So you have a great product and all the necessary enthusiasm to put it in front of the masses and watch it fly off the shelves (literally or virtually). That’s great!
There’s just one problem: somewhere out there, it is a likely bet that there are many other marketers – possibly hundreds or more – who all have similar products and the enthusiasm to stir up sales. The problem is simple: most products are impossible to sell on their own.
A burger is just a burger, but a Five Guys burger is something special. No one ever decides to go out for a burger, but plenty of people are making the decision right now to go to Five Guys. They know what they’re going to order when they get there, but they aren’t thinking about just a burger.
That, in a nutshell, is branding. But why is branding important?
Let’s look specifically at Five Guys for a minute.
Selling the Brand, Not the Burger
Five Guys is just one example of why good branding is so important. At the end of the day, Five Guys sells burgers. They sell little else besides.
They have a very simple menu that caters to a reasonably narrow demographic. They don’t overspend on advertising. In fact, their advertising budget is virtually non-existent.
So why doesn’t one of North America’s most beloved burger chains need to spend the kind of money that competitors like Wendy’s and McDonald’s do?
The answer is simple: their brand sells itself. Read that again carefully – it’s the brand that sells.
Five Guys is one of a small handful of companies that have discovered the secret to long-term success and it has nothing to do with paid advertising.
Pop Quiz Time!
Let’s see how well you fare on this question – we’ll make it multiple choice.
Which of the following is a benefit of branding?
A) It cultivates long-term customer relationships
B) It builds trust in your product
C) It positions you as an expert in your niche
D) It gives your product a unique identity
If you’re wondering if this is a trick question, the answer is yes.
Every one of those options is a potential result of good branding. In fact, these four results are the key outgrowths of a good branding strategy.
The answer then, to “Which of the following is a benefit of branding?” is all of them.
With that in mind, here are a couple more real-world examples of how branding yields these kinds of results.
Jet: The Incredible Shrinking Price Tag
If you haven’t heard of this company yet, you will. Even though growth has been a little slow, Jet is gradually gaining a foothold in the e-commerce market. Their progress has been significant when one considers that they are pitting themselves directly against players like Amazon that are in no imminent danger of losing any significant percentage of their market share.
Many business analysts believe that Jet is poised well to give Amazon a real run for its money – and money is the key area where Jet’s branding strategy is focused. The company’s key brand advantage centers on a unique e-commerce experience. It follows a number of the same market styles, trends, and functions of Amazon, with a very attractive twist.
Jet rewards its customers for their loyalty. The more people shop, the less they pay for the products they buy there. The more you buy, the less you pay for future purchases. Jet is also far more transparent in its presentation of products and services and that alone is a huge identifier of their brand.
You can file this strategy under building trust and cultivate long-term customer relationships. Why is branding important to Jet’s business strategy? Simply put, nothing says, “We appreciate your business,” more than doling out deals to loyal customers and making that a focal point of product presentation.
Airbnb: Bringing Branding Home
Let’s just put it out there: the concept behind Airbnb is a little strange: save money on hotels by sleeping in strangers’ homes. A few years ago, we would have thought the idea was just this side of crazy. Today, it’s big business. Why is that? The concept didn’t change. The presentation of it did.
Airbnb does an excellent job of spinning the concept of adventure. It caters to travelers who prefer to spend their money on the memories they’re making, not where they sleep. Its branding model is one of cultural immersion. Saving money on accommodations helps people check more things off their bucket lists, so they travel to places they might not otherwise have considered.
Millions of travellers in nearly 200 countries (at the time of this writing) use Airbnb every year. They do a stellar job of vetting and keeping tabs on members who use their brand, once again creating an atmosphere of dependability and trust. Even when a customer has a bad experience, they work with that person to make it right and take a proactive role in ensuring that the customer remains brand loyal.
So why is branding important? Simply put, there is a qualitative difference between selling and branding. Anyone can sell a product, but it takes branding in marketing to make that product unique.
Remember that branding has precious little to do with the product. It has far more to do with influencing the perception of the product in the eyes of the consumer.