Ready, Launch, Brand: The Lean Marketing Guide for Startups
Orly Zeewy - Zeewy Brands

Zeewy Brands


Marketing Does Not Make a Brand

“You have to know who you are before you can convince anyone of it.”

That is some of the advice given in “Three Questions You Need to Ask About Your Brand,” by Kevin Lane Keller, Brian Sternthal, and Alice Tybout.

Do you know what your company stands for? Can you communicate the intrinsic value it offers to your customers? In other words, do you know your brand? If you don’t, chances are the disconnect translates into lost revenue and a weak brand.

Imagine building a house without a blueprint. Now imagine creating a sales brochure when you don’t understand what your company stands for or how its products differ from the competition. The result can be thousands of brochures that will never be used by your sales people. Your customers need to care about your brand and be able to quickly make informed buying decisions. If understanding your product becomes too difficult or time consuming, customers will go elsewhere.

As consultant Alina Wheeler says, “The brand is the nucleus of sales and marketing activities.” And in today’s global economy, a business has to establish its brand quickly in order to succeed.

Walter Landor, president of Landor Associates, a San Francisco-based global brand consulting firm, puts it simply: “Products are created in the factory. Brands are created in the mind.” Whenever a customer comes in contact with your brand (logo, Web site, brochure, advertising, etc.) he or she forms an opinion about your company and if you don’t define your brand, your customer will. Do you really want your customers defining you?

One of the leading misconceptions that companies have about their products is that what they care about is also what their customers will care about. This type of tunnel vision can lead to expensive marketing mistakes. An example from “Three Questions,” when drug companies first started promoting analgesics they spent a lot of money talking to consumers about how long aspirin’s pain relief lasted. Turns out that what consumers really cared about was how quickly it got rid of the pain.

Do you know what your customers care about in your industry? Are you spending a lot of money on marketing that gets overlooked or, even worse, misunderstood? Remember that everything your customers read, touch and experience can either strengthen or weaken your brand. Confusing messaging tells consumers that you don’t understand who you are and that can quickly translate into a loss of brand loyalty.

How do you convince a customer to buy your products or services when you don’t know what you’re selling? The answer is simple. You can’t.

Being the cheapest or the coolest is not a differentiator that lasts. It will only invite your competition to beat you at your own game.

“Only one competitor can be the cheapest. The others have to use branding. The stronger the brand, the greater the profit margin,” according to Martin Neumeier’s “The Brand Gap.” It takes time to define your brand but the results are worth it. Invest in your brand. Define your company’s vision, business goals and objectives, and competitive advantages — your brand. Create a memorable and sustainable brand identity — make your brand visible. Build brand awareness — increase how many of your ideal customers know who you are. Build brand equity — so that your customers know why your brand is worth paying more for. In other words, become a power brand.

David Aacker, a recognized authority on brands and the author of “Building Strong Brands,” describes the battle for the minds of consumers as a shelf that lives in the minds of those consumers. That shelf only has room for a handful of power brands and the competition is fierce. But here’s the upside: Once you’re there, it becomes nearly impossible to fall off. Brand loyalty is so ingrained in consumers’ minds that switching takes more money than most companies can afford to spend.

Keep this in mind: The average adult is exposed to nearly 3,000 messages a day and corporations globally spend over $620 billion each year to make their products seem desirable and to get us to buy them. Before you spend more money on marketing, ask yourself if you’ve invested enough in your brand. The answer may surprise you.