a logo and a set of colors. Others believe that branding is completely unnecessary. The common wisdom is the better your product or service is, the more successful your business will be. Though this makes logical sense, more times than not, your customers are not logical. Branding and marketing are the keys to business success in my opinion. Now, a quality product/service is necessary. You must have that just to be in the game. This is why the thing you do or sell is quickly commoditized.
Brand is a short cut for your customers. In America, many of your customers and prospects have busy lives. They have 3 meetings, 2 reports, and 4 customer crises to handle before the end of day – and that’s just on top of their regular work. On the consumer side, your average parent has 1 soccer practice and 1 baseball practice to shuttle back and forth to, a lawn that needs mowed, and 2 cars that need their oil changed and new tires. All of this on top of their 50+ hour work week. Often, customers don’t have time to do in-depth research on their next purchase. If there is an unknown product out there that is far superior and cheaper, it is unlikely it will be found because of time limitations and lack of familiarity. Brands are given credibility, sight-unseen. They are a known factor. Marketing helps products and services become brands. Here are a few points:
- Superior products/services usually don’t win – As stated earlier, the common wisdom is that the better you are at what you do, the more successful your business will be. This doesn’t hold true in the marketplace. In a report issued by Goldman Sachs a few years ago, they studied what makes a successful investment firm. They found out that superior money management wasn’t the key. They found out that asset gathering and retention was the key for a successful investment firm. In layman terms, it is marketing. The skill at which they marketed and won business and showing a positive growth rate, was the key to success. It wasn’t showing superior earnings over their competitors, but it was creating a better brand name than them.
- Your competition isn’t against your competitors – Your real competitor is indifference. The number one killer of losing a sale is non-action. Your customer decides to do it themselves or do nothing. Off-brands offer nothing compelling to dissuade customers to do nothing or to look elsewhere. Brands carry an emotional appeal that cannot be achieved by the DIY mindset or inaction. If you present too many facts and figures about your company, you’ve offered me no emotional fulfillment to take action on what you have to offer. On the other hand, you show me how your brand can fulfill an emotional desire, I will see no reason to do it myself or even wait.
- Fear is a stronger driver of purchases – The fear of not making the wrong decision is more powerful than making the right decision. This is true in the vast majority of purchase decisions. Brands offer a safe, known quantity that is backed up by the brand promise. In the mind of the customer, buying an unknown is all risk and little reward. The more important it is to them, the more brands count. When you buy something that is important and dear to your heart, do you just buy any generic name or do you only buy the brand you believe in and trust?
Can you develop a successful company without marketing and branding? Sure, but your position and your customers will be easily taken from you the moment another company starts to market and brand their products with the goal of acquiring the majority share of your customers’ minds and emotions.