In our articles How to increase margins for replaced and successors products and Intelligent price management using ‘decoy products’, we have illustrated to you that customers always compare a product with other, related products and with which strategies you can place your product advantageously within your assortment. Aided by a well thought-out branding, you can also achieve a long-term customer relationship, which in turn affords you a strong starting position in pricing terms. As soon as customers know and trust your brand, you will have achieved a decisive competitive advantage along the way.
But how do you develop an image with which you differentiate yourself from the competition, on the one hand, and, on the other, conjure up in customers an “I know that, I like that” feeling? The foundation for this is a clear distinguishing feature, otherwise known as a USP – Unique Selling Proposition. This means that the customer not only buys a product, but additionally makes a promise to it. Formulating this promise and its establishment is the definition of branding (for example: healthy milk straight from the lilac-coloured cow, as with Milka, or the feeling of coolness as with Coca Cola). The following tips will offer you suggestions on how to find a well thought-out branding for your products:
Branding tip #1: Determine what your brand should achieve with customers
Or in other words, what do you promise customers so that they become aware of your offering? Jaleh Bisharat, Vice President of Marketing at oDesk, presents this process in terms of a five-step pyramid. In the first and second steps, you will be aware of what your product is and what it does. Take, for example, a vitamin bar and a television set: A vitamin bar is healthy and filling, whilst a TV gives the buyer access to numerous entertainment programs. The next step is to define the use of your product. To take the example mentioned: The vitamin bar is so balanced that it equates to a full meal and your TV offers such a sharp image and sharp tone that users forget the world around them. Up to this point, creating this pyramid is relatively simple.
In the next step, you define the brand experience that your product is to invoke in the customer. In the case of the vitamin bar, this is an awareness to eat healthily and in the TV set is the perfect entertainment. Once you’ve completed these four steps, you’ll be ready to core your brand: This is the emotion that you want to awaken in the customer. Its promise is well-being with the vitamin bar and relaxation with the television. It is this brand essence that will appeal to and convince the customer.
Branding tip #2: Position yourself on the market
The market is large and filled with lots of products and information – it is fundamental right here that you know where you yourself stand. To find your place, establish the position of other competitors, on the one hand, and ask yourself, on the other, what you hope to add to the existing market. In this way, you will answer the questions on your target group and your company philosophy. The following table will help you with positioning:
|For whom||The target audience you want to influence|
|Competitive Context||Your product in relation to it competes in|
|Strategic Advantage||The specific advantage your brand delivers compared to others|
|Compelling and Result||The rational and emotional benefits experienced by your target audience|
|Personality||The way you relate to your audience or adjectives that describe your brand|
Diligently fill out this table, developed by branding expert David Aaker, to recognise the position you hope to take on the market.
Branding tip #3: Develop your own expressive trademark
To maintain an enduring presence with the customer, you need a logo that impresses. At best, develop a trademark that represents a reflection of your previously defined branding core: The chosen logo expresses the same feeling – through script, form and colour – that you promise the customer when purchasing your product. Your logo should then be used omnipresent. Print it on business cards and use it on your website, newsletters and marketing articles to keep it in customers’ minds.
Branding tip #4: Get yourself involved
If your products and services convince your customers, you should use this as a basis to further expand the customer relationship. Ask for feedback, inform of sales offerings and employ social media. Zalando, as an example, pursues a successful posting mentality. Your company will now occupy a fashion-conscious position and thus communicate with its customers on the same level. By such methods, you will strengthen the relationship with the customer and also expand your sphere of influence.
On following these four steps, you will have created a solid foundation for promising branding. Once you have sharpened and distinguished your branding, this increases your recognition value among customers, which in turn strengthens your market position. In our article How to establish active price management, we show you how to use an intelligent pricing strategy to increase margins and increase sales.
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