Brands, brands, brands…
They're all around us at all times, yet they’re something we don’t tend to notice until we’re made aware of it, and, oh boy, when we are made aware of it, it’s so overwhelming.
In another blog of mine I’ve mentioned how brands have a heavy influence on us. The grip they hold on our everyday lives can only be realized when we don’t get to interact with the brand. Like when Tesco closes early on a Sunday and you need something after hours, only then do you appreciate the importance of a mere Tesco. It’s like that with almost all the products we use. How about when the phone charger breaks and you have to hold it in a specific position to get it to work? Then you realize how shitty the quality really is. Maybe even comparable to when you miss breathing out of your nose when you have a cold even though you’d never even give it a second thought normally.
But what is a brand?
Let’s try answering all questions exclusively using Marty Neumeier’s A dictionary of Brand, which should be a bible for all in the branding field.
Brand – A person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization; a commercial reputation.
What does that entail? The opinion that it is the perception, which I’m assuming is held by the customer, means that a brand can do everything in its power to market itself in a certain way, but it will be of no use if its customers don’t perceive it the same way. What is a customer’s perception based on? Is it based on the experience?
Brand Experience – All the interactions people have with a product, service, or organization.
If my experience doesn’t match the strategy the brand intended, then what? Then there is a Brand Gap – A disconnect between the business strategy and brand experience.
Keeping this in mind, we were asked to quickly jot down all the brands that we interact with on the daily, or that have influenced us in some way.
Here are the brands that I have some sort of connection with:
The haphazard bit is intentional, because that’s how they are in my head. Divided by categories yet overlapping at the same time. I’ve been using some of these brands since years, and I don’t even try to replace them, such as the Kellogg’s Coco Pops – I’ve been having them for as long as I can remember. I dart down the cereal aisle straight to them and don’t even stop to consider any other. Why is that so? I’ve asked myself that quite a few times. Do I love the taste? They recently changed the sugar content and there was a significant difference in taste, which I didn’t like. Then why didn’t I switch? Is it brand loyalty?
Brand Loyalty – The strength of preference for a brand compared to competing brands, sometimes measured in repeat purchases.
I simply developed a taste for the new, less tasty, version, because going through dozens of new ones to find another one that I like seemed like too much work. So, in the end, it was my comfort zone that made me stick to it. This reflects how strong the lock-in effect of this product is for me.
I also realized the abundance of streaming services I’ve subscribed to. Does it give me more options? Yes. Does it make my life easier? No. It takes a good 10-15 minutes to decide which streaming service to use and then another 5-10 minutes to decide what to watch. As great as having options is, at times, it gets frustrating. Then why do I have so many? Because two of those I got free for 6 months with my phone plan. Smart way to hook people onto something. I do plan on cancelling them as soon as the free trial period is over though. This affiliation and collaboration is another tactic used by brands to eithers raise brand awareness or simply to get more cash flowing in.
Brand Awareness – A measurement of how well a product, service, or company is recognized by its audience.
Then, there are some brands I keep switching back and forth, like my shampoo or skincare. Some I use because they’re cheap and I can’t justify spending more money on them than is necessary.
Another thing I’ve noticed is how fast brand loyalty goes out the window when you’re living on a student budget. I always seek the cheaper version of things, but, for some reason, I can never bring myself to compromise on which ketchup I buy – it has to be Heinz no matter how expensive it is. That, my friends, is definitely brand loyalty.
A brand needs to measure up on a lot of different factors depending on which industry it hails from. If it’s high-end designer, then price isn’t a concern. You want quality and the status that comes with it. It’s more a feel-good effect one’s searching for here. If it’s technology, then the most important trait is durability and for it not be outdated in the next year or so, which, truthfully speaking, it will be because planned obsolescence (*cough* Apple *cough*).
Even though we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, brand identity is the most important factor.
Brand Identity – The outward expression of a brand, including its trademark, name, communications, and visual appearance.
How the brand looks and whether it stands out over an ever-expanding sea of brands is something brands must focus on nowadays. The competition is far too strong with giants holding the power to crush smaller brands. Playing it safe or copying competitors is going to result in a loss. The best way is to take a risk to build a loyal brand following, who will then act like brand ambassadors. I believe that can be achieved by selling emotions, because humans don't buy things; they buy emotions that accompany those things. If the brand has a passion for transforming the space it occupies with remarkable strategies and identities, it will resonate with its customers.
Neumeier, M., 2004. The Dictionary of Brand.