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Building a Brand Through Strong Marketing.

“A great brand raises the bar — it adds a greater sense of purpose to the experience, whether it’s the challenge to do your best in sports and fitness, or the affirmation that the cup of coffee you’re drinking really matters.”

Howard Schultz
President, CEO and Chairman
Starbucks

What Is Branding and why is it important to Marketing?

Branding is the process of creating a recognizable identity for a specific product, service, business, or organization. Branding creates an instant association between the Brand and the wants of the consumer. For example, my mother never asked us if we wanted a cola or a soda. She always asked us if we wanted a Coke. Even to this day, if I go to a restaurant, I always order a Coke and proceed to get internally annoyed if I’m told that they have some other brand of cola. I don’t really care who manufactures the drink since all I really care about is getting the drink. In my mind, Coke is cola and this is in large part due to the successful branding efforts of the Coca-Cola Corporation (with a little help from my mother).

Why is this important? As of the end of 2007, Coke and Pepsi (the second leading brander of cola products) combined to own around 73% of the US cola market, with approximately 42% of the Market going to Coke. In other words, the great marketing efforts of these two corporations have led most of us (at least 73% of us) to believe that there are only two soft drink choices; Coke or Pepsi. We see their commercials then we choose a brand loyalty and three-fourths of this country sticks to that loyalty. What if there is some other great soda? What if “Kick-Ass Cola” really is the best, kick-ass cola? Almost none of us would know it since they haven’t developed a brand for themselves.

When you have a cold, do you ask for a tissue or a Kleenex? Branding has persuaded over half of the US population to ask for a Kleenex. For those of us old enough to remember, there was a time when nobody went to the copying room, they went to the Xerox room. In 1970, Xerox controlled over 95% of the copier market. However, complacency led to a failure to continually promote the brand and the door opened up for many others. In 2007, Xerox serviced only 8.7% of the copier market, making them the sixth largest copier manufacturer. This teaches us two lessons. First, if you’re on top, you need to always work hard to stay there. Memories fade and new generations are open to new ideas. Second, hard work will get you to the top eventually. In 1970, Canon’s copier industry market share barely registered. However, in 2007, Canon was by far the world’s leading copier manufacturer with 21.6% of the market. This doesn’t make them a monopoly but it does ensure that consumers feel confident when they decide to purchase a Canon copier.

How do I create a brand?

Great marketing is the building block for great Branding. In today’s electronic age, given the easy accessibility of information, branding can be easily achieved… but not without an entire new set of challenges. There are basic questions that you need to answer and from there a strong marketing plan will lead to a fantastic brand. So lets start attaching a great brand to your great organization.

Who is your market and how do you reach them?

Knowing your market is the key to any successful marketing plan, but the information has even greater meaning when creating a brand. For example, lets assume that your target audience are people 65 years or older. For marketing purposes, we know that on-line marketing is going to be less effective. Many people over 65 don’t feel comfortable using the Internet or email, they don’t like the Internet and email, and they don’t trust giving out information over the Internet or through email. For the short-term, the Return-on-Investment (ROI) for Internet marketing will be less than satisfactory.

However, we know that individuals between 45 and 59 love the Internet. They shop on the Internet, they find romance on the Internet, and they associate credibility with the Internet (think about how many times have you been talking to a potential new sale and they ask if you have a website). I mean, even our President, 48 year-old Barack Obama, has stated that he’s dependent on his Blackberry. (Again, note that he doesn’t say PDA or Smart Phone, President Obama refers to the “Blackberry” brand). This tells us two things about our long-term branding plan. First, there isn’t currently very much competition on the Internet. Second, in a few years, the Internet is going to be an invaluable tool to market to this demographic. In other words, start your online marketing now.

Does this mean I should do nothing but build an Internet presence and wait for a decade to pass?

Not unless you want to go under before this age group matures. Obviously you need to thrive now. The more revenue you generate today directly relates to your ability to grow over the next several years. You have great ways to market right now and you need to take advantage of those methodologies. For example, a large segment of the 65 and over group is retired or semi-retired. This tends to tell me that they’re home often and they most likely watch television or listen to the radio during the day. This also means that they are often around to receive phone calls and have the time to pay more attention to their mail.

For this age group, marketing with a Predictive Dialer or Voice Broadcasting system will generate a high response rate. The target audience is home often and available to take the calls. One common complaint about telecommunication marketing is that the recipient is reached during an inconvenient time. For working people, this usually means between 6pm and 8pm. They just got home for work, need to eat dinner, and make sure the kids do their homework. However, retired people have quite a bit of free time during the day are unlikely to object to receiving a phone call. Another strong marketing method would be Direct Mail as this demographic usually pays close attention to their mail. For certain clients, I would also recommend electronic media advertising.

How do I build a great marketing plan and a great brand?

A great marketing plan leads is the first step to building a great brand. Always take into consideration, both your short-term and your long-term goals. Great marketing will generate business today and begin to build business for the future. I generally suggest that clients develop marketing plans for several different time intervals. This is the best way to experience success today and build new heights for tomorrow.

It’s also to diversify your marketing efforts. What works today may not work tomorrow. Being dependent on one source of marketing is too risk and doesn’t lead to great brand building. The more places and the more ways people notice a brand will create a stronger association with that brand. Also the implementation of great Graphics, Logos, Slogans, and Websites are invaluable tools.

The principals used in this paper could be applied to any demographic or organization. The most important thing when developing a marketing strategy is to know your target demographic and cater to that demographic. The most important thing to remember when developing a brand is that brands usually don’t appear overnight. They take time to establish. Repeatedly seeing or hearing about a brand and doing so for many years, are irreplaceable aspects of brand building. Marketing alone may lead to success today, but marketing along with brand building will lead to success today and dominance tomorrow.

Building a dynamic and powerful brand can be challenging but creating a direct marketing brand is well worth the effort. A power brand can do wonders for your business and sustain it for generations to come.

Sandeep Ghosh is the Vice President of Publication at SOCHH.

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