Some people believe that branding is marketing. Branding is not marketing. It is, however, an integral part of your marketing strategy. It is a crucial function of how your product, service or business interacts with clients, prospects, vendors, employees, and anyone else with whom your product, service or business comes in contact with. Branding creates an image.
And, proper branding will create consumer loyalty. For example, what beer do you drink? What clothing store do you prefer? What’s your favorite brand of automobile? Take this exercise a step further. What image comes to mind when you think of the Yahoo? Macy’s? Wal-Mart? Chances are that, unless you’ve had a bad experience at one of these stores, your perception is a result of branding strategy.
There are said to be 5 levels of brand recognition:
- Brand Rejection
- Brand Non-recognition
- Brand Recognition
- Brand Preference
- Brand Loyalty
If someone associates your brand with something negative, they will purposely avoid your product. Have you ever experienced bad service somewhere and swore you’d never return to that chain? Have any of your customers said that about your business? Create a logo and slogan that is filled with great benefits to your customer and put that on everything. If public opinion is turning against you or your product, launch a campaign to alter it.
This is where your customers simply don’t recognize your brand… probably because it is not clearly differentiated from competitors. Boldly state your product or service’s benefits. Always include the full trademark name whenever you refer to your product. Be willing to create brand names for your products or services, just like you’ve done for your own business. Find the differences in value between your product and your competitors and highlight that difference mercilessly.
This is a good stage to aim for if you don’t have any recognition at all. Brand recognition will help people lean toward your product when given the choice between your product and one they have never heard of. At the same time, though remember that your competitors are also working on brand recognition, which means their brand could be more recognizable. Continue to differentiate yourself and be sure to add value to your product in order to get to the next stage.
This is where customers – given a choice between two brands – will choose yours over someone else’s. It often is the result of a sense of differentiation and that your product or service uniquely serves their needs. As well, you can be sure that any value-added products or services you include help them to choose yours over your competitors. Even though this is a great stage to be in, it’s not the final stage. The stage you absolutely want to be in with your brand is…
This is where your customers will choose your brand over all the other brands out there time and time again, even if they have experienced the occasional poor service or if another product comes along that seems to be better suited to their needs. This is the resilience the brand you have created. To achieve brand loyalty, you need to provide a product that is highly differentiated, with plenty of value added, but also you need to offer them remarkable service at a level they will not get anywhere else. Providing this level of service will ensure that they will never switch.
Thanks to Syncrat for the source of data.