A Tale of Two Brands
Why invest in corporate identity, corporate image, and brand strategy?
Most business owners already recognize the need for a strong visual identity and brand strategy, but hey, if global recognition isn’t enough, here’s a little story for you:
Brand X produces a commodity, I’ll let you play along by envisioning whatever you’d like [insert product or service here]. Brand Y produces the same product with the same market reach and operating budget. Brand X and Brand Y are in direct competition—same product, same reach, same distribution channels—it’s a level playing field.
But Brand X has a few competitive advantages, namely superior leadership that trickles down into great hiring practices and ultimately exceptional human capital. Ownership stresses providing a world-class product, experience, and customer service. Brand X has a purpose and goal: the company wants to serve 1 million people this year.
Brand Y produces the same world-class product, but leadership has failed to recognize the trickle-down effect of its core beliefs. Employees are interchangeable cogs and therefore perform as such even in customer-facing situations. Ownership focuses on leaning manufacturing processes and staff as a means to higher profitability. Brand Y has a purpose and goal: the company wants to move 1 million units this year.
For most customers these dynamics are behind the curtain, they just want a great product at a reasonable price. They can get it from either company and choose whichever is readily available when the need arises. But Brand Y loses a small share of its customer base every year—they’re turned off by the company’s customer service practices… management brushes it off as general attrition.
Then there’s a tipping point… Brand X decides to speak. The company communicates in the form of a unified brand message, one that imparts all of the qualities that make it special. They tell their story in a way that conveys their enthusiasm for their product. The enthusiasm is contagious and they begin to turn customers into fans. Soon, Brand X has a loyal following that not only buys its core product but an ancillary one as well—they’ve increased the lifetime value of their customers. Their happy customers share their experiences and influence more potential customers… Brand X is catching fire.
Brand Y sits back and wonders why their competitor is on fire. They’re under their sales goal for the year, but manage to cut budgets enough to eke out a slim profit.
Fictional, yes, but this scenario plays out in every industry and market today. Brands like Harley-Davidson, Apple, and Starbucks pull emotional strings within us, and mere products are transformed into enterprises. This takes place on much smaller scales as well. Most customers have buying preferences and often don’t even fully recognize them. This happens when— either consciously or unconsciously—their beliefs are aligned with a company’s.
It’s generally not by accident either. Companies design brand strategies to help align themselves with ideal customers. Once rolled out through active channels for the demographic, it’s how they not only attract customers but eventually captivate them.
Truly captivating customers—holding their attention—begins with the process of defining your competitive advantages. It continues by accentuating them and then designing an engaging brand story that communicates them.
Just as our journey began for Brand X: it starts with a visual identity; that forms a rallying cry; employees become brand ambassadors, and then customers become fans.