B&A Strategy

The Basics of Branding

fierce-brandingBranding is one of the most important aspects of any business, no matter what type of organization you run. Having an effective brand strategy can give you an upper hand in today’s competitive market. You may be asking, “What exactly does branding mean?” “What is a brand strategy?” and “How do these two things help my business grow?”

Put simply, your brand is a promise you make to your customer. Your brand tells customers who you are, who you want to be, and what they can expect from your products and/or service.

Are your services expensive and serve a niche market? Ask yourself, is your service high quality at a high-cost, or, low-cost but high-value? You’re going to have to choose, because you can’t be both. Who you are should be based on what your target market wants, and who they need you to be.

What is a Brand Strategy?
A brand strategy is the what, where, when, how, and to whom you communicate your brand messages with. A good brand strategy differentiates your offering from your competitors’. In thinking about your brand, try answering the following:

  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don’t rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.

Brand Equity
Having a solid and consistent brand leads to strong brand equity (the intangible added value brought to your company’s products and/or services that makes it acceptable for your company to charge more for your products and/or services than what seemingly identical unbranded products charge).

Christian-Louboutins-red--007A great example of brand equity is high-end footwear designer Christian Louboutin. Louboutin launched his line of luxury, red-bottomed women’s shoes in France in 1991. The red-lacquered soles have differentiated Louboutin from other luxury shoe brands, and have influenced women all over the world into buying and wearing high-end shoes. People will pay more for the promise of luxury, quality, and the red-bottomed recognition that comes with wearing Louboutins.

Bottom line: the more recognized your brand is, the more real estate you take up in your consumers’ minds, and the more power you have to persuade your target market to buy your brand.

Defining Your Brand
Trying to define your brand is like a journey of corporate self-discovery. It can be time-consuming, difficult and at times uncomfortable – but in the end, it’s worth it!

Is your brand defined? Do you have a strong brand strategy in place? Do you understand the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers? Do you rely on what you THINK they know rather than KNOWING what they know? Comment and share your branding successes and failures with me. If you are looking to define your brand and/or develop a brand strategy, please feel free to contact me at 416-653-3053, or info@creativeworksmarketing.ca.

Case Study: How Strategic Crisis Management Can Save Your Brand

tylenol

Good brands are not immune to disasters, and disasters have the capability of ruining relationships you have spent time and money on building with your customers (such is the case with Jian Ghomeshi’s personal brand right now!).

Although there have been many large brands that have suffered brand crisis’s, I wanted to highlight Maple Leaf Foods and Johnson & Johnson’s because I particularly liked the way they handled themselves in brand crisis’s that had the potential to seriously damage their businesses.

The two case study’s below underscore the need for having a successful brand management strategy in place to help you navigate your brand out of whatever sticky situation you may be in.

Maple Leaf Foods

On August 23, 2008 a Toronto Maple Leaf Foods plant was involved in the outbreak of the food-borne illness, Listeria, caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. One day later, Maple Leaf recalled 23 of its products that were distributed the previous week, and the company estimated the recall would cost it at least $20 million.

So what did Michael McCain, the CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, do to help repair what brand damage had been done? He held press conferences and posted a public apology on the company’s website. Another spokeswoman from Maple Leaf Foods hosted interviews with a wide range of media, and they ran TV spots and advertisements in newspapers. Their strategic approach reassured customers that the risk was gone, and that they could feel confident in Maple Leaf Foods once again.

Johnson & Johnson

In Chicago in 1982, the leading painkiller medication in the United States at the time faced a horrible crisis when seven people died after taking extra-strength Tylenol that had been laced with Cyanide. Bottles of Tylenol were tampered with and once the connection was made between Tylenol and the reported deaths, public announcements were made to warn people about consuming the product. As a result, it’s market share decreased.

Pretty bad, right? Well, it could have ruined their business, but Johnson & Johnson was quick to respond and immediately removed the product from shelves across the US, which accounted for about 31 million bottles, and a loss of more than $100 million. They also stopped all advertising for the product. After, they reintroduced their product to the market with a three-way, tamper-proof bottle. They offered customers a $2.50 coupon on the purchase of their products, and over 2250 sales people made presentations for the medical community to restore confidence that had been lost. Within a year, they had regained their market share.

What’s your brand crisis management strategy? How important do you think having a strategy in place is? To be a tad controversial and push the limits: Do you think there is anything Jian Ghomeshi can do to repair his personal brand? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and insights in the comment section below.