Brands and Branding

Branding: yes, you need a brand.
First, branding is a key defense against commoditization – a situation in which a company’s products and services become perceived by buyers as being interchangeable with those of other companies, so buying decisions become driven by price. With the trend toward instantly and globally searchable competition across all product and service categories, the pull toward commoditization is now an elemental force in marketing. The value of branding – intelligent, relevant, branding that effectively differentiates you from your competition – has never been higher.

Branding will not create a spike in cash flow or market share.
Quite the opposite in fact: it costs time and money to build brand equity whether you’re launching a new brand or re-launching an old one.

If you’re [tag]rebranding[/tag], by the time you’ve spent enough time and money on advertising and marketing, the conditions that triggered your quest to rebrand will have changed. Rebranding as reflex action to stem losses in market share is stupid.

At a certain point, sales is branding: the more sales you have, the more market share you have, the more people see and hear of you, and the more they will think of you. Without sales and market share, branding accomplishes nothing.

Rebranding costs you equity – and customers
Even if you don’t think your current brand has much of a positive image – or even a negative one. No mere sloganeering or banner-waving is going to make your customers think any differently about you.

More-important, your customers – and you do have them, even if in declining numbers – know what you have to offer. Indeed, they are probably coming to you for precisely the qualities you’ll walk away from by rebranding. Re-branding to polish your image will fool neither customers nor lenders.

Re-branding is almost never customer-driven, and almost always internally driven.

Branding was cheaper and easier in the old days
Television time was inexpensive enough to be cost-effective, especially at fringe times, even for small businesses. There was less competition in the media, less noise. People had longer attention spans. If you’re walking away from a brand that was built prior to the late-1990s (or, in fast-moving industries like web services, as little as two years ago), you’re throwing away a corporate asset that you simply cannot afford to replace.

A brand is a long-term holding in which marketing communications are short-term investments!

What can you do with your brand, this corporate asset, if it no longer fits your corporate mission?
You adapt it. You re-position your brand or your product or your service. Through a change in positioning instead of in branding, you harness the power of your existing brand while at the same time re-positioning your company for growth. You have to think, mind you, but you’ve got a multi-million-dollar head-start by being able to reconcile the past with the future.

With goods and services becoming increasingly commoditized, a strong brand identity is the only way to survive!

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