The Power of Branding Part 2! The Changing Landscape!
Updated: Jan 3, 2019
How Brands are Changing
The consumer’s voice has become louder and much more public. Consumers can publish their experience of a brand and compare it with the experience of others. The ability of a brand to respond to this can have a profound affect on the way they are perceived. It is also affecting the types of brand that achieve prominence. There is even a thriving market in brands whose primary strategy is to champion the consumer’s voice, #Tripadvisor, #Compare #the #Market, comparison sites for example. Also, in the last few years hi-tech companies and the digital communications revolution has completely transformed branding and the influences that control it, #Google and #Apple are typical of these.
#Coca-Cola, although still very high in the branding league tables, could be seen as a victim of the digital and hi-tech age, after 13 years of dominance in 2013 Coca-Cola was knocked off the top spot in #Interbrand’s influential listing of the top #100 #global #brands. The two brands that overtook it were indicative of the way the world has changed. At number one was Apple, and at number two - Google. Both companies rooted in technological innovation, but perhaps more importantly both brands that are focused on providing products and services, that make people’s lives easier.
Apple’s transformation from a computer manufacturer to a media giant didn’t happen just because of the introduction of the iPod and iPhone. It happened because they developed revolutionary new services around those products - iTunes and the App Store. They thought very hard about their customers and what would make their life easier. Whilst Google has started to develop hardware products its brand is rooted in its incredibly popular search service.
Both those brands are resolutely #customer-focussed, and great branding and responsive behaviour has allowed them to build the right kinds of connections with the their customers to thrive. Although eclipsed by the two technology giants on that particular chart, Coke also continues to use its brand clout to create the closer connections with people that today’s communications landscape demands. A great example of that is the #‘Share-a-Coke’ campaign they launched in the Summer of 2013, allowing people to buy a bottle of Coke with their name printed on it.
Why do you need a brand?
Branding can help companies or individuals stand out from their competitors, add value to their products or service, increase profitability by charging more for their offers, sell more products by creating feelings of trust and greater engagement with their customers.
Creating a difference
Branding, as mentioned in the previous article, creates a difference in the products and services it offers, as well as Apple, Google and Coke there are many examples closer to home.
#Innocent Drinks, for example, use distinctive packaging design, with a hand drawn logo, vibrant, combibed with unusual colours which represent their juices and stand out from their competitors’ products.
Founders Richard #Reed, Adam #Balon and Jon #Wright met as students at #Cambridge and were on the corporate ladder when they decided to set up an ethical, healthy business of their own. They spent a week selling homemade smoothies at a jazz festival before quitting their jobs and starting to pulp pineapples, mangoes and bananas for a living.
A cheeky email asking mates: ‘Does anyone know anyone rich?’ netted £250,000 from US investor Maurice #Pinto. Twenty-four smoothies were sold on their first day in 1999. Innocent now shifts a healthy couple of million a week, about two-thirds of the UK market.
The result is a brand that appears more premium, healthy and perhaps even more original, edgy and daring. In comparison, almost the same products can be purchased as own brand at #Sainsburys, #Tesco or #Morrisons - but these own brand juice products haven’t captured the market presence that Innocent have achieved.
Innocent’s marketing looks artless but it is effective enough to make grown Ad men cry. The brand’s success is as much about innovation as it is about image: it put the squeeze on rivals by coming up with a product that was better - and higher margin - than anything else. The founders also possessed enough cheel to shake hands with the big four supermarkets that account for most of Innocent’s sales!
People are generally willing to pay more for a branded product than they are for something which is largely unbranded, and a brand can be extended through a whole range of offers too.
#Tesco, for example, began life as an economy supermarket, “stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” but now sells a wide range of products, from furniture to insurance. But a consistent application of the Tesco brand attributes, such as ease of access and low price, has allowed the business to move into new market sectors without changing its core brand identity.
This adds value to the business, but consumers also see added value in the new services thanks to their existing associations with the Tesco brand. Of course, this can work in reverse too: if consumers don’t like the Tesco brand in one product area, they’re less likely to choose the company’s offer in another product area.
Connecting with people
Creating a connection with people is important for all organisations and a brand can embody attributes which consumers will feel drawn to. Apple’s original launch of the #iMac, and then the #iPod and #iPhone, for example, catapulted the company from a computer business to a mass-market entertainment brand, with iPod marketing drawing heavily on people’s emotional relationship with their music.
By moving into music and mobile phones, Apple redefined what the company did and shifted its brand association to something that connects with larger numbers of people outside computing or the creative community. They continued this shift with the introduction of the #iPhone, #iPad and #App Store bringing portable computing and its software into mainstream consumer culture. In doing so the brand has become more and more entwined on the lives of consumers making it incredibly powerful.
The next article in the ‘Brand’ series will look at the key ingredients of a brand, defining the brand, and creating a vision.