Branding: it’s time for straight talking

There’s so much talk about branding, and so many “experts” trying to turn it into a pseudo-science, that it’s easy to feel confused. So let’s try to demystify the process

What is branding all about?
Branding is simply about how the consumers perceives your company or your product. The aim is to give the consumers a reason to prefer your product or service to that of your competitors – an aim shared by every other part of your marketing communications.

The mystique arises because self-styled “experts” have managed to turn branding into a black art. It isn’t. It’s simply a matter of common sense, creativity and craftsmanship.

You are not alone
Every company and every product has competitors, who are all striving for market awareness and approval, just like you.

That’s why branding alone is not enough. You have to find positive differences between you and the competition – a process also known as “positioning” – and one can argue that branding is only the first step in creating a strong market position.

Customers are selective
Consumers are exposed to vast amounts of information on a daily basis. If you want to influence the way they think about your company or product, you must bear in mind that there are three obstacles to overcome:

1. Selective exposure
Your customer decides for himself what to read, watch or listen to. Therefore your first step is to select the media which give you the best chance of reaching him. Even in the industrial market, this is quite an art.

2. Selective attention
Consumers don’t read magazines and websites from cover to cover. They dip, they skip, they browse. The trick is to attract their attention and arouse their interest so that they invest time in reading your message.

3. Selective memory
This is probably the most difficult obstacle – and the most crucial. If the consumer can’t recall your message at the point of purchase, all your effort and investment have been wasted. It must stand out like a lighthouse in the ocean of information that surrounds us; only then will it be stored in the buyer’s long-term memory.

The craftsman’s tools
To earn a strong and positive position in the minds of your customers, your message must be both plain and focused. It must also take into account the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors – not easy, but if you focus on something special or different about your own company, not as hard as it might seem.

There are 5 key questions which will help you get to the core of your message:

1. Who is your target group?
2. What are the top 3 arguments for using your type of product or service?
3. What are the top 3 arguments for choosing your specific product or service?
4. What are the top 3 reasons for dealing with your company?
5. Who are your 3 most important competitors, and how do you differ from them?


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