When you think of a company, do you see it as a Brand or a Business? Its an important question that companies the world over must ask themselves if they are to truly understand what their customers think of them.
Lets take a start up for example and look at the opportunity it has to grow. An ambitious entrepreneur has a couple of options when creating a strategy for success. They may place money at the top of their wish list or, if they are clever, they may lead with a product people actually want and place much less importance on profit at this stage.
Of course, you can not ignore the subject of money forever, but to create something that will be around for years to come, you must start right at the beginning and know your audience. Once you understand what people need, you can set about creating something better than the competition. Not cheaper, but better.
Once you decide on your course of action and the sector you want to focus on, the next stage is about engaging with the public and driving sales. Again, this is where you can decide to be calm and structured or impatient and greedy depending on your product or service. If you choose route A, your plan will undoubtedly need to be more complex, including tools to really understand your customers and investment to ensure you are offering a solution people will embrace.
Choosing route B may see you with a quicker return however your customer engagement will be poor and your business will suffer from bad reviews, negative social chatter and ultimately a downturn in the initial revenues. This route only ever leads to high staff turnover, poor user engagement and a constant feeling of chasing your tail.
To create a company that people engage with, talk about and return to time and time again takes time, effort, investment and a huge amount of patience and planning. Firstly, you need to ask yourself ‘Do I even understand how consumers behave in 2016?’ Am I up to speed on all the different options available to me to promote my product and do I personally represent my brand?
And there it is…That word BRAND!
Understanding the difference between Brand and Business is vital if you are to grow a base of loyal, returning social advocates that spread your message freely without incentive or reward. The successful creation of a ‘Brand’ means people are talking about you, you stand for something more than money and your presence in the market place is growing organically.
Think of an advert you see on TV, one that stands out and promotes a big brand. How do you feel when it comes on? Does it make to want to buy the product or service? Usually these ads are pretty pointless in terms of a direct sales tool however, its not about that for these brands.
“These ads are about cementing a name in millions of peoples minds, over and over again. People already know what they do and they have no need to ram products down our throat but without the constant reminders, people may forget them for a while. This is Brand Marketing in its simplest form.”
John Lewis epitomize this at Christmas time with their unique campaigns that are anticipated for days and weeks prior to launch. When you are surrounded by a nation of people that skip ad breaks habitually, this is some achievement. In these campaigns however, they are not talking about a product or service, they are not mentioning price or sales, they are merely telling a story to draw people in.
“The social chat about these adverts over the last 2 years has been incredible and as a brand building tool, they have been priceless.”
McDonald’s is another great example of story telling. Yes, they do offer a range of ads that are designed to make you run out and buy a £1 cheeseburger however the real message is in their stories. They capture the emotion of everyone watching and ensure people remember them above all else.
They ensure that McDonald’s stands for more than just fast food and that its a way of life. That morning coffee or bacon roll, the milkshake when you need a quick fix or the old faithful Big Mac when nothing else will do.
To Sum Up…
These brands are just 2 from a whole host that ensure ‘Branding’ is a major part of their ongoing strategy. The best Brands of today are the ones that don’t panic, rush or cut corners. Their strategy revolves around the input needed to get the desired output and the steps involved in supporting those movements (Staff, Training, Resource, Marketing, Research). It is also no coincidence that the staff development and progression within these organisations is award winning.
“A Brand is something you recognize, something to talk about and share with your friends. A Brand never needs to talk money or discounts, it gently sews the seed in your mind, over and over again until its a permanent feature in your thought process. A Brand understands its customers and delivers on what they want.”
It places value on repeat custom over all else and is forever creating new and inventive ways to keep its customers happy.
A Brand is something you trust, form a bond with and get attached to.
A Business is something you find on Google when you need something done.
A Brand is something you are loyal to, follow socially and speak highly of.
A Business is something that serves a purpose for the right price.
Are you a Brand or a Business?