By Rakesh Raman
While ‘brand’ has become a buzzword in the sea-like business world, most companies are still confused about the true connotation of a brand. So, what’s a brand?
Simply put, a humdrum product or commodity attains the status of a brand when it delivers the value for money to its buyers. Moreover, a brand promises to deliver on its quality and value-for-money commitment and instills a high degree of confidence among a large number of consumers.
When buyers have multiple product options, they prefer to buy a branded product instead of a no-name item. Thus, a brand creates a pull factor among the consumers who also get emotionally attached with it regardless of its price.
Obviously, marketers would like to peddle a brand rather than a commodity. And a brand is not only about the buyers; it holds equal relevance for all stakeholders of a company – including buyers, suppliers, employees, resellers, investors, and others.
It goes without saying that while buyers want to buy branded items, a supplier would prefer to sell to a branded company for assured payments. Similarly, employees would prefer to work for a brand because of its reputation in the market. It will be easier for resellers to sell a branded item and investors would pump in their money into a brand for higher returns.
Then who won’t aspire to build a brand? All will and all do. But it’s an uphill task to build and manage a brand in a cluttered marketplace. Barring exceptions like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft which became global brands quickly after their introductions, usually an entire generation of business owners would struggle to build a brand out of a common commodity. Then the next generation of brand owners can leverage the brand benefits for business growth.
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While building a brand, first you have to understand your own product or service and its relevance in the marketplace. Then you need to create brand messaging around your offering. Brand messaging will highlight the strengths of your product and its positioning in the market. Brand messages are the objectives that your product aims to achieve by fulfilling a market need.
For example, a food products company can have a brand message as: “Helps you stay healthy.” This brand message will not appear explicitly in the company’s brand communications, but all its communications including ads, press releases, corporate speeches, etc. will be built around this message. Your communications can be for your buyers, suppliers, workers, resellers, investors, and others.
Now you can define the groups of consumers whom you want to target with your brand communications. Say, for a garments manufacturer, the target group can be youth. A hospital can target seniors, a hotel can target business people, and so on. A brand needs to constantly communicate with its target groups of consumers with customized communications to increase the brand recall among them.
As a brand owner, you need a medium that can carry and convey your brand communications to consumers or other stakeholders whom you want to engage with your brand. In a simple case, this medium can be air that can carry your message that you shout out about your brand. But your shout (or voice) has a distance limitation, as it can’t go beyond a few yards.
To overcome this distance limitation, brands use traditional media like newspapers, TV, radio, events, or billboards that have wider reach. But it has been observed during the past few years that traditional media also has distance constraints for brands that aspire to go global by transcending geographical limitations.
Traditional media fails to cross certain local boundaries. Plus, more consumer eyeballs are now shifting from traditional media to digital media dominated by Web and mobile channels. Obviously, brands that want to grow have no other option but to use digital media to convey their brand messages.
By Rakesh Raman, who is a government’s National award-winning journalist and social activist. He has formed an environment-protection group called Green Group in Delhi. Earlier, he had been associated with the United Nations (UN) through United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as a digital media expert to help businesses use technology for brand marketing and business development. He also runs a free school for deserving children under his NGO – RMN Foundation.