What Is Brand Building?

In its simplest form, a brand is a name used to distinguish one product from its competitors. It can apply to a single product, an entire product line, or even a company.

But how did companies such as Saturn, GE, Kodak and Harley Davidson create successful brands that have withstood time and often fierce competition? Brand building creates strong brand identities, manages extended systems of subbrands and develops brand equity measures. Brand- building is more than a name.

A company's brand is the primary source of its competitive advantage and a valuable strategic asset. Yet, too often, the brand message to customers is weak, confused, irrelevant, or, worst of all, indistinguishable from competitor offerings.

The challenge for all brands is that they have a distinct, clear image that matters to customers and truly differentiates them from the other competing brands. Brand building is the key step to creating a broad brand vision or identity that recognizes a brand as something greater than a set of attributes that can be imitated or surpassed.

A brand not just as a product or service, but it is an organization, a person and a symbol. The brand-as-organization perspective focuses on the associations of the company's people, culture, programs and values -- such as making a priority of innovation, a quality- or customer-focus, or leadership. Such organization associations are more endearing and more resistant to imitation by competitors than are product attributes.

A brand personality can make a brand more interesting and memorable and can even become a vehicle to express a customer's identity. Thus, a Harley Davidson motorcycle rider might feel more macho and freer of a confining job and its attendant lifestyle. A brand without a personality, not unlike a person, lacks friends and may be easily overlooked.

Brand Building Components

The responsibility for brand building management, and brand building components, falls squarely on the shoulders of front-line marketers. Keeping pace with new developments, finding out how other companies have solved branding dilemmas and keeping one jump ahead of your competitors can play an important part in the strategies you employ to imprint your brand firmly on the consumer psyche. The primary components to building a brand entail:

The Rub Between Short-Term Needs And Long-Term Smarts

The old rub business building versus brand building -- both are essential.

A key marketing investment and spending question to ask is "Is this concept a business-building idea or a brand-building idea?" Business building is a short-term focus. Brand building a long-term one. Both are essential.

Business building is investment spending where the return is generally expected to occur in the same accounting period -- usually a year -- as the expense. Brand building, on the other hand, is investment spending with an eye toward tomorrow's return. Using the dog-food example, if the marketer decided to invest $10 in free samples against each customer, knowing there would be no financial return for the year, that brand contact investment would have a longer-term, brand-building return.

Even though some marketers do this today, they seldom view their strategy, or investment, in terms of customer-level spending out and return dollars in. Most marketing, and particularly communication managers, have no way to understand the financial impact of their investments as a return to the organization.

Please contact me to explore ways your advertising & marketing communications can offer financial impact and a return on your investment.

 

Ray's Food Place Branding Effort By Patrick Feld

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