Thoughts on Branding & Marketing

Leaders Go Beyond Branding

Gail Guge, CEO & Brand Strategist
Guge Marketing

Leaders know the importance of branding. And building a solid brand and recognition level for your company takes more than knocking off a logo or a series of ads. It requires a focused strategy, a comprehensive approach and a consistent application of basic principles.

The goal of the branding process is simple – to help discover your company’s unique positioning. You have to boil everything your organization does down to one thing – one singular claim of distinction. It’s what makes you unique.

Once your brand is determined, you then must develop the creative process that will ultimately deliver marketing, advertising and public relations programs that communicate that claim of distinction.

Will branding make you more money?

The short and long answer is yes. Here’s what branding does to bolster your bottom line. It provides a clear and defined reason for a customer to do business with you encourages your customers’ brand loyalty for repeat business and referrals betters your company’s recruiting outcomes because people want to work for the best brands increases the value of your company since companies with strong brand recognition are more valuable than non-branded companies improves margins by creating premium value Consumers perceive brand name products as higher quality, more reliable and of better value for their money. The #1 brand typically has a 10% price premium over the #2 brand. And the #1 brand typically has a 40% price premium over the generic. So if your customers would pay 10-40% more for your product – that should be a pretty compelling reason to establish your brand.

A Brand is “A Singular Claim of Distinction.”

Let’s start with the definition of a brand: “A Singular Claim of Distinction.” It’s that simple. No science. No mystery. It’s about synthesizing your company and all it stands for into one thing. A brand’s distinction is what separates it from its competitors, what makes it stand out as extraordinary or what makes it really different. It could be as simple as a colorful founder like Orville Redenbacher or as dramatic as breakthrough technology like the Macintosh computer. Whatever that distinction may be, that is the brand.

There are hundreds of great examples of successful brand development to support the contention that to be a successful brand, it must deliver distinction. Let’s look at some claims of distinction that have become famous for delivering on their promise: Hallmark = Care; Starbucks = Cool; L’Oreal = Beauty; Fed Ex = Guarantee; Lexus = American Luxury. In every case, each brand clearly communicates its uniqueness.

Want some local examples? Consider that Ontario Mills = shoppertainment; IEHP = affordable healthcare; and Ontario Airport = convenience. What does your brand stand for?

To find your brand, start with a brand discovery session

It’s not easy to uncover the essence of your brand. That’s why we developed a process called Brandus OperandiSM. To start, we lead our clients through an interactive half-day brand discovery session designed to determine your brand personality.

This casual four-hour session is the ideal opportunity for top management, marketing and operations to jointly uncover your company’s brand essence and play a role in the establishment of your brand’s communications.

We start with discovery. Facts and lot’s of them. We examine your company, the history, products, people and culture, where it comes from, how long it’s been around, and what your company is all about. We also want to hear great stories of the past. The glory and the horror stories. We want everyone to be comfortable giving personal accounts and opinions. Remember, we’re looking for the essence of the company and much of it is hidden in the personalities gathered in the room.

Next, we focus externally on your customers – and their top three needs and desires. Then we look at the competition and trends within your industry.

Once three to five unique selling points are established and agreed upon, then we can narrow it down to the final equation: Your Company = ___________.

Ta dah! Your brand is born.

And now creative implementation begins on the brand franchise. All external communications and reinforcing internal operations flow from that positioning statement or concept. Think of it this way: it’s the agency’s job to communicate the brand and it’s your company’s job to deliver on the brand. And start to finish, there’s no better way than through Brandus Operandism.

In the end, when someone says, “tell me about your brand” everyone will have a clear, definitive and scripted answer. From customers to employees, people will know what your company is about