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Do You Really Need A Brand?

storefront-without-sign.jpgFrom time to time, someone will ask me whether they really need to worry about branding their company. It’s usually asked by the leader of a B2B enterprise that markets to a select few customers and where the sales relationships are one-to-one, very personal. If I’m basically selling to my golfing buddies, goes the reasoning, why do I need to spend money on a logo or a website or whatever? Well, that may be true but improving sales is not the only advantage to having a brand. In fact, there are eight economic advantages to developing a strong brand. See link at the end of this article.

A variation on the question is: Do I really need a personal brand? The reasoning here is: The people I work with know who I am so why should I have to formalize it in any way? But personal branding, as a deliberate activity, sprang from the need to be noticed in the first place. It is difficult to gain recognition in a working world where people have been commoditized. Bankers, lawyers, accountants, carpenters, nurses – anybody – seem interchangeable on the surface. It’s not till you get to know people that you appreciate their strengths and weaknesses. I wrote about a perfect example of personal branding in A Brand Of One. Again, there’s a link at the end of this article.

But how to answer the original question? The best way to determine if you really need a brand is to first review what, exactly, is even able to be branded.

Ordinarily, in my blog posts, I write about how to brand businesses. But that’s just a convenience to avoid having to insert long lists of other brand-able things, rendering the posts way too long and unreadable. The same techniques used to brand a business are used to brand other entities. A few are listed here.

Generic product.jpgEveryone who has ever walked the aisles of a grocery store is familiar with branded products. Products require differentiation in the perceived value they offer and in their visual appearance. They need to get noticed on the shelves.

It may not be as obvious, but services need brand positioning too. Healthcare, tax preparation, litigation and many other services appear as commodities to the uninitiated. The new customer needs a way to assign comparative value to these kinds of offerings. Branding is the way to do that.

Places can also be branded, especially if the place has some appeal as a destination. Brand strategy drives tourism, business investment, relocation and population growth. Brand appeal is what compels someone to visit one place over another.

Upcoming events like sports tournaments and music festivals can set up enormous expectations. Those expectations require management through a well-planned brand strategy. Branding can be seen as the act of matching the presentation of an offering to the expectations of its market.

Public initiatives like water-conservation campaigns, anti-drug messaging, etc., all need to make real connections to their respective markets. Without a brand identity of meaning to their target audience, they’ll never be able to spur anyone to action.

Even relatively short-term projects can find value in branding. A large-scale construction project, for example, may be expected to cause unwanted disruption in its surrounding area. It can be branded so as to facilitate communication with the affected population and to persuade them of the projects’ ultimate worth.

All the items listed above have one characteristic in common. Have you noticed? They all have to be marketed. That’s the litmus test. Anything that needs to be marketed can benefit from having a well-planned brand strategy. So, if you feel compelled to market your business, your product, your service, your place, your event, your initiative, your project – or yourself – you’d better work out your brand positioning, your key messaging and your communications strategy. You need a brand.

Read about the economic advantages of branding in The Eight Benefits Of Branding.

Read about personal branding in A Brand Of One.

Best Branding Reads – Week of January 16, 2017

8 Things T-Mobile CEO John Legere Thinks Will Happen in 2017
John Legere sure is brave to try to predict anything that may happen this year!

With sale to Canadian firm, American Apparel will be American no longer
Brandicide! American Apparel didn’t have to die. Shame on management and the board!

Mars buys VCA veterinary chain
Mars (The candy company!) buys a chain of veterinarian hospitals. Strange bedfellows.

What The Best Brands Will Do In 2017
A long read but worth it. Save it for the weekend. Then initiate your own 2017 moves on Monday.

It’s Not Just Altaba. Here Are the 7 Worst Company Name Changes

I have no trouble with Alphabet, but the other six are either terrible or dishonest.

LA Chargers not-New Logo
20+ years with no pro football team. Now LA suddenly has two. The Rams had an awful year and the Chargers fumble their logo on the first play.

Why MFA’s Are Better Marketers Than MBA’s
Thank you, Branding Strategy Insider, for lifting the inferiority complex off us MFA marketers!

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