Thursday, December 4, 2008

Four pillars of brand building.

The first question that an emerging business needs to ask is: "What makes our brand stand apart?" Examples of muddy car brand identities; how can you tell the difference between GM’s Oldsmobile and Buick? Ford has struggled for years with the question: "What’s a Mercury?" According to a recent study, Coca-Cola and Disney still maintain their differentiation, while Greyhound and Kodak do not. The winners have been adept at innovating what their products are about, identifying and attaching new attributes to their image.

To make your brand look multidimensional and your competitors look uni-dimensional, you need to know what it takes to be successful in your market space and the key product attributes that differentiate you from others. Once you know that, tell that story over and over again. Change the rules of the game over and over again. Act like the leader, but don’t try to do what larger companies do with less money or you’ll risk looking like a cheap also-ran.

The second pillar of building brand equity is establishing brand relevance. Customers are always subconsciously asking, "Does this brand speak to me?" This is the so-called personal appropriateness of the brand. People can be extremely aware of what a brand stands for without being personally interested in making the brand a part of their life. Think of Ferrari and Victoria's Secret as examples.

The third pillar is brand esteem, which is a measure of how highly consumers regard the brand. This is closely related to perceived feelings of popularity or highly perceived quality. Global brands with the highest esteem ratings due to their perceived quality include Hallmark and Lexus.

The fourth pillar, brand knowledge, is the consumer's understanding of the brand's inner workings. High brand knowledge suggests acute customer intimacy or proof that consumers are experienced with how your product or service works for them – for better and for worse. This is the culmination of any branding effort.

BankDirect, initially a creation of New Zealand’s ASB Bank, wanted to be first in the market with a “no branch” virtual bank concept (branchless banking using call centers and Internet technology) and so reap first mover advantage. Initial research had identified a key target consumer group who knew what direct banking was all about and would likely be early adopters. They were busy people who valued their time and had high account balances. They were computer confident and likely to meet the minimum computer system requirements. They knew that a branchless bank should have lower fees and mortgage rates and higher deposit rates (the cost of an Internet transaction is a few cents versus over a dollar for the average transaction cost with a bank teller).

So BankDirect was designed for these consumers, and not for business clients. BankDirect’s name was a key element in branding the new product because the company didn’t have to explain what the business did. Since its target customers understood the concept of a branchless bank, advertising didn’t have to spell out all its advantages. As a direct marketing operation, a high percentage of the budget was allocated to advertising, which was designed to appeal to the early adopters and make the phones ring. After six months in operation, BankDirect had enough of a database to begin to see trends (for example, most of their customers didn’t come from ASB but from outside the bank).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Too bad Yahoo didnt read this years ago.