Tips and tricks for business success and growth
By Rama Beerfas
July 1, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Establishing a business, getting the word out, becoming a recognizable entity in the community/area/region/nation/world - that's how a business becomes successful. In a word - branding.
How exactly, though, do you define a "brand"?
Dictionary.com defines brand as:
"noun 1. kind, grade, or make, as indicated by a stamp, trademark, or the like: the best brand of coffee. 2. a mark made by burning or otherwise, to indicate kind, grade, make, ownership, etc. 3. a mark formerly put upon criminals with a hot iron. 4. any mark of disgrace; stigma. 5. branding iron.
verb (used with object) 1. to label or mark with or as if with a brand. 2. to mark with disgrace or infamy; stigmatize. 3. to impress indelibly: The plane crash was branded on her mind. 4. to give a brand name to: branded merchandise. 5. to promote as a brand name."
Did you notice that the noun "brand" has definitions that are negative as well as positive?
The fact is that a brand image can be initiated, influenced and manipulated by the marketing gurus behind that brand, but the ultimate decision-maker on what a brand is, is the public - customers and non-customers alike. No matter what a brand claims to be, the reality is that, what that business' customers actual and/or perceived experiences are is what the brand image will become.
For example, Starbucks has begun implementing wine and beer service in some of its locations to try to capture the after-work crowd. How do you think that's fitting in with the Starbucks branded image? Do you think that most people think of Starbucks as their go-to place for a relaxing happy hour after work? Well, I don't know how it's working for them, but my informal survey on Facebook last month indicated that people not only didn't have Starbucks top-of-mind for a relaxing glass of wine after dinner, but they didn't want their coffee-place being converted into something else entirely. It seems that the branded image isn't jiving too well with this new venture, at least in the eyes of the people I've spoken with.
Want to know how people perceive your brand? Ask them:
- What are the first three words they think of in relation to your brand?
- How does your brand make them feel?
- What do they think you do/sell?
Now that you know, is your brand image what you think it is? Are you happy with how it is seen by your customers and prospects; or, do you need to rethink how you perceive or present your brand?
Rama Beerfas is Chief Solutions Specialist for San Diego-based Lev Promotions, offering marketing consulting, promotional products, trade show displays and training, and more. Rama also offers seminars and training in marketing and customer service related topics. She can be reached at (619) 697-2045 or at email@example.com or visit www.levpromotions.com. Column requests and comments are welcome.