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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Danger of Over-Branding? You Bet.

    Posted by Pat Owings

    Take Lessons from Big Business When Building Your Brand


    Building a strong brand is essential in order to stay ahead of the competition and standing out from the crowd has become increasingly difficult. Companies like Apple, GE, and UPS have continued to skyrocket their success staying true to their brands, while other companies have drowned out the unique value of their brand with over-branding. Companies are warned about the risks of pouring money into senseless advertising, bombarding their customers with too many messages, billboards, and products in order to build revenue and make a quick sale. Ultimately, companies that over-brand end up overlooking the needs of their customers and create resentment toward their own brand or scare consumers away. Brands like Dell, Blackberry, and MTV have all crossed the line with over branding and have lost sales and customers in recent years. If you feel your company may be destroying more value than it is creating, consider these tips for branding your business.

    Listen to the Customer

    Don’t lose sight of the real reasons your customers signed on with your brand to begin with. Continue to give customers the opportunity to provide feedback. Companies can be very quick to bombard their customers with unnecessary messaging, advertising, and constant in-your-face techniques. Many times, these companies stop listening to their customers and start losing them. In a recent study by mediapost.com, General Mills was identified as a great example of a company that has been around for years and still takes the time to listen to their customers. Known as one of the nation’s largest producers of breakfast cereals, General Mills has been very active with analytic tools and market research. Over the past couple years, General Mills has listened to the needs of their customers, and they have responded adequately, resulting in a 30% increase in sales.

    Stay Focused on a Small Product Portfolio

    Research over time has shown that when it comes to offering the customer a large variety of products, decision-making becomes much more difficult and brand perception can be confusing. Today’s marketplace has become saturated with brands offering too many choices. Brands like DANNON yogurt have seen a decline in sales by offering too many varieties, leaving customers overwhelmed and confused. Additionally, many brands have cut back their overhead and trimmed the amount of products, and Proctor and Gamble is one of them. P&G started with 25 Head and Shoulders products and cut back to just 16. The strategy worked and P&G profits rose 10%.

    Quality Will Brand Itself NOT Quantity

    At the heart of a brand, there must be some kind of truth in the quality of a brand or a product in order to be successful. People connect to sincerity. If a product is true and sincere, most likely it will sell itself. Statistically, higher quality brands achieve higher profits than their competitors, because even if it costs just a little bit more, people will choose quality over brand more often and tell their friends about it. This results in a product that brands itself, maybe even just by word of mouth. TalkTrack, which tracked more than 14,000 conversations by 2,500 people in May 2010, found that 81% of brand conversations took place face to face. People that can consistently rely on the quality of you brand will tell their friends about it, skyrocketing you into the top list of brands that have a loyal following.

    Be Unique

    Before you push a new product or brand into the marketplace, get behind the creative wheel just like the people behind Pixar Animation Studios, who have produced some of the most compelling and creative films. Think about the innovative and unique aspects of your brand that will appeal to customers. Connecting to your customer with a creative idea is essential to develop a brand that stays relevant and top-of-mind.

    Offer a Consistent Message

    Be consistent and offer the same message with clarity every time the public views or hears your brand. Consistency in imagery and language in the overall brand strategy will translate into reliability, familiarity, trust, and confidence with the customer, resulting in a strong brand identity. “It’s Everywhere You Want to Be” is the long-standing motto of VISA. With this slogan, the company has built up brand recognition by keeping the message consistent over time.

    Brands can sometimes get the illusion that they have done all the work that is needed and never realize they are their own distraction. It is important to be cautious when it comes to branding, especially in a world with countless opportunities for exposure. Customers get exhausted and burnt out with repeat messaging, constant advertisements, and customer oversight, and they just stop buying all together as a result of over-branding. By listening to customer feedback, staying true to your brand’s messaging, and providing a consistent message that supports a quality product, you can join the ranks with other successfully branded companies.

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    photo credit: brainware3000 via photopin cc

    Topics: Inbound Marketing