If you are involved in any aspect of brand strategy, marketing, advertising, finance, social media or any other disciple having to do with branding—you know the Holy Grail is Brand Preference. But many companies and marketers don’t really understand the steps and permission customers demand to relinquish this cherished trophy.
So often, B2B companies and corporate brands misunderstand the time commitment and investment needed. Just this month, we’ve had several RiechesBaird clients ask for help educating their executives and boards around the case for investing in their brand — hence our thoughts on building brand preference. Here’s a simple structure to help you visualize the order and relationship of each step with the appropriate brand discipline and expectation.
- Awareness. There are no short cuts.
Bottom line: Customers won’t buy from companies they don’t know. End of story. So often, corporations are fooled by the notion they don’t have to invest in advertising or can’t afford it. Maybe advertising is the wrong term, but never expect to achieve brand preference if your target consumer or investor is not aware of you. You’ve got a problem if your pipeline is struggling, you’re not getting invited to the dance or you’re not receiving RFPs. No matter how well you are positioned, if you don’t open the pipeline, you’ll never get the opportunity to pass go. And to help you justify the investment, conduct research on the competitive leaders in your space and determine what they spend or spent to reach their targeted audience. General rule: Invest double what your leaders are spending for a few years (sorry, but this strategy is proven to show results) if your want to quickly enter into the consideration set…which leads us to the next step.
- Understanding. Consideration is everything.
You have to be known for something. Understating what it is your customers are considering in terms of your product or service is key. You must clearly determine and evaluate the competitive space you wish to occupy and mange the brand consistently over time to achieve a clear understanding of what your brand stands for. Establish a strategic brand management philosophy and process and put it into place. This will help shorten your invest strategy over time. Brand inconsistency is a killer. Not having a well-managed system of checks and balances as they relate to your brand is sure death over time.
- Preference. Think Different
Not only be known for something, but be known for something unique. You must find a “Compelling Truth”. So often marketers land on commodity positioning – strive to achieve a brand position that inspires an emotional reaction, let value propositions and product positioning work its magic at a lower rational level, but don’t compromise your corporate brand position – make it something special. If you don’t believe the position, rethink it. If you’re not clear about its differentiation, re-examine it. And if you’re not emotionally engaged by the idea, re-brand it.