Strong brands are assets to the business as they earn a premium and create consumer preference. People trust brands which form the basis of their purchase intention and loyalty over time. Branding as a discipline borrows heavily from the social sciences and psychology. Strong brands are not created just through product design and communication but by finding a place in the consumer’s heart.
Marketers can follow a simple six step checklist to determine if they are nurturing their brands well and if their relationship with the brand is enduring enough.
Essence: It is the intrinsic nature or indispensable attribute which determines the brand character. The essence is the core identity of the brand. It reflects what the marketer wants the brand to stand for. For an example, the essence of the brand Fevicol is ‘sticking together’ or building bonds. The core essence of brand Google is ‘search’ and that is what remains indispensable to the brand.
Efficacy (promise): The unique and differentiated advantage of the brand defines its promise. The promise that the brand makes and the value it bestows to customers signifies its brand positioning. The brand’s value proposition can be functional (when it is a new category, new market or significant competitive advantage in terms of technology etc.) or emotional (when the product is a non-differentiator, brands try occupying a share of the heart). For an example, the value proposition of Dell is its superior customer service and customisation which is clearly functional. Dettol antiseptic on the other hand owns the proposition of ‘protection like that of a mother’.
Emotion: Branding is a process of taking the product from the left side of the brain to the right. Therefore, irrespective of the fact that the brand differentiates itself on functional or emotional benefits, it needs to identity an emotion through which consumers can connect with it. For example, Dairy Milk owns togetherness and Fevicol has emotion associated with lifelong association (the tone being humour). Today it’s not just the B2C brands but even technology and corporate brands that are trying to find an emotion to associate them with the consumers. For example, Cummins associates itself with passion to perform.
Employees: Before the brand interacts with the external customers, it needs to build association with its internal customers i.e. employees. If your employees do not believe in you, the customers would not. The people who deliver the brand experience or are at customer touch points need to be as knowledgeable and passionate about the brand as they actually make the brand. Ex. When Ponds launched their new range of anti aging solutions in Middle East, the launch was first done with Unilever employees so that their own internal customers could become brand missionaries.
Experience: This stage involves creating brand experience at every touch point. Brand experiences are created through appropriate communication channels including mass media, activations etc. Distribution channels and intermediaries play an equally important role in creating the right experience for the consumers. This stage would hence include most of the steps in the brand implementation plan, including communication, distribution, packaging, promotions etc.
Engagement: To have a large base of loyal customers, it is critical to engage them with the brand. This instils a sense of co-creation as consumers feel they are a part of it all. In a socially connected world, companies do not adequately utilise the potential of social media by using it only as a vehicle for information dissemination. When you are engaging with your consumers effectively, you are building a sense of ownership for the brand and hence deeper commitment towards the same. As marketers, we need to personify our brand and ensure that consumers find a friend in it.
Building brands is like nurturing children. They require the care and passion of a parent and continuity of investment and efforts to ensure long term success.
Originally published at https://goo.gl/KTyKnq