When it come to the largest business in the world, they rarely talk about marketing and advertising directly, usually they talk about brand building, brand marketing, brand advertising. This is because they recognise that the real value of their business lies within the perceived value of the brand they own.
Look at Virgin, their business is massively multifaceted, with a very wide mix of products and services across multiple market sectors, and if they wanted to they could add almost anything to their existing mix of businesses and that business would automatically have an advantage over other players within the sector, provided the new product or service matched the Virgin brand image. And, that is the key, Virgin has a brand image that instantly builds trust in the mind of the customer. Richard Branson worked tirelessly on building the image of the brand over multiple decades to the point where it is now is a multi-billion dollar global business.
Many people thing that a brand is the logo the company has or the advertising the company does, but in reality the brand is neither of these. A brand is a set of values and beliefs that the target audience has associated with the company or individual. Once those values and believes become aligned across the entire market then the brand generates a momentum of its own and that momentum can be extremely difficult to shift. This can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the perception and the market.
Take for example the nationwide furniture store in the UK that was a popular provider of low costs, flat-packed furniture, MFI. They seemed like they were unstoppable for many years, despite the fact that their furniture was not the best quality and the flat-packed items were notoriously hard to put together. Then two things happened to change their brand image. Firstly Ikea opened in the UK and shifted the buying criteria of the market and secondly an acronym for MFI started to spread around, calling the company “Mucky Furniture Incorporated”. MFI tried to stem this image, creating the tag line ‘More Furniture Ideas’ but the brand image had been irreparably damaged and within a few years the company went out of business.
So it is not only important to create a brand, it is also vital to maintain the brand your business has.
This means that brand design starts long before the creation of a logo or a new letter head, it drives back to the creation of a whole set of values and beliefs about your business and what you stand for. Only when you know what image you want to project can you go about creating it.
The biggest most successful businesses don’t do brand building because they are big, they are big because of the brand they have built.
So know the brand image you want to project in your market place and then work to ensure your business image and practices match it.