Branding – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Every time you go out with a group of friends and you have to choose a movie to watch, a place to eat or a place to go shopping you will have a debate. You are friends because you have a lot in common, maybe think alike but your perception of everyday things is very different. And that is a good thing, if all people would like and want the same things we will have just one company making shoes, one company making clothes and so on.

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            The Spartans were the best fighters in ancient Greece, a brand built in years of training and fighting, but if they would have lost at Thermopile the legendary fighters would have been just an unsustain branding campaign. You can tell your story using whatever words you want but in the end your story will be the one people tell about you.

            You must keep in mind 4 factors that make a brand, follow them and also choose your personal strategy, will you make the brand like you like it and believe that others will too or are you going to research before. Start your branding strategy with these words in mind:” Consumers build brands, not companies”. The 4 factors are promise, perception, expectations and elements. We will speak about each and one of them and hopefully this will help you improve your brand.

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Brand promise – this is the promise you make to the customer regarding your product or service. It is what you are saying they will get when using it. Watch out the fact that we are not talking about material alone. This is about the whole experience you create for your customer. We don’t actually believe that after drinking a can of Red Bull we will suddenly grow wings but we get the energy behind that promise. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about one of your favorite brands, what their promise to you was and what made you a fan. And finally remember to only promise what you can deliver, it can all go downhill fast when you break your promises.

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Brand perception – no matter how hard you work on creating your brand remember it is the client’s perception that can make or break you. In the end you may think you did a great job but not get the response you expected from the market because we are all different. Try and keep in mind the client when branding your products or services and work nonstop on creating accurate perceptions from the customers that truly give justice to your brand or you might as well start all over. Keeping in mind the perception you create you build the future campaigns and messages, if the perception of you is that you are an eco-friendly company you will not be involved in anything harmful to the environment.

I see the brand perception as the most important element here because it all comes down to the customer’s decision. Remember that people change and so do perception, always keep an eye on your customers and their views. A lot of great companies closed their gates after years of success because they wouldn’t adapt to their customer’s new perception about products and services. Branding shouldn’t be a one-time process but an ongoing operation influencing, creating and fulfilling client’s perceptions.

We had a good example at the World Cup in Brazil a while ago, after a Uruguayan player bit another player Adidas withdrew all materials with that player because violence is not part of the sport. Perception about Adidas is fair play, sports, athleticism so Suarez will no longer be a poster figure for them.

Brand expectation – based on your promise and customer perception you get expectation. Customers pay for your products and services and the want their expectations to be satisfied by your brand. After all, their expectations are based on your promises. And even more, those expectations have to be met every time otherwise you will get confused clients and in time you will have clients migrating to the competition. We just launched the Elegantine cocktail, using only quality ingredients so if we market it as a high class drink and price it the same as every other cocktail in the menu we create confusion; or if we start using different ingredients than the ones in the recipe.

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Brand elements – here we have all tangible elements creating a brand. Logo, motto, packaging, advertising materials they all help in giving your brand a face. All involved elements have to work together as a whole; they must paint a defining picture for your brand and set a clear path for the future. Chose them wise and remember that expectations not met transform into confusion and loss of clients so changes in this package should be rare and well thought.

Look at the Coca Cola bottle, that become one of the most iconic packaging elements in the history of marketing, or the bitten Apple that changed the PC. You link all the elements together they will make you your brand shine. On the other hand there some big failures over the years; Kodak decided not to go digital; United Airlines using white carnations for launching a new route in Honk Kong, local convention white is a funeral color; Nokia was about connecting people but missed the changes in people connectivity needs and the list can continue.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so if you have ten men looking at Miss Universe there is a good chance at least one of them may not like her that much. Try sending the right message to the right people with your brand, you will never get them all but if you do your homework and create a good brand those you transform into customer might never leave you as long as you change when they change.

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Branding is not only about characteristics, we have a cocktail for those who drink emotions; we have handbags for people who want to be part of a dream and we have underground luxury. Make your dream accessible to others and let them tell your story to the world!

*Mihai Chiratcu is an opportunity creator, trainer and free man. After 10 years experience in sales and businesdevelopment, he is using the knowledge gathered trying to bring a new approach in training and business consultancy. He brings you every Thursday special information and gives advices through the section “Business Opinions”. For more information, you can find Mihai at chiratcumihai@gmail.com.

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