Brands carry a lot of weight in the marketplace. You know yourself, your purchasing decisions can sometimes be influenced by the brands you know. That’s because brands create a set of associations in the minds of consumers – good or bad. Those associations create a strong rational reason to purchase.
When you’re in business, the most important distinction between you and another brand is not what you make, it’s what your customers want to buy. Give this some thought. You come to an intersection and there’s a coffee shop on each corner: Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Williams, Coffee Culture. Assuming prices are the same at each, which do you choose and why? You’ll make your decision based on what you know about each.
Branding is not a logo, not a brochure. It’s a company’s unique way of doing business and the unique experience you as a customer take away.
There are different ways a brand might make an impression on you.
Brands help you understand what the business offers. You might identify value by the referral you received, the price of the product or service, or the brand associations.
You might make the decision to buy based on perceived value – Are you getting value for your money? Does this product improve your lifestyle or make a certain task easier or more enjoyable? Are you willing to pay more for the same product somewhere else because you value the brand?
You might even buy other products from the same brand because of what you know. For example, if a leading car brand with a reputation for high safety standards decided to sell parachutes, you might be inclined to buy a parachute with this brand over another less known.
There are four brand models.
Threshold – There’s less here to differentiate one brand from another, so it takes a little more work to stand out. Examples are insurance, plumbing or utility companies, or legal firms. There’s no tangible product so the customer service experience and relationship building become key.
Functional brands are those that serve a purpose. Soap is an example here. Is the product you choose meant to give you healthy skin, a deep down clean or leave a fresh clean smell?
Image brands are those that create a high emotional connection. Sports cars, children’s clothing stores like the GAP, for example.
The fourth is consumer experience brands. These are the brands we value based on the experience we have with them, much like the coffee shops noted above or bookstores. This may also be a category where threshold brands can thrive, based on the customer experience they create.
There’s a lot to consider when you’re creating your business brand. The first step is to determine what position you want to own in your customers mind? Come back for more in my next blog!