Category Archives: Branding Strategies

Branding for Bucks: defining your vision, mission and values

Three statements convey the essence of brand

These statements are, perhaps, resident in your business plan. They need to be repeated in the brand platform we are building to act as a foundation for all the brand development to follow. They are particularly valuable when developing a corporate brand. A product may or may not require them as they are covered under the corporate brand/identity.

The brand platform should contain your corporate vision statement, your mission statement and your value statement. If they do not already exist, here are some guidelines to help you develop them, as well as reasons to develop them. Continue reading Branding for Bucks: defining your vision, mission and values

Branding for Bucks: positioning is vital

Last blog I promised I’d speak to the concept of positioning and its importanceBranding for Bucks in the branding process.

Positioning is vital to a successful brand.

It is the most important aspect of branding, but it’s also a major determinant of how the business or product will be developed. So ideally, positioning would be an integral part of the original development of the business plan. Continue reading Branding for Bucks: positioning is vital

Branding for Bucks: vision, mission & value statements

As I mentioned last blog, I believe that branding is part of the fundamental strategic groundwork that dictates your business plan. Several significant elements discussed in the business plan should be highlighted and made the basis of your brand platform.

So I�d look to the business plan for the following information:

What markets segments do I plan to serve and why?
What are the major problems, needs, desires and characteristics of those market segments?
How can I solve their problems and satisfy their desires?
Who else is now attempting to satisfy those needs and desires, and how well are they doing?
How are my competitors now positioned within the marketplace? Continue reading Branding for Bucks: vision, mission & value statements

Branding for Bucks: Begin with a Brand Platform

I�m assuming you�re just beginning to create a business or introduce a product, andBranding for Bucks: the branding platform that you’ve not yet established branding elements.

I�m also assuming you�re astute and have developed a business plan first.

If not, go to this business planning web site and develop one. I don�t care if you�re just opening a diner or monetizing a web site, a business plan is the very first thing any new business builder should build. It sets up your business guidelines upon which all your future decisions and actions will emanate from.

There�s another reason for developing the business plan � much of what it contains is very relevant to building your brand. Continue reading Branding for Bucks: Begin with a Brand Platform

Brand Categories: for measuring performance, not attracting customers.

As marketers, we have been taught to classify competitors into product or service categories. Its a prime basis for the process called positioning. You, then, faithfully compete within your brands category.

Its also been claimed that brands which are the pioneers in their respective categories are usually first in awareness, preference and market share.

So you dont want to launch a me too product in an existing category.

Thats where innovation shines. If you can invent, combine, add, subtract, increase, decrease, and otherwise make your product different from the competition, you may have created a new category in which to participate. More likely itll be a subcategory if the product essentially provides the same function as the products in an existing category, but with a bit extra.

Name that category

Now category definition is certainly not an exact science. In a strict sense its only target market participants who define categories even if they do not consciously do so. Consumers do not think in term of categories, they think in terms of function and affordability. But market researchers and product developers like to develop a structure of categories for purposes of reporting and analyzing performance, and subsequently develop both strategic and tactical product planning.

choosing a category in which to compete

Charting categories and sub-categories containing over 60 varieties plus multiple combinations: helpful in tracking success but customers don’t make choices based upon artificial classifications.

So defining categories is an artificial though helpful exercise.

Classification systems might help

The U.S. government, specifically the Department of Commerce, has a method of classifying business types – North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS). This system is very helpful, particularly when the U.S.Census reports its business census data by classification. But, again, consumers arent even aware such a classification system exists. And a majority of businesses dont use that structure for the basis of their product classification process.

In some industries, a trade association might establish a system of product categories that assure some uniform reporting of statistics by category and subcategory. But where this isnt the case, each business, if they are even concerned about product classification, will likely establish their own hierarchy of categories.

Positioning in a new category

When youve developed a new feature or use or market for you product, you may believe you can establish it as the first product in a new category, a category defined by your innovation. And your industry may, upon launch, agree with you.

But the real test is the market. Do customers believe its a new product, not just a new and improved claim for the same old product? Do retailers recognize this as a new category and display it appropriately? Will reporters and editors in the popular press proclaim it a breakthrough product? Do product sales increase at rates faster than occurred in the old category against established competition? Until then, youre still participating the old category. Thats the markets verdict.

The moral: the market is the ultimate arbiter concerning with whom you compete and how you are perceived.

Martin Jelsema

Brand positioning: find differentiating attributes

A client came to me several years ago wishing to establish and brand a multi-location dry cleaning business in a major metro area.

He was a refreshing change from most clients in that he appreciated the need to differentiate his business from established competitors. He hadnt heard the term positioning before we talked, but he was well on his way of establishing one through the preliminary work hed done.

A Competitive Analysis

The first step in differentiating your business is to know the positions of your competitors. So the first thing my client had done was to develop a checklist and then visit each and every significant dry cleaner in his market. He not only did business with each, he spoke to customers entering the shops as if he were looking for a recommendation for a dry cleaner.

He first developed the checklist based upon his knowledge of the industry and his market, but he was flexible enough to make a few additions as he heard the responses from his competitors customers.

Identifying Differentiating Attributes

There were, of course, the obvious characteristics that may or may not be potential differentiators store hours, location, drive through service, delivery, work done on premise, breadth of services. These were just listed for each location. For competitors with more than one location, he would at least visit and rate three locations.

Then he developed a pricing matrix to chart posted prices. He also noted the amount and extent of couponing, bulk discounts and other incentive activity.

Next he listed several factors concerning stores and employees location, identification, appearance, cleanliness, counter clutter, helpfulness, knowledge and attitude and applied an A to F grading system to them.

In visiting with customers, he asked about their motivation for visiting this particular store, whether they only used this competitor, what they liked about this provider, whether the provider participated in community, and whether they had used a coupon or other incentive while visiting.

Finally, he collected competitive ads coupons, fliers, newspaper ads, etc. He got some info from media reps about who was advertising and at what volumes. He visited websites and observed signage.

Information Determines Position

He presented all this raw data in individual competitor reports. I then plotted those attributes he had graded, see diagram below, and analyzed the remaining information to establish a position which was relatively unoccupied, but where customers said they would like to see a dry cleaner.

Analysis of filled and available positions

That position will be the subject of a future blog. The point of this one was to demonstrate how easy but vital the collection and analysis of competitive data is to the positioning process, even for a local business with few competitors.

Martin Jelsema