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The Importance of Building A Brand

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brandsBrand is one of the most important parts of a product. Brands can be a value added to a product whether they are in the form of goods or services. For example: If there are two (2) bottles of mineral water filled with the type of mineral water that is equally good in terms of quality and quantity, the mineral water which were given a brand would be considered valuable, better and more qualified than the mineral water that is not.

This additional value is very advantageous for manufacturers or companies. This is the reason why many companies are trying to continue introducing their brands from time to time, especially to their consumers who are the target market.

Brand is the term, sign, symbol, design or a combination where all of these are intended to identify products or services of the company, which distinguishes the products / services with other products, especially products from competitors.

Defining Brand Elements

Some of the criteria that must be considered in defining brand elements:

1. Easy to remember

This means the chosen brand elements should be easy to remember, to be called / spoken. The symbol, logo, name used should be interesting, and unique to attract people to remember and consumed.

2. Has the meaning

The brand element should contain a meaning or explanation / description of the product. This meaning can be expected to influence consumers to consume these products.

Description of the meaning contained can be:

  1. General information on the categories and contents of the product
  2. Important information about the composition of products and how consumers can enjoy the benefits from the product.

3. Interesting and funny

Another approach is to entice consumers with a variety of funny and unique brand elements, by selecting elements that are rich in terms of its visualization and imagination. In this case you’ll enjoy the design that is attractive.

4. Flexible

The brand elements should be understandable and can still be accepted by the regions / markets, even by other cultures. The name that is going to be used should not too difficult to translate. Often, the selections of branding elements are easily remembered by local communities, but it is too difficult to be understood by people from other cultures. This will certainly hamper the manufacturer to enter a new market.

There are several functions of a brand for consumers and companies.

For consumers, a brand will help them to identify a product quality, both in the form of goods or services. Brand will also improve the efficiency of the buyer as it will facilitate the buyers to find the products searched. Additionally, it will help attract the attention of consumers on a new product that may benefit them.

There are several new health products entering the existing saturated market. For example, Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is previously known to be detected during a pregnancy. Recently, after several researches were being done by scientists, this hormone becomes very famous because of its ability to suppress appetite when consumed. The discovery makes a lot of health manufactures produces HCG by branding it into a unique weight loss product. According to authorityfoodnutrition.com, the best HCG diet drops brands are HCG Complex, HCG 1234, and HCG Triumph. The power of creating strong brand elements, make these products enter the market easily and make it to be well recognized by the consumers. A brand will prevent things that are not desired by consumers, both in terms of health risks, the risk of product malfunction, and error rates, or the risk from ineligibility products which are consumed.

On the other hand, from manufacturer side, a brand will facilitate the seller to process orders and track problems that arise. Moreover, it will assist sellers in doing market segmentation and attracting customers/consumers who are loyal and profitable.

From the previous HCG (health product) case perspective, a brand will help identify product excellence, which distinguishes the product with other products, especially the products of rivals.

Companies, both products and services companies, try to increase the strength of its brand in the market from time to time. In this case the manufacturer will strive to introduce the products, by showing the advantages that are not being provided by other products.

The existence of a brand is not merely indicating the name of a product, but more than that. The brand shows the added value of products in various dimensions, which distinguishes the product with other products.

A successful brand building will be formed when the elements of brands advocate to support and provide a positive contribution to the creation of a strong brand in the market. The elements that are meant here is the quality, the ability of products to meet the consumer needs or desires, and the ability of a reliable marketing strategy to continue introducing the brand to the market through all marketing programs.

Thus, by doing all of these strategies, the brands can continue to be known, and consumed by the public (creating consumer loyalty), so that the brand becomes a strong brand in the market.

The Band With No Name

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band-with-no-nameLast week, I went with my wife and a couple of friends to wish another friend “Happy birthday.” We went to a honky-tonk-type bar in a part of town I have never been to before, The atmosphere was relaxed. The dance floor was filled every song with patrons dancing their hearts out to mostly country songs. The food was simple, The drinks were cold. The band was good. While it was not necessarily my type of bar, I can appreciate good music when I hear it. When I asked, “What is the name of these guys?” The only answer I received was, “They don’t have one!.”

Nobody quite knew why they did not have a name. The fact was nobody cared. The music was good to them, and that is all that mattered. I knew why. I thought about it the rest of the night.

Each of the individual members of the band were good musicians. They knew their parts well and enjoyed playing music. They play for the same pay at the same bar every week. So why is it that their band does not have a title, a name, something? The reason is they know who they are. They know what they do. They do not need recognition. They do not need something more. They purely love playing good music to people who will enjoy it week after week.

Would this not making an interesting concept for an organization? No titles, just people who enjoy doing the work and collaborating on the same level. No office politics or drama. No colleagues trying to shoot for a promotion that they do not deserve. No one begging for a fake trophy or recognition. Efforts being given to the team as a whole only. It is an interesting concept.

Below are three interesting and very different organizations with similar philosophies. I have taken an excerpt out of each article on the importance of no job titles to them.

  1. The Nerdery“Our job titles are designed to empower us, not to limit us!” Bucklin wrote. “Put your business card on the desk in front of you…This card does not define you. You are a Co-President. You are bigger than your defined role, and you are much more than your job title. Play your part—transcend your job title, be a hero.”
  2. Valve: Titles specialize employees, and put them in a little plot where they’re allowed to work. Specialization sets employees against each other, carving out little kingdoms of responsibility. Anything outside their kingdom is beyond their purview, and anyone stepping within that kingdom is encroaching upon their pride and their job security.
  3. Sun Hydraulics; How does a company grow to that size with such an organization?  By spending a lot of time hiring the right kind of collaborative idea-generating individual who doesn’t need to be told what to do. 

What is your band? Could this approach work in your organization? Why or why not?

Cadillac is Back at Hero Status

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bob_ferguson_cadillacOn June 14, 2013, Bob Ferguson, Vice President of Global Cadillac, spoke to a large group of industry professionals at the Adcraft Club of Detroit GM Day. Ferguson is clearly focused on the long-term brand strategy to bring Cadillac back. After some neglect and declining market share for more than thirty years, Cadillac recently has had its highest sales spike since 1976.

Ferguson focused his discussion on Cadillac as an epic tales of sorts. The hero is the automobile, with various sections of the story revealing its true character. Ferguson describes it as a tale with three acts.

  1. Act One: Cadillac is described as the hero in its infancy. It is born. It leads. It is iconic. It holds the virtues of the American public. As many know, Act One lasted for many years, from approximately 1902 through 1976.
  2. Act Two: Things were shifting and the hero that is Cadillac was lazily focusing on size and its past status. Cadillac, the hero, slumped. It was caught off guard by its enemies and the new idea of what an iconic car should be.  Act Two lasted a lot less longer than the previous act, from approximately 1976–2012.
  3. Act Three: Cadillac is described simply as redemption. The hero…

Read my entire article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand here: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=17905

Dr. Ahuvia and the Brand Love Phenomenon

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aaronahuviaWhat brands or products do you absolutely love that you cannot live without? Most of the time consumers flock towards things like smartphones, iPods, and the like. Last week the American Marketing Association, Detroit chapter, put on an event entitled ‘Brand Love’ with Aaron Ahuvia, Ph.D. at Schoolcraft College. Dr. Ahuvia is the foremost authority on this topic as he was the first researcher published in this area over twenty years ago.

Ahuvia’s explanation of brand love starts with human evolution. “Humans adapt old capacities to new situations,” Ahuvia said. He went on to say, “Love is powerful.” A perfect way of exhibiting this is through anthropomorphism; this is when people take something that is not human and give it human qualities. An example of this is shown in a video of an iCat robot named Daisy. Studies showed that humans had a very difficult time shutting down the robot. Those studied began to develop an affinity for the robot, and when asked to shut it down, Daisy began asking the person not to. See the video here.

Another way this is exhibited is through the saying we heard so many times in our school days: “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” One woman, Erika La Tour Eiffel, did just that. She married the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Ahuvia found that most people actually do love things other than people. The most common things were nature and engaging activities, but closely behind were products and brands. Take a look at Brand Love Central to see the model he developed from this and other studies. Further research by Ahuvia showed that Brand Love helps create sustainable growth and stability in the marketplace.

Is there a formula for success, a love potion of sorts, for brands? Why yes, there is. In fact, there are four key characteristics of brand love, as follows:

  1. Quality and Trust: A brand must start by making sure its products or services maintain quality. Once quality is achieved, trust will need to be maintained. High standards for quality and trust must be present to foster brand love.
  2. Intrinsic Rewards: “Do you love the product or are you just using it?” asks Ahuvia. There is a difference. Certain products people love, while other times people just love the outcome. Ahuvia explained this to the group through tools. Some people use tools because they love fixing motorcycles, for example, while others find love in not only the fixing of the motorcycles but also in the way the tool works, is designed, and functions.
  3. Part of Myself: In this characteristic, Ahuvia explains a term he developed called ‘Looking Glass Love.’ This is a love where we see our own reflection in things that we love other than people. Apple exploited this type of love perfectly in their Mac v. PC television advertisements. The target market was that of a younger generation of people who saw themselves as the Justin Long type compared to the stodgy PC type. This section of brand love brings the deeper connections of love forward.
  4. Part of My Life: “Absence makes the heart grow indifferent,” says Ahuvia. The longer a consumer does not use a product or service, the easier it is to go on without it. To continue to nurture the love, the brand must be a part of the person’s life.

Brand love speaks more for products than it does services. It is most relevant for categories that provide many benefits, have a pleasure aspect, and relate to identity. How will you foster brand love in your business?

Read the original article on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=17185

Branding the Cambridge Satchel Company: An Exclusive Interview with Founder Julie Deane

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Photo credit: John Phillips/PA

Photo credit: John Phillips/PA

Building an idea from your kitchen table and turning it into a boutique international brand with presences at stores like Bloomingdales is no easy feat. It takes determination, planning, and a little ingenuity. Meet Julie Deane. She was a stay-at-home mom and started the Cambridge Satchel Company to get her daughter into private school to avoid the bullying of her public school classmates. That was five years ago. Since then her business has been growing by leaps and bounds. I sat down with Julie to discuss her business, her brand, and her future.

Don: In the beginning you came up with a list of 10 ideas to raise money to get your daughter into private school. What made you think selling a brand of vintage-inspired satchels would work?

Julie: I had been looking for four or five months before I started the business for satchels because I don’t like this whole throwaway society. The whole approach to not caring or respecting a product because you are going to throw it away bothers me. I really do not like it. My children were going through the stages of wanting a school bag with some sort of motif on it, such as High School Musical. They would like it one year, then the next year they wouldn’t like it so they would want a new bag. The whole way these types of things get labeled gives them a really short shelf life. There is also the aspect that I like things to look clean, tidy, and smart for a long time. School bags today are made out of nylon and they look all scuffed up and are hard to clean, making them grubby looking. I kept thinking about when I was in school having a leather satchel and it looked as good on the last day as it did the first day. It was my school bag for the whole way through. It was not labeling me with trying to tell the world what I liked at the time; it was just a really good bag. I wanted my children to have something like that. They were reading Harry Potter at the time so to connect to them I said “Oh my gosh, Harry Potter. I am telling you that is a boy that would have had a satchel with that Hogwarts school uniform.” That is when they decided that is what they wanted. When I tried to get them a leather satchel they just were not being made at that time in the UK. To me that was such a shame because it is a lovely, clean design. That is why it made the list.

Don: That is wonderful. It sounds like you really just found a niche and focused on your passion.

Julie: Yes. Actually, I grew up in South Wales and lots of people close to us worked in the coal mines. There was a period in UK history where we had Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister and she shut down the mines. So many people lost their jobs and whole villages just became really sad places with houses worth very little. To grow up experiencing something like that gives me a huge love of manufacturing and bringing these manufacturing jobs to the UK. It is especially rewarding being able to meet the people making the bags.

Don: What would you be doing if you had picked something else off your list?

Julie: I know exactly what I would have ended up doing if my family and I still lived in the United States. I am an obsessive gardener and I have a really nice little British-English garden. It gives me a huge amount of enjoyment. When we lived in the U.S., I thought, “So many of these houses do not even have a fence between them and their neighbor. They are not claiming their space or making it their own.” I was always so passionate about how much more beautiful those lovely houses could have been if the outdoor space reflected the people inside the houses. With that in mind I would have had some sort of landscaping type of company in the U.S.

Don: Wow. That is obviously very different than creating satchels, and probably less lucrative.

Julie: I don’t know about that. If you are good enough, you can do more than just dig a border and put in a few plants for people. If you are doing more than just lawn and garden maintenance by creating this wow factor around that house, I think that could be a fantastic business.

Don: That sounds like a testament to the passion you have for your ideas. So, other than getting your daughter into private school, what has been the second most rewarding achievement of starting this business?

Julie: That is a really easy one because without realizing it, one of the best things that’s happened because of this business is from day one my mum has been really involved. She has helped with everything from choosing new colors to packing the bags to helping me take them to the post office. She has been there every single day. Maybe even more important, the thing it has done for her is give her a new lease on life. She is in her seventies now and she has been given opportunities to do things and actually participate in life instead of staying retired, sitting and watching television all day. People go downhill if they do that.

Don: That is great that you are so close with her and let her get that involved in your business.

Julie: About a year ago, my mum and I won the Red Hot Women award for Red magazine. My mum said, “Oh my gosh, I’m a red hot woman and I’m I my seventies. How about that?” We have also been invited to have coffee with Samantha Cameron, spouse of UK Prime Minister David Cameron, at 10 Downing Street. To be able to do something like that with your mum…it is really getting so involved in life, taking a chance and really throwing yourself at it with a passion instead of doing just enough to get by. Those are the moments that make it worthwhile.
Don: That is absolutely amazing. This is definitely an inspiring story. The majority of people would not let their parents get involved so closely in a business like this. It is great to hear that it is still happening.

Julie: Yes, she is brilliant. When people get to a certain age, many would rather not leave the workforce and have an enforced retirement. Some may very well want to take it easy or travel but for my mum that would have been an absolutely awful thing. She is so sociable and brings so much to the company that by shutting her out we would have been much less of a business. We would have been the ones missing out.

Don: That is really wonderful to hear. You have created such a lucrative business based solely upon satchels. Do you see any brand extensions in the future?

Julie: Yes, we have a new shaped bag and an absolutely beautiful clutch bag that we showed for the first time at the shop opening last month and it was very well received. We need to look at interesting ways of getting better yields from the leather we use for the satchels, and with that in mind, smaller leather goods may make a lot of sense. We are proud to have acquired a fantastic new colleague who will join the team very soon as a product developer.

Don: Does your daughter, Emily, show any interest in the family business?

Julie: Actually yes, she is fantastic. She is 13 now; she was 8 when this business started. The thing about Emily is that she knows that this business was set up to help her and she has never forgotten that. Every school holiday she comes to work with me to get involved and help out. She is amazing. She can answer customer service email, she will help out with the mailings, she can do inspections and many other things because she’s been involved since the very start. I do not think there is anybody that I have met outside of my mum who can take a satchel and look at it with such a critical eye and within seconds say if there is a fault or any sort of flaw in it.

Don: It sounds like your daughter is very grounded and shares a lot of the same traits as you and your mother do.

Julie: Emily has the best elements of everybody in our family. She has my husband’s patience, my love of the business and analytical way of looking at it, and she has my mum’s good nature. She has been blessed with the best traits. Then we have my son Max and if there is anybody who was born to be in PR and brand representation, it is him. He could sell a satchel to anybody. We did a thank-you tea party for the bloggers last February in New York at Alice’s Tea Cup. As I was saying goodbye to somebody outside my little boy came out with his little suit on and said to me, “I’ve sold 5 bags to the bloggers, is that sort of where you were pitching it or should I get back in there?” [laughs] I said, “No, it was supposed to be a thank-you tea party, you weren’t supposed to be in there selling bags.”

Don: That is very cute. So with that, where do you see yourself and the business in the next five years?

Julie: Google decided to make us the face of Google Chrome for the UK and Europe and because of that I get an enormous amount of email from all sorts of people. Most of them want to start their own business and ask me for advice on certain ideas. I also go to quite a few schools speaking to those with an interest in starting a business and answering their questions. I really like being involved with that and doing that kind of thing. I think the big challenge for Cambridge Satchel Company is to continue to build a team with really strong skills. When you grow a new business so quickly it is very hard to maintain a team with a strong framework to keep pace with your growth. It is trying to grow the business while still keeping the culture that we have.

Don: Now you said they made you the face of Google Chrome for the UK and Europe. How did that come about?

Julie: Google heard the story of how I started the business with just £600 (roughly USD 906), never having borrowed or having investors. It was simply based on my story of me doing everything from the kitchen table on the computer. It was all done from home from finding manufacturing, contacting bloggers, getting photos up on the website, and everything else. It shows what can be done online. They really liked the story and it fits in well with their slogan, the web is what you make of it. Today, it has over 4.7 million hits on YouTube with just six months in, so it has done really well. This is fairly new. It was only in September 2012 they launched the video. Our U.S. website launched a couple of weeks ago. We’re just about to move into a new factory as well so it all seems to be happening at the moment.

Don: Keep up the momentum! What advice would you give to other stay-at-home-moms (and dads) with an entrepreneurial spirit who are thinking of starting a new brand or business?

Julie: I don’t care what anybody says, it has never been easier to start a business than it is right now. Mainly because of the Internet and so many free resources available. Most people nowadays, even if they do not have Internet access in their homes can get it through a community center or local resource. It is accessible, so there is really no excuse. Stop reading the books. People need a deadline of some kind. For me it was the deadline of the school summer holiday so I needed to do it quickly. The key is to stop waiting until you think you have time and just get on with it.

From its founding at Julie Deane’s kitchen table in 2008 to the multi-million-pound business it is today, the Cambridge Satchel Company is still the same company that bloggers and fashionistas originally fell in love with. Julie has stayed amazingly grounded after the numerous awards and press. That is what makes her brand so amazing. She puts her whole self into the company and produces a good, honest product. Julie Deane leaves us with this great thought that challenges us to get up and start moving with our ideas: We will never have enough time. And what exactly is enough time? Julie started her business in the time her daughter was off from school in the summer — talk about motivation!

Read my entire interview on Talent Zoo at: http://www.talentzoo.com/news/Branding-the-Cambridge-Satchel-Company-An-Exclusive-Interview-with-Founder-Julie-Deane/17134.html 

Brand Extensions Gone Wrong

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zippo-fragrance-adBrand extensions can make sense. In many cases, brands emerge stronger because of it. When Tide laundry detergent developed the Tide To Go instant stain remover pen, it was a great move. According to Nielsen, brand extensions are five times more successful than new launches in some countries. This is true with one caveat — when done right.

“Done right” sounds like an easy statement but it is far from the truth. Some brands fail miserably when it comes to extensions because the extension simply does not make sense. It leaves consumers asking “Why?” Here are two examples describing poor brand extensions that left consumers confused:

Failure Numero Uno: Bic Underwear
Bic is known for its disposable pens, its disposable razors, and its disposable cigarette lighters. The Bic brand thought they were large enough to go into other categories as well, so why not Bic underwear? That’s right. They created a line of women’s disposable pantyhose. They did not even want to change the brand name. Consumers did not understand, production and entrance to market costs were high, and in the end it flopped. Other than disposability there was no link between the products. Brand extensions should make sense and be a logical step from the flagship product. This made absolutely no sense, leaving consumers asking, “What were they thinking?”

Failure Numero Dos: Zippo’s Women’s Perfume
The scent is called fruity, but it sprays directly out of a bottle with a flip top that very closely resembles a Zippo lighter. In the market it brings up thoughts of smelling like a smoker or lighter fluid. It could be a decent-smelling perfume, but perception is everything. The key here again is that it is not a logical extension, bringing us to our favorite question — what were they thinking?

So now you may want to know what makes a great brand extension. Here are a few simple key things to keep in mind:

  1. Know your market. It sounds simple but it is not. No company can be all things to all people. Look at what markets you are currently reaching and what their buying habits are. Once you review this it will help steer you in the right direction for a brand extension.
  2. Make it logical. Just because something sounds like a foolproof plan does not mean it fits your brand. Knowing your market will allow you to see which directions are logical for your brand and which are not. It may be determined that there are a number of areas for growth. So how do you determine which area to tackle first? This brings us to part three.
  3. Do your homework. Extending your brand into other categories requires research to do it right. It may seem logical to you from the start, but it pays to make sure your customers think so. Focus groups and the like can be used at this stage. Spending a little extra on research and time at the beginning can save your brand a lot of headaches in the future. You also want to make sure the brand is not simply going into the market because the new director wanted to put his or her own mark on the industry. The data returned at this stage will not lie.

Brand extensions must be planned carefully with proper knowledge of the market and research behind it. Focusing on an extension or change to a popular brand can, at times, bring on devastation and leave consumers disillusioned. After all, you wouldn’t want to pull a New Coke, would you?

Article originally published on the Talent Zoo blog Beneath the Brand at: http://www.talentzoo.com/beneath-the-brand/blog_news.php?articleID=16856