Direct Marketing, Mail Order, and E-commerce News from the National Mail Order Association


What is Branding?

There is a lot of talk in the business world about
building "Brand". But the word "Branding" seams to mean
different things to different people.

Many believe branding is merely getting your logo in front
of prospects. Some in advertising may say, "If the consumer
has heard of us, we've done our job."

But is that really "Branding"? Can a "Brand" be bought
with lot's of cash?

Here are John Schulte's thoughts on the subject.

In June of 2000 I made a few predictions for direct
marketers for the coming years. Prediction 3 was;
"Millions spent by web companies on "Branding" turn out to
be a waste."

I'm a fairly simple person, to me a good "Brand" is a name
on a product that I trust to be good from past experience.
As a consumer I put products into "Good Brand" and "Bad
Brand" categories when making purchasing decisions, and
maybe a "so-so" category.

If I have a good experience with a certain company's
product, I consciously put them in the good "Brand" section
of my mind for future purchasing decisions. Of course,
when asked, I also would say to someone; "yeah, I bought
one of those and I'm happy." That's how a "Brand" is
built in my mind.

So, I believe a "Brand" must be earned, it is something
given to a company by happy customers. It is something
that cannot be bought with money. Take for example
Craftsman tools by Sears. They became popular with millions
of home mechanics and handymen because they were good tools
for the price.

You could count on them lasting, and Sears backed many of
them up with a lifetime guarantee. So Sears put in place a
foundation for Craftsmen becoming a successful "Brand", but
the people that bought and used the tools, and told their
friends they were good, is what actually made Craftsmen
tools a good "Brand".

Sears was then able to leverage the Craftsman "Brand" to
many other hardware, automotive, and home products. They
could do it because people figured, hey, Craftsman tools
are good, this product must be too. FYI, the Craftsmen
"Brand" was launched in 1926, so Brand is not built

Sure, you can spend millions promoting a company or
product, thinking you are building "Brand", but what you
are doing is simply getting more people trying a product
faster. This alone will not make a good "Brand"; in
fact, it can help build a bad "Brand" faster if the
product quality or shopping "experience" is bad. There are
a lot of recent examples of this in the Dot-Com flash and
burn era.

I understand that many people consider "Brand" as the image
the company portrays to attract a certain type of buyer or
buyer want-to-be's. And I believe this is part of the
overall equation of total "Brand". But the product itself,
and the value it gives will be the true underlying factor
in building a "Brand" for long term success. You can not
build a good "Brand" if everybody that uses the product
says it sucks! And that will be true no matter how ingenious
and creative your message is, or how much money you spend on
spreading it.


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