The list of reasons the word “branding” arises so often in today’s business conversations is long and growing. With more new businesses and products than ever before, and with a competitive arena that, thanks to the Internet, now stretches all the way around the world, brands are more necessary than they’ve ever been before. Here are a few of the reasons why:
Brands unlock profitability. Today’s marketplace is full of more products than ever before, and, overwhelmed by the selection, people choose and pay premium prices only for products they’ve heard of, trust, and believe deliver higher value than the others. If consumers think all products in a category are virtually the same and no offering is better or distinctly different from the others, they simply grab whichever one is available at the lowest price. That’s a profit-squeezing reality that brand marketers avoid.
Brands prompt consumer selection. For the first time in shopping history, consumers can shop and buy without any geographic limitation. The Internet and other at-home shopping options allow far-reaching access to any product, anywhere. With a few clicks, consumers find and select products with names they know and promises they trust. In this boundless marketplace, brands rule and no-name products barely survive.
Brands build name awareness. For good reason, new businesses and products increasingly go by invented names instead of by known words. For one thing, more than three million U.S. trademarks are already registered, so any marketer who wants to protect a new name practically needs to create a never-before seen word in order to succeed. For another, 99 percent of all words in the English dictionary are already reserved as Internet addresses and are therefore unavailable to new marketers. As a result, most new offerings are launched under invented names, and invented names require strong and diligent branding in order to achieve consumer awareness, recall, and meaning.
Brands increase the odds of business survival. New businesses and new products are being launched at an unprecedented pace. According to the UPC Database, nearly 100,000 new bar-coded products were introduced in 2009 alone. Only those that ride into the market on the strength of an established brand or those that are capable of building a brand name in a hurry can seize consumer awareness, understanding, and preference fast enough to survive.
Brands have been around for centuries. But they’ve never been more important – or more essential to business success – than they are today.
Seeing the Big Branding Picture
Your brand is an image that makes its way into consumers’ minds to influence how they think and buy. It’s based on the promise people believe about you and the reputation they link with your name as the result of all the times and ways they’ve come into contact with you, your name, your logo, or any aspect of your brand.