The brand is the key component of any sales strategy. It is the packaging that companies use to distinguish their product from a competitor’s.
Apple is a brand. So is Amazon. And Chevrolet. Each brand has its own loyal customer base, AND each brand has its own competitive territory. Apple is a tech company, but it’s also a lifestyle company. Amazon is a seller of goods, AND a distributor of video content. Chevrolet is a car. Or a truck. There are many other vehicle brands out there, but Chevrolet has a certain cache among Chevrolet owners – so much so that they will continue to buy Chevrolets even though other brands provide more horsepower, or more comfort, or more towing capacity.
Marketers spend billions of dollars appealing to THREE types of customers:
- 1) the brand loyal customer
- 2) the customer whose loyalty to another brand is wavering
- 3) the customer who is new to the market
Why is Branding Important?
The most successful companies understand their brand, and how to effectively manage the brand’s story, image, and appeal. Apple is a good example. After losing the PC wars to Microsoft, Apple was in dangerous territory, teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and a likely takeover target. In 1997, Apple had an installed base somewhere near 9% of the market. Windows boxes controlled 85% of the market, with a small percentage split among several other competing PC competitors. Today, Apple is a giant, generating more than $200 billion a year and with a market cap of nearly a trillion dollars. How did this happen?
Without a doubt, the single biggest factor was changing how the BRAND appealed to customers. In 1992, Apple products were more expensive, rather banal, and above all, somewhat clunky and unreliable. Today, while the product lines remain more expensive than their counterparts, they are equally reliable. They are innovative. And above all, they are stylish. That last characteristic is KEY to understanding how the brand now operates. Apple is not a technology company. It’s a lifestyle company. How else do you explain people trading in perfectly serviceable iPhone 8s for the new $1k iPhone 10?
Why You Need a Brand Strategy
There’s an old adage in sales, “you can make a living selling something that people need, but you can make a fortune selling something people want.” THAT is the key to Apple’s success.
And that’s the key to your success. As a marketer, you want to create a “want” in customers. For some products, it’s easier than others. Apple has a large, loyal, and hip and trendy customer base. This, in and of itself is enough to bring in new consumers.
But what if you sell commodity goods? Well, again, it comes down to what people “want”. Charmin grabbed a large market share by convincing people its product offered more comfort than competitors. Bounty grabbed market share by convincing people their product was more absorbent. And Chevron introduced “Techron” into their marketing, suggesting that their gasoline was better for cars than Shell’s. Or Valero’s. Or BP’s. It’s not crucial that there be an actual difference, only that the customer PERCEIVES the difference. And that’s BRAND’s role.
The difficulty for marketers is finding a message that works. Just saying your product is “hip” isn’t enough. Taylor Swift using your product while working out is better. That’s endorsement. (Apple Music) Just saying your product tastes better isn’t enough. Blind side-by-side competition is better. That’s taste testing. (The Cola Wars) Just saying your pickup is more powerful isn’t enough. Showing your pickup out-accelerating the competition is better. That’s comparison.(The Chevy Truck Challenge) Simply put, BRAND is the tool you use to sell your product to consumers. It has to appeal to current customers. It has to appeal to new customers. Or a perceived need. Or benefit. But most importantly, it has to create a want.
Build Your Brand
Camp Creative can partner with you to analyze how your brand is perceived and help you build the best relationship you can with your target market. We will help you vividly convey your message and build trust and loyalty with your customers. Let’s get to work.