Posts Tagged ‘branding’

What Difference Does it Make?

By Eleanor Haas

What differences does it make?  That’s the first question for every entrepreneur and innovator.  

The country – and the world for that matter – is buzzing with new start ups.  Most of them will fail of course and it won't matter because most really don’t makd a difference for anyone.

How does your product differentiate itself?  That’s what the investor will ask – because being different from other products that serve similar purposes is fundamental to being marketable.

But isn’t it time for new companies and new products to make a difference as well as differentiate?  We live in a time when every product category is already saturated with options.  That’s why branding has become hot.  Creating a distinctive image in the minds of customers is the sine qua non of differentiation.  Now some entrepreneurs and innovators are adding an important new dimension to differentiating.  They are creating new ways to improve the quality of life.

Arshad Chowdhury did that to create Cleargears, a startup that promises to make a difference for employees of any company sufficiently enlightened to deploy it.  What it delivers is a system for real-time performance review by everyone of everyone.   Unlike the traditional process – and that hasn’t changed for years – where performance review occurs in huge chunks once a year from the narrow perspective of people at the top, Clearview delivers ongoing feedback in bite-sized chunks from the 360-degree perspective of everyone you work with – anonymously. The vision of Arshad and his early customers alike is that companies can perform better if they help everyone on the team perform better as well

Sandy Heck, MD, is making a difference with Reach Bionics, a start up that is developing technology to help paraplegics wirelessly control electronic devices by activating vestigial muscles around the ears.  

Michael Huerta and his partners at BrightPath Energy are making a difference by applying their skills in providing capital and deal infrastructure to the renewable energy sector.  One of their first projects is Power.ly, an angel-stage product company that solves cost and logistical problems for remote electricity – such as post-disaster, rural areas, the battlefield, or anywhere the grid is limited – with a truly portable generator that uses solar power. 

When I’m lucky enough to discover start ups like these, I hear Stevie Wonder’s lyrics echo in my head: “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

Branding: It’s the Muscle in Marketing

By Eleanor Haas

“In the end there
is no brand until the clients recognize it after it has been marketed.” So said
a dear friend as we debated start-up priorities.  To him, branding appears to be fluff and of
no consequence to a start-up.  But even friends
as smart as this one can be wrong.  In
this case, my friend has confused brand image with the branding process.

He’s
absolutely right that brand image exists solely in customer minds, the result
of repeated experiences with the brand, and marketing is generally key to
building brand awareness, if not brand preference.

But there can
be no effective marketing until you’ve laid the strategic base for it with
branding.

Marketing consists
of techniques and tactics that drive sales.  Branding is the business strategy that grows out of the art of differentiating your
business, your product or service in a compelling way.  It’s the strategic process that gives
direction to marketing and makes differentiation actionable.  Without differentiation you’re just a
commodity with no choice but to sell on price.

“Think Different” epitomizes
the branding strategy that enabled a computer hardware company to turn its
reputation around by differentiating it from dozens of competitors.  Establishing a brand image as an innovator
and supporting that with one innovative product after the other turned Apple’s
business around beginning in 1997.  The
ad slogan would be no more than clever words without the brand strategy behind
it. 

Blue Ribbon
Sports was just another athletic shoe company until it developed the branding
strategy that made it the company we know of as Nike today.  Nike was the Greek goddess of victory, and
that was the image the company used to differentiate its products – first, by
naming its first shoe design Nike, then changing the company name to Nike and,
soon after, beginning to sponsor professional athletes.  Marketing led to the great “Just Do It” ad
slogan in 1988 and the rest is history.

Cadabra, one
of the early online bookstores, designed a strategy of diversification,
choosing to symbolize its vision with the name of the world’s largest river,
Amazon, and then living up to that name to become the country’s largest
retailer.

So, think different – just do
it – become the biggest, the best or both by differentiating your business with
the right brand strategy and then implementing this with effective marketing.

Branding in the New Economy

By Eleanor Haas

It began as a stamped mark
of ownership on cattle.  It went on to
become a banner waved in advertising to help sell more products.  Now the brand is at the heart of the creation
of value, where the customer, business and product come together.

It remains a prized marketing
communications tool of marketing executives and their branding and ad agencies.  But for thoughtful business executives
attuned to the accelerated pace of change introduced by the widespread use of
IT and the Internet and intensified by what Chris Anderson has called “the diseconomies
of size,” only recently perceived as a result of the financial crisis of
2008-2009, the brand is gaining recognition as a specialty in its own right – a specialty that has implications for corporate business and operating strategies.

What is a brand?  The very essence of a business imprinted in
the minds of people through their personal experience – the perceived identity.
In other words, it’s no longer what a company says about itself.  Now it’s what people feel in their gut
regardless of what the company says.

What justifies the new
importance of this brand and its role as a specialty in its own right?  (1) The need to differentiate in a world where giant companies are downsizing and turning
loose hundreds of thousands of their employees, creating an immense wave of
both entrepreneurs and their new businesses and independent contractors and
their businesses as well. (2) The need to be
identifiable
in a world where technology makes it surprisingly quick, easy
and even comparatively inexpensive to create new products, some of them truly
innovative, many of them all too similar to each other.  Together all these businesses and products represent
an overwhelming flood of names competing for attention.  (3) The need to sustain relationships with investors, employees, suppliers and
customers beyond buying and selling transactions in this world of constant
innovation, commoditization and change.  (4)  The need to live the brand for it to be authentic and therefore effective.

Today’s new economy is
totally different from that of the 1990s. 
The latter was an illusion based on misunderstandings about the new
technology.  The former is grounded in
the realities enabled by that technology and the gradual dismantling of the old
economy.

Ten New Marketing Rules

By Eleanor Haas

New Marketing

1.     
Goal is to build relationships

 2.     
Segment customers by needs & interests or
behavior

 3.     
Market through a continuing conversation that
can become viral

 4.     
Messaging is a peer exchange

 5.     
Products are differentiated by brand and brand
stories

 6.     
Brand value grows out of delivery of the brand
promise and customer experience excellence

 7.     
Marketers and customers interact as peers in the
same space

 8.    
Use online gated communities to understand the market

 9.   
Speak honestly in a human voice, be substantive
and deliver content directly to customers that they will value

 10. Develop sales through engagement.

Old Marketing

1.       
Goal is to push product

 2.     
Segment customers by demographics

 3.     
Market through campaigns

 4.      Marketer
commands and controls channels and content

5.      Products
are differentiated by features

 6.     
Marketer defines brand value in terms of name
recognition and brand recall

 7.     
Marketers and customers are on two sides of an
impenetrable barrier

8.     
Focus groups

9.     
Proclaim through ad and PR intermediaries

10.  Push product in ads
and email