Let’s see what you have – a great product, competitive pricing and robust after-sales service. Despite these, is your startup turning out a failure? The first question one should ask at this juncture is – Does my startup have a brand? In the highly competitive global market of today, the importance of a powerful brand has never been greater. Branding is the single most important tool companies need in order to be able to reap the benefits of their hard work. And this is no exaggeration!
No Hard Feelings Anyone!
It is a popular belief that to build a strong brand, all that a company needs is a fantastic brand name and the services of a top notch branding firm. However, whilebrand marketing can popularize a brand, it can never strengthen or “create” a brand.A great brand is only possible when it induces feelings in potential and pre-existing consumers. What this implies is that the product, line of products, and the customer service should strictly be in alignment with each other, should reflect quality and excellence, should reflect the values of the organization, and should induce positive feelings among consumers.It is only possible if companies are dedicated at delivering what they promise.
Delighted Customers, Great Brand Value
Delighting customers adds value to a brand. If a company has delighted customers, even if the company falters in some of its products, consumers will choose to ignore these. Likewise, if customers experience negative feelings due to a bad product or service, it negates brand value. In such a case, even if the company comes up with better products or amends its services, it may still take some time for consumers to forget and let go of the negative brand image. According to Forbes magazine, bad customer service led to the fall of Dell Computers from number one to number three, while the great design and after-sales service of Apple ensured customers ignore some of the failed products launched by it.Failure to sell products or services that delight consumers will not only render brandinguseless, but may also make it counterproductive.
Do You Deliver?
The secret to great branding is delivering what is promised. It is reflected in the logo, tagline, design, colors, font, pricing, service, product, and customer relations of a company. A great brand lends a new dimension to the buyer of a product. One of the best examples of such a brand is that of Apple. Owners of Apple products consider one another as belonging to a single fraternity. People carry their iPods everywhere. One look at the sleek white Apple earphone on a person establishes a sense of belonging. A brand can never be created overnight. The idea behind the brand captures the attention of customers and makes them think, recall and appreciate the good that a product brought to them.
Brands become powerful because of the strong emotional connect they make with consumers. An apt example would be that of Pepsi and Coca Cola. While Coca Cola may lose to Pepsi in blind tests, it is still the most consumed coke in the world. Its success is because of the consumer loyalty it has garnered over the years, wherein people cherish it, reminisce their good times with the drink, have an emotional connect with it. As stated by a Coca Cola executive, “If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.”According to a 2007 survey of global brands,the brand equity of Coca-Cola was valued at US$65.3bn,less than half of its true market value!
The secret to great branding is to connect with consumers on an emotional plane and to be recognized with positive feelings. The idea behind the brand captures the attention of customers and makes them think, recall and appreciate the good that a product brought them. A great brand implies customer loyalty, which companies can never afford to lose.