The brand is an effective competitive tool – it can be activated selectively once its specific function has been understood.
How is a brand generated?
The foundations of any business success are exceptional performances: whether FMCG, investment goods, or services – in every branch customers or clients can only be acquired, and retained in the long term, if they see a particular advantage for themselves. Something that is relevant for them, that no-one else offers, and where they feel the cost is well justified.
If a company has developed such specialities and provides them at a constant level for a sustained length of time, the company can evolve into a brand. On the one hand, an image is established – based on many positive experiences of customers, business partners and employees, and the general public – that is also characterized by an emotional connection. On the other hand, more and more people become aware of the services or products and – once they are convinced of the advantages – will themselves become active ambassadors who, in turn, plant the same idea into the minds of even more people, at an ever increasing speed.
Why is a brand important for business?
Brand values have developed which, from now on, will provide the company with competitive brand strengths, particularly in terms of a high profile, trust and empathy. These are hard added-value factors which have a direct positive impact on marketing efficiency and price acceptance by customers; in very many companies they form the basis of a stable and predictable business development – even though this connection is not easily grasped, due to the high complexity of individual cases in the operative daily business.
So the brand, already paid for, is available to management as a competitive weapon for the dynamic development of future business – as a booster with turbo effect and for all external marketing initiatives which often have to be implemented by Marketing, Communication and Sales at considerable effort and under extreme time pressure, as well as all internal management activities affecting the attitude and behaviour of the employees.
How does a brand generate the greatest business impact?
In order that the brand can achieve its full impact as the driving force of business success, one key requirement must be met: the company’s specialities resulting in the brand strength in people’s minds must be experienced as a single entity – at all points of contact. All services and activities must be subordinated to this overarching goal and therefore geared consistently towards one point: from the messages communicated and design of the visual identity, the overall range of services/products and the individual product features to selection of distribution channels and presentation at the points of sale – everything has to reinforce the effect and feed into the images of each other.
Every perceivable service must strengthen the message of the company’s specialities to create an intensive brand experience. Like an engine where several cylinders work together, the services and activities of the company must be attuned to each other and set off the right spark. This is the only way to build up the positive pressure towards customers, business partners, employees and the general public necessary to prevail in today’s cutthroat competitive world.
Which challenges must be overcome?
Fulfilling this requirement is a major challenge for management. On the one hand, the demand is high: people are extremely sensitive about the consistency of a brand system. Unsuitable elements – whether faulty services, misrepresented qualities or inaccurate messages –, which do not fulfil expectations, become apparent immediately and lead to irritation, distancing and ultimately to a reluctance to (re)purchase and to pass on the brand message.
On the other hand, the starting position in the company is usually highly complex: a range of services or products which has evolved over the years, complex organizational structures and changes, many decision-makers with differing opinions and interests, various target groups with specific requirements, as well as sudden trends or competitive activities, make it very difficult to determine this one positioning point even for oneself, let alone to make it come alive collectively – resolutely and without compromise – at all customer points of contact, in all markets and to all target groups. From a brand aspect, the challenge is considerable in strategic development processes – whether in connection with updating and improving existing services or introducing new offers in expanding the company’s business.
What is the first step towards mobilizing the brand?
If the intention is to mobilize the brand effectively under these conditions, in our experience it is essential that a company understands their brand and its way of working unequivocally, completely, and in detail.
This refers particularly to the success factors of the brand, which are the reason for the brand strength in the business. With the help of these success factors, the brand values and benefits relevant to the customers can be aligned with the actual company services. They can be defined in detail as the corporate brand concept and also linked to the management systems. In this way, the targets to be met from a brand aspect are set firmly and unmistakably so that, in its daily business, management can systematically reproduce, monitor and develop them further in the individual departments and points of contact.
This results in a solid foundation to mobilize the brand comprehensively and with appropriate commercial seriousness for the business. Work can proceed efficiently across the board towards the real goals of every company: to have an unassailable monopoly in the minds of customers and target groups. The brand leadership tools of today can provide professional assistance in this respect.