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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Branding Is A Red Herring

Bob Searling on being interviewed by Dan Lok said,

"Too many companies think because they have a product or service, they should dictate to the customer how it should be used or what goals it should satisfy or problems it should solve.

I'm here to tell your listeners that that's just not true—your customers dictate those issues. Your customers are the voters, and the way your customers vote
is with their wallets, either by buying or not buying your product or service."

(extracted from How to Create a Million Dollar
Marketing Strategy for any Product or Service)

Both Bob Serling and Dan Lok are world class copywriters and if you can afford them talking to them is money very well spent!

The reason I extracted that piece from  a report I'm re-reading is that it fits the comments I make about branding.

I believe that companies often brand or re-brand themselves to attract more customers or keep the current ones.

This is a red herring.

Better customer service. more focus on the customer and better quality should come first. And anyone who says they already have all those things in place is fooling themselves.

So if I re-phrase Bob's quote  to fit my own thoughts on branding you'll see exactly what I mean:

"Too many companies think because they have gone through and branded or re-branded themselves that a customer should use their product or service because of its brand identity.   

I'm here to tell you, my loyal blog reader, that that's just not true—your customers dictate how they use or even perceive branding.

Your customers are the voters, and the way your customers vote is with their wallets, either by buying or not buying your product or service.
Regardless of how well you're branded."

Two examples might help...

IBM and Their New Operating System

Originally IBM probably had one of the most recognisable brands in the PC world. Arguably they could be credited with starting the PC market as we know it today.

 They created a new operating system for their PCs called OS/2. Did it destroy Microsoft's Windows operating system?

Obviously we know it didn't, so branding didn't help them dominate the PC operating system market.

FED-EX The Ultimate Overnight Service

We all know that Fred Smith created Fed-Ex with the then unusual concept of promising next day delivery. They built an enormous and recognisable brand.

Yet there are plenty of other large courier firms like UPS competing with them. 

Is Branding A Waste Of Time?

The short answer is no!

It becomes a resource drain when  considerable management focus and company money is put into branding or re-branding to the detriment of improving customer service, product quality or, perish the thought, training your people. So the message is:

 don't let your brand get in the way of your customers doing business with you.

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