When was the last time you needed to blow your nose and asked someone for a “facial tissue?” Or cut your finger and asked for an “adhesive bandage”? My guess is you asked for Kleenex or a Band-Aid – brand names that have become synonymous with their function. That’s the power of a great brand, yet this is the question I get most: what is a brand, anyway?
Here’s my answer: a “brand” is what prospects think of when he or she hears your brand name. It’s not just the name or the logo. A brand is everything the public thinks it knows about your product – both factual (e.g. it’s the cola in the red and white can), and emotional (e.g. it tastes better). A brand name exists objectively – people can see it. But your brand exists in people’s minds – they feel it.
So, a brand name refers to the name that signifies the source of a product or service, while the brand refers to the perception customers have about that product or service.
In an ideal marketing world, your business has a brand name that is totally unique to you so whenever you see or hear your brand name mentioned, you know they’re talking about you.
It’s also true that people form their opinions and perceptions about your brand long before they ever use it.
Marketing isn’t a process of selling goods and services to customers – it’s the art of making customers buy goods and services over and over (and over) again.
Because marketing has become so consumer-driven (people increasingly receive information about these brands from, among other things, their social connections) what other people think about your brand is more important than ever. As Scott D. Cook, co-founder of Inuit, puts it: “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is, it’s what consumers tell each other it is.”
Be the first in your prospect’s mind
Back in the 80’s, Al Ries and Jack Trout paved the way for a new way to think about making marketing memorable that’s still just as important today: The best way to be remembered is to be first into your prospect’s mind representing a clear perception (from Positioning: The Battle for your Mind).
The power of “new”
I grew up with cassette tapes, then CD’s…now I’m streaming music through the air! And then there were VHS tapes, onto DVDs, and now I’m watching in High-Definition 3D! It was a big deal when DVD players came along and I vividly remember the first Blu-Ray disc I ever purchased. I couldn’t tell you the second one I purchased, though.
The point is that it was memorable! The first was especially memorable because it was also new. Jerry McLaughlin, a Forbes Magazine contributor, wrote in The balance of power rests in the hands of the consumer: The Importance of Being First:
“People love to know what is new. That’s why the ‘news’ is such a big business. We can’t help ourselves. Marketers know it too. No wonder there’s a ‘new’ Tide seemingly every other year. Is the product really that new? Maybe, maybe not. But it gets our attention. And if it really is new, it gets more than our attention. It gets remembered.”
Brands people love to hate
Social media users clearly have a lot to talk about when it comes to love and hate. Brands and consumers often have a love/hate relationship. There are even brands that people love to hate. Starbucks is one of those brands.
Bruce Horovitz, a USA Today contributor has this theory about Starbucks:
“Starbucks has a problem that every other brand only wishes it shared: It’s too damn good. It makes money hand over fist. It turned employees formerly known as counter help into baristas — then slipped them into catchy duds and put some basic benefits into their pockets. It sells the only gift card, that, when given in $5 increments, is still viewed by the receiver as a mini-treasure. Oh, did we forget to mention that it makes killer coffee?”
You know a brand is growing strong with customers when they give it a nickname. Who doesn’t love shopping at Target? To this day, whenever my family has shopping to do, we’re always headed to “Tar-jé”. Sometimes this can be very bad for a brand, though. Just ask Whole Foods, who has tried for years to overcome the consumer-created moniker, “Whole Paycheck” (obviously because the perception is it costs a lot to shop there). And hey, have you shopped at “Needless Markup” (Neiman Marcus) lately?
Is your brand first in your customers’ minds? Great branding (not just your brand name) is how you get there and our team and I are here to help you get there. Call me a call at 888.904.2168 x101 or request a free consultation online.
Where will your brand be 6 months from now? Let’s get started and see!