Today, in many organizations around the world, branding is treated as a cosmetic exercise only, and regarded merely as a new name, logo, stationary and possibly a new advertising campaign. But, to associate your “brand” with such superficial cosmetics is like saying that people are really only the sum of their name, face and sometimes their clothing
But branding is a thoughtful discipline that strongly belongs to the long-term strategy of an organization; brand strategy is, or should be, business strategy, and vice versa.
Smart Branding is about having a clear point of view on what an organization is about and how it can deliver a thoughtful and unique experience to its customers. Then, the execution is about organizing all products, services, and corporate operations around the customer, to close the gap between the promised and the delivered brand experience.
For example, Staples, an office-supply retailer in the US, aims at making the purchasing experience easy, as communicated in its trademarked slogan “that was easy.” In practice, it may mean training the front-line personnel in customer service processes (e.g., how to minimize issues during check-out), designing the website for instant product reviews and actual delivery time, and scheduling fast delivery of orders and pick-up of returns. All those organizational aspects thus reinforce each other and converge to the same strategic objective.
Approach branding as a business strategy, is to view how all products, services and interactions with the consumer under the brand name become building blocks of bedrock of trust derived from their customers’ experience; For instance the iExperience that the iFamily of Apples’ iProducts deliver to its iFanatics.
To be successful, Smart Branding has to be seen as an important part of the corporate strategy, something that will deeply influence the entire organization. That’s why Smart Branding initiatives need to be aimed not only to the external costumer but also has to be directed to the inside of the organization, transforming the figure of the CEO into the brand champion who drives the brand and everyone in the organization; Think Howard Schultz, Steve Jobs or Richard Branson
To truly become and act as The Brand champions, CEO’s need to take all their decisions based on three premises:
1. The brand is the most important organization asset
2. The most important source of income is the customer, and
3. Branding is about business planning.
These three premises will help CEO’s follow the most important rule of the marketing game: If you don’t sell, you aren’t in business.
This CEO level approach to branding, allows brands to have an aided recognition that can result in premium pricing and extension opportunities, which ultimately will increase customers’ loyalty. It also provides management tangible metrics to assess initiatives, which eventually can be transformed into tangible brand equities.