Why Most Brands Suck


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A friend recently told me about a meeting at which a senior marketing manager said, “We need to change our name – we need a new brand.”

It’s pretty shocking to hear nonsense like that from a senior marketing manager. Someone actually thought that changing a name is equal to creating a new brand?

A brand, of course, is a lot more than a name. But what is it? People seem pretty confused on that point. One hears words like “reputation”, “personality”, or the “impression” that a company’s products or services make. Considering the studies showing that strong brands boost stock price and market cap, you’d think that marketers would have pinned this down a bit better.

A brand is more than a name or an impression: a brand is a combination of the company name and associated symbols, the visceral impression people have of the company, and the experience that’s created whenever someone has any kind of contact with your company, be it products, services, or support. Most marketers, like the one at the meeting I mentioned, don’t get beyond the first two. When we evaluate our brands, we should be asking, “what is the experience we’re creating?”

And that’s why most brands suck. Most companies don’t have a clue about the experience they’re creating. If they did, they’d realize that those experiences aren’t very good, for the most part.

To understand how good or bad your brand is, you have to define what the experience is, not just for customers, but for vendors and investors too – anyone that’s touched by your company.

Brand is bigger than just the products. At my old bank, no one took charge of my experience – personnel came and went, and I never knew who was responsible for my account. No one was tasked with seeing that I walked away satisfied. But that didn’t stop them from sending me a survey so I could evaluate their “brand.” My experience: being lost, ignored, and then taken for granted.

Buy a PC in a big-box store. Then buy a computer in an Apple store, where someone will help you set up your computer, transfer your files, and see that you’re taken care of. The latter experience: being cared for and considered important.

Another example: I spoke with someone who called up two manufacturers to price some equipment. One company sent a price list. The other one sat down with him and asked about his needs and what support they could give. After the sale, they checked in to see how things were going. The experience: I am more than just a sale.

So, want to build your brand? You’ve got 3 questions to address:

1. What’s my brand experience?
2. How do I measure what’s defining that brand experience?
3. How am I going to improve that experience (what am I doing in the next 12 months to improve the brand experience)?

Anything less than those three, and you’re not on firm ground.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Thompson Morrison
Thompson Morrison has spent the last couple of decades figuring out how companies can listen better. Before co-founding FUSE, Mr. Morrison was Managing Director of AccessMedia International (AP), a consulting firm that provides strategic market analysis for the IT industry. His clients included Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, IBM, and Vignette.


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