7 November 2014
Without understating it, branding is a relatively simple concept, but often overlooked and widely misunderstood.
Misunderstood by many smart and very successful business people, usually, because there’s an element of unfairness in branding. If you work hard, make a good product, sell it for a fair price, and treat your customers well, great success is inevitable…
Yet, your competitors, fielding an inferior product and service, at a higher price, outperform you in the market. It’s unfair and it happens all too often. One plus two is supposed to equal three, and our minds rile against them when they don’t.
So how can branding trump all and elevate a company beyond the reach of its competition?
One word: Desire. Successful branding creates desire. Producing a product or service that fills a need, delivering it at a good price point, getting the word out, and taking care of your customers are all necessary ingredients, but without branding, the recipe is incomplete and the cake doesn’t bake.
Branding is not advertising. Advertising tells people what you’ve got. Let's be clear, advertsing clearly works, but only communicates and connects with those who have that impending or immediate need—so 'here's what I have', 'here’s why it’s good', and 'here’s how to buy it'. This is advertising, you need it so you buy it.
But not everybody needs what you are selling. Think about this: How many iPad owners need an iPad? I would venture to guess that the vast majority of iPad owners already have a gadget that fills their need to browse the web, send email, or take photographs. The vast majority of iPad owners bought their iPad because they wanted it. Apple, through branding, created desire. Some desired it to the extent that they were willing to camp out in front of an Apple store to get their hands on one.
We can’t tell them that they need our high-end interior product (because they don’t, perhaps in part due to their buying cycle), but what if we could make them want our product? We could tell them how good they will feel when they connect or use your product.
Branding is what makes them, on an emotional level, want it. Branding allows your business to pull away from the herd. It distinguishes your product from your competitor’s product on an emotional level. Branding tells the consumer, through imagery, sound, motion, and the written word, how they are going to feel when they have your product.
Branding distinguishes. Branding creates desire.
Branding is no accident. It rarely evolves organically—without thoughtful and deliberate cultivation. If your company has plateaued when you’ve done everything right—a good product, priced well, advertised well, and supported well—branding is the final ingredient. It raises your ceiling, providing near-limitless room to climb and leaves your competition below, behind, and out of range.