The reality of running a business in the modern era is that too many firms are operating in a competitive market where the product, price and everything being offered are pretty much the same. So how does a company differentiate itself from its competitors? The answer lies in branding and positioning your company at a different level through branding.
While branding or brand management might be a tough element to grasp at first sight, a thorough understanding of why it works would help any company to establish a unique position in its market.
Branding is about how you, as a firm, deliver a promise or stand for a particular belief and incorporate it into every aspect of your business to establish an image of your firm in your customers’ eyes.
Think of brand as a personality.
For better understanding, let’s look at it from a human relation perspective.
Each and every one of us have come across few people in life who always had that charisma in them. They were basically personalities who carried positive vibes with them wherever they went, in whose company we always loved to spend time. Be it an uncle in your neighborhood who greeted you all the time with a smile and had the humor to make you wink even on your most stressful day (or) a teacher in your college/university who knew how to get along with students of your age and at the same time was brilliant at teaching and whose class you never wanted to miss (or) a friend of yours who happens to be the most reliable friend, is always jovial and makes you feel positive all the time.
The three personalities mentioned above exhibit some sort of characteristics which we love to be associated with. Consciously or subconsciously we also expect the same from brands. We are affiliated to those brands who don’t just provide us with what we need but also exhibit brand personalities that are of significance to us.
Let’s take a look at how some of the top brands have attained considerable success (Brand Equity) by incorporating branding into their business model.
Nike were not just pioneers in supplying merchandise to professional athletes but they also happen to be a brand who proactively promoted fitness as a lifestyle, and still continue to. They basically see an athlete in everyone and inspire a common man to take up fitness routine of their liking. Anybody who is into active lifestyle or wants to take up a sport or fitness activity is bound to get attracted to Nike.
Compare that to say another brand who sell fitness apparel and all they do is stock up shelves in retail outlets asking its customers to buy products when they come to the store.
TOMS (One for One)
What if someone told you that if you buy a pair of shoes another pair would be donated to the needy for free? That’s precisely the concept that lead to Blake Mycoskie starting TOMS. Blake was in the midst of a holiday in Argentina when he had a first-hand experience of how people were suffering for having lack of basic amenities and decided that he would make a contribution by offering them free footwear that would change their lives for good.
This concept of One for One, was converted into a business model through which a social cause was served. Not just any social cause but TOMS allows all their customers to be a part of this wonderful cause.
LEGO was not just another toy brand or a company that came up with an average appealing toys. It was a brand that revolutionized toy industry. LEGO has created a system in their toys which craved for one’s own ideas and more importantly encouraged kids to express themselves through their toys. A system where hundreds of small building blocks needed to be put to good use in constructing various designs or models. The only limitation in their toys was the kid’s imagination.
As years went by, LEGO had extended their legacy by coming up with LEGOLAND which happens to be real time theme parks for kids to turn up and showcase their skills and ideas along with having fun.
Now that’s taking toys and children’s experience to a completely new level.
From the above three scenarios it is evident that each company promoted themselves through a strong brand message which helped them stand out from the rest. Their branding revolved around following their strengths and carefully planned board room strategies.
Nike – Lifestyle Brand. A brand image that reflects fitness and healthy living
TOMS – A strong social cause that turned potential customers into customers in no time
LEGO – Product innovation was at the heart of their brand growth
Remember, these brands were once startup organizations trying to establish their presence in the market. Sounds familiar?