Because of the huge sums of money invested in brands and the billions of dollars of shareholder value they represent, marketing professionals know a great deal about the subject. They know how branding works, its
, and what it takes to create a brand leader.
Brand fads appear from time to time, not so dissimilar from Andy Warhol's fifteen-minutes-of-fame concept. Yet there is a sufficient mystery that
even the most
marketers in awe of successful brands,
the immediately recognized ones that have
over long periods of time.
This section of the book establishes a backdrop against which you can evaluate how to brand your service experiences. You will be introduced to language that cuts to the quick in determining if your service is on-brand or off-brand. You will also become acquainted with organizations that have done well with their service branding—and those that have not.
At the end of
part I, you should be able to decide whether you want to take the next steps in linking your service delivery to your brand and what those
steps should be.
The Branding Imperative
Branding is one of the hottest topics in business today. It has become the business
. Indeed, some refer to it as a Branding Revolution.
1] The reason couldn't be more straightforward and underscores a clear business message in today's crowded
: your brand defines the unique point of differentiation for your products and services and is, perhaps, your only real opportunity to stand out.
Branding: A Way of Doing Business
The paramount role that brands and branding now play has been accompanied by major shifts in the field of marketing. Brands are seen to be much more than
or logos. Brands are as much a way of doing business as they are a reputation or identity.
The London-based branding agency Brand Guardians describes the linkage this way: "Branding is about performance. Branding represents different things to different people. But in the final analysis, branding is a tool for delivering your business objectives: a means to an end, not an end in itself."
Judgments about brands are structured with logical evaluation and laced with emotion. Some brand experts believe that a brand is
an emotional judgment. UK marketing agency Ogilvy-One's research, for example, suggests that as much as 66 percent of the preference for a brand is driven by emotional elements
even if consumers believe they are making rational decisions.
Because brands are largely
even though organizations today increasingly count brand strength as a key corporate asset, it makes sense to argue that brands are not exclusively owned by organizations. They are co-owned by consumers and organizations, equity
in their shared relationship. This perceived co-ownership leads consumers to believe they are "owed" delivery of what they have been
Janelle walked into a Rite Aid store. Over the
was a big, riveting sign that read "The Customer Is # 1." After picking up some items, Janelle went to stand in the only
check stand line, a queue that had three people in it. The customer whose items were being rung up was surprised at the price of one of them. She said, "Oh, I didn't realize it was that price. I don't think I want it if it's that much." The clerk sighed and picked up the intercom telephone to page the manager. "I need some help with the cash register. Could the manager
come to the front of the store?"
Everyone waited while the line grew in length. The manager did not
. The clerk once again got on the paging system to announce to the entire store, "Would the manager please come to the front of the store. I need to reverse an item out!" Again, nothing. In the meantime, the customer was beginning to show signs of embarrassment as the line
to grow. She knew she was holding all of us up.
. The line now had eight people in it. The clerk, in exasperation, then shouted, not even bothering to use the intercom, "I need the manager right away. The customer thinks this item is too expensive."
The manager slowly sauntered to the front of the store, ignoring the long line of customers and the very embarrassed
. The manager reached inside her smock and pulled out a key that she stuck into the cash register to release a lock. Now the clerk could reverse out the item. Without a word to
, the manager then proceeded to return to the back of the store.
As Janelle walked out the store, she once again noted the banner, "The Customer Is # 1." Right!
Companies promote their services and products by elevating consumer expectations and then act surprised when customers report that they feel like they got a bucket of cold water tossed in their faces. We believe it is reasonable and even predictable that consumers will feel this way because delivery of promises is frequently so different from how they are sold or how they look in ads or on Web sites. On the other hand, a simple and friendly hello using a customer's
and a quick response to an e-mail can send a
message that reinforces a larger more complicated promise: "We are big enough to meet your immediate business needs while we are small enough to know you."
Brand researchers have come to a profound conclusion with far-
impact: marketing must involve more than advertising and public relations. Branding success is no longer predominantly measured by how many consumers recognize or are aware of brands and their logos or slogans but by how strongly consumers feel connected to brands.
In fact, if advertising recognition is the sole criterion for marketing success, ad agencies are not doing a very good job. A recent survey by the brand consulting company Emergence found that of twenty-two taglines (McDonald's "You deserve a break today" is an example of a
) of the companies spending the most on advertising in the United States, only six were recognized by more than 10 percent of those surveyed.
4] Even when recognized, many advertising slogans are stated in absolute terms, such as The Customer Is # 1 or The Customer Is Always Right or 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed. The head of Emergence, Kelly O'Keefe, suggests that such statements don't work because a large proportion of the public believes they are mostly hype.
1]In a 2000 market survey, Brand Finance
percent of analysts and
percent of companies believe that branding will become [even] more important in the
." "The Case for Brand Value Reporting," Research 2000, Brand Finance, http://www.brandfinance.com.
2]"The Brand Resilience Presentation," http://www.BrandGuardians.com.
3]OgilvyOne's research, as reported by Annick Deseure, "In Search of Understanding,"
4]As reported by Bruce Horovitz, "Who Said That? Buyers Don't Recognize Some Slogans,"
, Money section, October 1, 2003.
5]Horovitz, "Who Said That?"