The World of Branding Never Stops – Ongoing Education is Required For Success

For those that wish to succeed in the branding and marketing business at any level, whether it is a small business chain or extremely large Corporation with outlets and sales in hundreds of countries – it is imperative to never stop thinking about your relationship and brand in the eyes of your customers. Perhaps it is for this reason that I attempt to read at least one branding and marketing book each and every month, and I have for years.

Some are good and some are not so good, and occasionally you read a great one. Nevertheless, you will always learn something in each and every one – a different insight from a different perspective from a different author. Many of these authors have decades of experience behind them in various industries, and it is wise to borrow their knowledge and apply it to other industries, even your own. One book I’d like to recommend to you about branding is;

“Married to the Brand – Why Consumers Bond With Some Brands for Life,” William J. McEwen, Gallup Press, Princeton, NJ, 2005. (135 pp) ISBN: 1-59562-005-2.

This book has hundreds of examples of great companies, great branding, and success stories – for instance, the greatest wine company in the world by Earnest and Julio Gallo. Speaking of which, I am not sure who is doing their current branding and marketing, but they are on fire and accelerating the value of that brand, perhaps they read this book as I have. I am especially impressed with their work in the Spanish Gallo Wine division and the other Spanish wines. Amazing how well branding works when it is practiced by the best in the business.

The author of “Married to the Brand” made examples of Southwest Airlines, Nike, DW, FedEx, Disney, Nordstrom, Singapore Airlines, Guinness beer, Ritz-Carlton MasterCard, Intel, British Petroleum, Apple Computers, Starbucks, Wal-Mart Morton Salt, Gallo, and even their own branded Gallup Polls. In fact, this book is filled with statistics as well as discussing the reality of “loyalty programs” and how well they actually work, or don’t. William makes light of the fact that there is a need for personal connection and that will determine how the consumers marry brands and make it part of their personal identity.

There were some very interesting statistics that most entrepreneurs would be interested in for instance 58% of the population believes that all banks are the same, 45% of the population believes that all airlines are the same, and 54% believe that all website marketers online are the same. There is a need for these companies to trigger an emotional attachment. Once they do that it behooves them to concentrate on a justification for the purchaser – in other words, first, they must concentrate on what the customer wants, and then what the customer needs allowing them justification for themselves, family, and friends.

One of the main rationales behind this book was customers need to be treated as if they are on first dates, and then work on building a relationship, and then prepare for the marriage – in that regard I would say the title of the book says it all. Branding is something that is pervasive in our everyday lives and the average grocery store has between 40,000 to 50,000 branded items on its shelves. Even the unknown name brands actually have a brand, such as; plain wrap, special store brand, no-frills brand.

Companies must make good on their brand promise and then provide a connection with the customer opening up the door for the brand experience and in engaging the customer in a brand relationship. It doesn’t matter if it is a normal brand such as a Ford Trucks, or a prestige brand like Rolls Royce Luxury Automobiles. There are many different categories for brands such as membership brands, personal identity brands, memory triggering brands, and self completion brands, as in “I have arrived,” by displaying the product, or using a service.

Trust in a brand and the promise of the brand is the key, which leads to respect of the brand. All these things are as important in branding as they are in a marriage. It is not just the car but also the dealership in service too. It takes people power, positive employee attitudes to build a brand. Positive experiences even when customers return items, employees must show gratitude and enthusiasm.

The author also cites another very good branding book; “Loyalty Rules,” by Fred Reicheld, who states that 5% of your brand loyalists will create between 25 and 95% of your profits if you do it right. I’d say this is not only true in the coffee business but also even in a service business like a car wash.

The authors also bring up the Brand pyramid, where the foundation is based on confidence and integrity, and then it is followed up by employee pride, and finally consumer passion. Williams suggests that without the foundation passion by the consumer it is not possible, and you can’t live without it in your company. Passion can be found in the most interesting places, for instance in India 31% of the buyers have a passion for a particular brand of food. Indeed, it can be as simple as that.

This book also explains how to go about engaging customers and how to survive on trust, and lastly he explains the problem with diluting of brands, and sub brands like General Motors. Indicating that it is possible to pull it off, but it’s not easy as it confuses the belief system and passion of the consumer. I think I’d recommend buying this book to anyone, and it also comes with a free password for Gallup Management Journal for six months online, which is probably worth as much as the book itself. I hope you will please consider all this.

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