5 Branding Misconceptions

The mass-market, advertising-agency model still influential in brand management, is fast becoming obsolete. Brands are changing in many ways and the traditional role of brand as a proxy for quality has diminished. Branding remains crucially important, yet it increasingly finds its power through a tighter integration with business design. Overcoming five widespread misconceptions and myths about branding can help organisation to win in the brand-building game.

1. Brands are built mainly through advertising.

In today’s increasingly service-oriented economy,something has replaced advertising as the key to brand building: the customer experience. This represents the sum of a customer’s numerous interactions with a company, each of which is a moment of truth that can, to varying degrees, enhance or erode the brand. And a positive customer experience, so crucial to the health of brands in service industries, also plays an increasingly important role in product businesses. The purchase of a product, which used to be the final interaction between company and customer, now is often only the beginning of an ongoing relationship that includes after-market service or the creation of customer “solutions” that incorporate but overshadow the physical product.

2. Brands are used primarily to influence customers.

Although most brand strategies are developed, quite naturally, with the customer front and center, they will fail to generate sustained growth in profitability and shareholder value unless they target not only customers but also investors and current and prospective employees.

Besides the three primary stakeholders—customers,investors,and talent – there is a fourth constituency that,although it plays no direct role in driving profitability or value growth, is crucial to a company’s health. This is the group of regulators, media, and public interest organizations that can affect a company’s real or de facto license to operate.A company that ignores this audience in positioning its brand risks a hostile response when it seeks their support.

3. The key to successful brand management involves understanding the effectiveness of the brand in today’s marketplace

While achieving such an understanding is a worthwhile aim, on its own it risks creating a dangerously complacent view of a brand’s health. More important is being able to anticipate a brand’s relevance to the most valuable customers of tomorrow. One way to look over the horizon and glimpse future brand pitfalls and opportunities is through the discipline of pattern recognition. Analyzing a library of brand patterns that have played out in the past can suggest how and when a brand should evolve.

4. Brands are symbolic and emotive and therefore are managed primarily through creativity rather than analysis.

While brands appeal to the heart as well as to the head, they can be quantified and analyzed with much the same economic rigor as other business assets. One means of doing this involves a detailed assessment of something we call brand equity.

5. Brands are the responsibility of the marketing department

Because brands derive their power from the value that they symbolically represent, there must be real value in the branded products or services.Otherwise,a brand will simply create false promises — a surefire way to erode its strength. It has long been true that a product must deliver on the brand promise. But in an increasingly service-intensive economy, employees, not just the product, determine a company’s success in delivering on the brand promise. Giving employees the tools and leeway to satisfy the customer across the entire customer experience can tremendously protect or enhance a brand’s strength. Delivering on the brand’s promises requires the involvement of virtually every employee in all areas of the organization, even those who have no direct customer

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