Branding means so many things to so many different groups of people. Depending on who you ask, answers could include words like "logo," "tagline," "market presence," "why," "unique selling proposition," "differentiation," and many, many more. But as the holiday rush to your store of choice descends upon us all, perhaps the easiest way of thinking about brand is: How much does something cost?
I was reminded of this simple thought the other day when one of our clients sold a scarf for, well, let's just say a lot more than I would ever pay for a scarf. And this is no anomaly for this client, either. They're successful, they're growing, and the brand is at the venture capital table as we speak.
Two years ago, the brand didn't even exist. Like a lot of our clients, they came to us with an idea and needed some help with the rest. This is our favorite, situations like these – starting from scratch, blue skies. But also, this is also the most critical, sleepless-nights-difficult part of the process as well. Because if we're going by the definition of brand that we outlined earlier, the whole ballgame is: How much should people want to pay for your brand's output?
And that takes months and months -- years, actually -- of careful planning and hard work. Because if you go to market with a brand that isn't a perfect fit with the pricepoint of your products or services, you're done. No takebacks. Unfortunately, we see brands make the mistake of skimping on the branding process in order to get to market as fast as possible and start making money. With the seeming ease of off-the-shelf websites and low cost-of-entry that these platforms provide, it's not surprising to see this surge of new brands. But when design and messaging and user experience and collateral and customer service and 300 other things aren't operating as a cohesive, tightly branded unit and marketing mix, today's unforgiving customers will go elsewhere every time.
Sometimes the brand is purposely positioned at the top of the market, like Apple. Their computers and products are significantly more expensive than Microsoft or Samsung or Dell and their like products. But we continue to pay top dollar because we trust Apple's brand, and their products' quality backs up their brand promise. Their commercials are 60-second movies, their stores are pristine and helpful and welcoming, their product design is modern and effiicient. It all works like a finely tuned symphony, many parts acting in concert with each other.
And sometimes a brand is purposely structured to live at the bottom market pricepoint. Are there any cheaply made commercials that stick out in your brain? Maybe you've seen them late at night or heard them on the radio with a jingle that will remain stamped on your brain forever. Chances are their goal is to be remembered as the most affordable, or the most available, or the most reliable. Or maybe it's a small budget operation and their goal is simply for their brand to be remembered at all.
This branding is also intentional, just like Apple. And no less valid. But if the brand and the price of its goods or services match perfectly, our brains will tell our hands to open our wallets every time, no matter how much we plan to pay.
So please, if you're considering starting a brand or thinking about a rebrand, contact an agency (doesn't even have to be us) and take the branding process, and all its many pieces, seriously -- this is absolutely the most important groundwork you'll be laying for your new business beyond the concept itself. Because no matter what price you're charging, without the right brand
, you run the risk of eventually not charging anything at all.
Founder & Principal
HypeLife Brands (Los Angeles | NYC)