Monday, January 13, 2014

Why So Many Companies Get Branding Wrong

A brand is the only corporate asset that, managed properly, will never depreciate. Think about it: patents expire, software ages, buildings crumble, roofs leak and machines break.  But a well-managed brand can increase in value year after year.
Despite this unique characteristic, brand is often misunderstood. It seems soft and fuzzy. It's often incorrectly defined. And, at least historically, it hasn't been a hard, measurable metric like sales, market share, stock price or price/earnings ratio that can be tracked on a spreadsheet or reported to the board. But neglecting a brand is both naïve and shortsighted.
In some ways branding is a victim of semantics. Call it "reputation" and nobody would ever argue that it's anything less that critical. All companies are careful to avoid doing anything that would harm their reputations.  But management teams commonly underachieve in the application of reputation management best a word, branding.
Too many business leaders believe branding is a discipline that lives in the marketing department. But it's much broader than that. Branding includes everything a company does, from the logo, to the way it handles customer complaints, to whether personnel keep their shirts tucked in. It's easy to limit perspective of branding to the verbal and visual expressions a company puts into the marketplace, but there isn't anything that anybody within an organization does (or fails to do) that doesn't affect how your company is perceived.
Effective branding improves the visibility of and respect for a product, service or company. It attracts attention and drives sales. It also enhances margins, as customers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies they know and trust.
It's easy to think about branding just in terms of the latest-and-greatest social media platform, viral video or smartphone app. Doing so means missing the fundamental principles of the discipline that go well beyond the trendy and transient. It's not like mathematics, engineering or accounting, in which there are rules or regulations to be followed. Instead, there are a significant number of commonsense, sometimes counterintuitive truths based on how real humans interact in the real world that can make a significant impact on any business.
Resource: Steve McKee

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To share common sense lessons learned with 40-plus years experience in marketing, sales and as a B2B publisher.