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Five Simple Questions to Create True Brand Status

shutterstock_193169738POP QUIZ: Do you know the real difference between a product and a brand?

Product is an item made by a company and can be purchased in exchange for money. These fill up many shopping carts! Brand is an integrated mixture of tangible and intangible attributes, perceptions, expectations and experiences – they create a distinct and differentiating value and influence to the end user. Products are something you buy that can be easily copied, substituted and replaced, while brands are unique and something you buy into. The difference is a clear as the distinction between a latte and Starbucks.

Three reasons Starbucks brands is so successful? 1. A place for everyone 2. Ambiance 3. Convenience

Three reasons Starbucks brands is so successful? 1. A place for everyone 2. Ambiance 3. Convenience

While you might have scored a perfect 100 on this pop quiz, you would be surprised how many “professionals” in marketing use these terms interchangeably without really knowing the difference.

But how do I go about starting the development of my brand? Blogging Out Loud will begin answering that by cutting through the thick underbrush to focus on how to build a message for your brand that resonates with the people you want to reach. These five questions will narrow down what your product is all about and help you uncover the brand message that says it all.

1. Who is your audience? Think this through carefully. Everyone needs plates. Some people will spend $100 on a plate, others $1. Which of these are you trying to reach? Be a specific as possible, taking into account education, income, geography, age, presence of children, ethnic background, etc.

Too many brands mistake novelty and distraction for differentiation.

Too many brands mistake novelty and distraction for differentiation.

2. Can you describe your product without using buzzwords like “solutions-provider” or “cutting edge”? It will help to think of your audience as a friend: how would you describe your product to someone else in everyday conversation? People want a succinct, clear explanation of who you are, without the jargon. Jargon doesn’t mean much to the typical consumer—authenticity does.

Disney’s brand is so well entrenched that even though Disneyland has raised the price of a single day pass to a wallet-deflating $99, the Park still anticipates more than five million visitors in 2015. Because who, after all, would miss a chance to experience happiness?

Disney’s “product” is happiness. And it is so well entrenched that even though Disneyland has raised the price of a single day pass to a wallet-deflating $99, the Park still anticipates more than five million visitors in 2015. Because who, after all, would miss a chance to experience happiness?

3. What emotional need does your product fill for your target audience? A famed marketing icon once said, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Sure, the steak will fill the belly—but will it taste delicious while doing so? People want a great steak experience, not just something to eat. Similarly, When Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the new Apple Watch on March 9, he extolled health and its Apple Pay convenience as two of the key selling points, as opposed to what “makes it tick” (so to speak).

4. What sets your product apart from other similar products? It’s up to you to communicate why your product is the one the consumer wants to make part of their life. It may be one really cool, unique feature that can’t be easily duplicated by other companies. Or, it may be a combination of aspects that set you apart (and above) your competitors. Understanding your audience will help you find the unique selling proposition that appeals to them and assists in establishing your product as a brand they can’t live without.

“Built Ford Tough.” From the slogan to the gruff voiceovers in their commercials to the bold fonts in their ads, the “voice” of Ford trucks is reflected in the branding

“Built Ford Tough.” From the slogan to the gruff voiceovers in their commercials to the bold fonts in their ads, the “personality” of Ford trucks is reflected in the branding

5. What is your brand’s “image”? If you’re a selling surfboards, you’ll have a very different image than if you sell designer handbags and it will be evident in everything you do, from the design of your Facebook page to the background photo on your Twitter account. When creating your brand’s image, think about your ideal target consumer. Develop a brand personality that matches and complements your target audience, one that they will feel comfortable with. The vocabulary you use, the stories you tell, even the length of your sentences, all communicate your brand’s voice.

The personality of a luxury purse retailer is evident through the soft lighting and carefully arranged displays. By contract, the "surf stuff" shop is casual, a little disordered, and gives a fun vibe

The personality of a luxury purse retailer is evident through the soft lighting and carefully arranged displays. By contract, the “surf stuff” shop is casual, a little disordered, and gives a fun vibe

surf store

 

With the answers to the above questions now firmly in place, you’re well on your way to developing communications to establish a brand status. And with a brand you can cut through the clutter and show the people you want to reach why they want your brand as part of their lives. And from that comes brand loyalty and the creation of a long-lasting asset for your company.

And as an added bonus, the difference between product and brand is now crystal clear!erc-emotional-branding-16-638

If you’d care to share your perspective, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section. And don’t forget you’re always welcome to share this post!


Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency. Screen captures intended as illustrative examples only. Registered trademarks and logos are the property of their owners

 

 

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10 comments on “Five Simple Questions to Create True Brand Status

  1. aggreyboikanyo
    March 28, 2015

    Reblogged this on Boikanyo's Blog and commented:
    great

    Like

  2. Pingback: Five of the Best Marketing “Aha” Moments …Ever! | Blogging Out Loud

  3. Kim Haman
    March 16, 2015

    Hi Jeff! So glad you came by–and as usual, you add a comment that not only enhances what I’ve write, but takes it to the next level!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on DrHitmanPR's Blog and commented:
    This is a great article that everyone is in any vocation. If your branding yourself as the product–They are synonymous, then if the product is good you have to act and be better. If your the product, (speakers, social media consultants, everyone) the brand has to stay impeccable. Watch TMZ and some of the stars to see how NOT to do this..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kim Haman
      March 16, 2015

      Hi Allen! Great observation–it’s not just “products” but yourself as well.

      Like

  5. Phil
    March 13, 2015

    True Brand Status is a value to a firm’s balance sheet. That statement is often not recognized by those inside companies that put up obstacles in the way of creating brand building integrated marketing programs. “We need to cut the budget”, “We can’t spend that much on advertising”, “We need that money for trade deals”, “We need a higher ROI this quarter” – and the excuses go on and on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kim Haman
      March 16, 2015

      Hi Phil–agreed! Too many people fail to recognize how important branding is or how important it is to be consistent over time. They may think, “We’ve done our branding, we can pull the budget back.” But that attitude can lead to a loss of momentum, which can really damage a brand.

      Like

  6. Tommy Humphreys
    March 11, 2015

    It’s funny now that I am just reading this post – I was having a conversation this morning at work about Mickey Mouse – who, for years now, has been more than a brand mascot for Disney, he’s become their corporate identity (to use Jeff’s terminology). The problem here is that Mickey the brand icon has much less latitude in terms of behavior than Mickey the cartoon character. The branding aspect of the character has all but killed the entertainment aspect of the character. If you look at early Mickey cartoons, he was very much like a Daffy Duck or a porky pig. By necessity, he’s become bland almost to the point of being ineffective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kim Haman
      March 16, 2015

      HI Tom–interesting observation! Now that I think about it, you’re right. Those character have lost their edge–they are sweeter, more palatable versions of their early incarnations.

      Like

  7. jeffs zen garden
    March 11, 2015

    Great information as usual!

    I have found over the years that the brand is often mistaken to mean the corporate identity as well as the products and service a business or institution provides.

    I was recently asked to explain to the key stakeholders in an enterprise I am deeply involved with, the distinction between “Corporate Identity Design” and “Branding”

    Here is my sermon!

    Corporate Identity Design- A concise and consistently applied set of distinctive elements- colors, typography, and other visual cues used in unison with a distinctive logo mark and logotype. Creating a unified and consistent visual system that makes a product, service or organization easily identifiable. This identity design is consistently applied to all specific elements of corporate communications; stationery, collateral, internal communications, signage, uniforms, packaging, vehicles, etc.

    Branding- To form an overall perception of any product, service or organization across the entire internal and external enterprise spectrum; through a wide variety of means. These means range from the behavior and demeanor of staff, to lighting conditions and the music playing in the lobby, to the photography in print materials, to the tone of the copy in a brochure or website and social media. All of these elements come together, speaking with a consistent voice to position and deliver the aspirations, values and benefits of the product, service or organization represented. Successful branding creates positive associations and establishes consistent expectations for the user experience. Over time branding also adds immeasurably to the value of the company by creating deep awareness and passionate long-term loyalty!

    From a marketing perspective It would be correct to say that Identity Design is an important element of branding. But branding is much more all encompassing, being the cumulative total of all disciplines- advertising & graphic design, website, public relations, social media and identity design working in concert to create a unified marketing voice that is much greater than the sum of its individual parts.

    Like

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