by Christian Cuevas, Operations Assistant
What is product branding? Why is it important?
Branding refers to the way people perceive your business; these perceptions are a reflection of what your company means to them. Company branding is often seen as something that may develop naturally throughout the life of the business; however, it is a very critical aspect to a companies success which requires going beyond getting the job done. Establishing an emotional connection between a person and the business he/she is dealing with is not an easy thing, especially in highly competitive markets. In competitive markets, businesses must find ways to differentiate themselves in order for consumers to easily determine where they are going to buy their good or service. Business owners often try achieving this differentiation through lowering the cost of their good or service. But they can also do so through well executed product branding.
Though consumers will generally respond positively towards a cheaper alternative, there is a reason people are willing to pay $1,000 for a smartphone that has the same functions as a phone that costs half of that price. As you read that last sentence, your brain may have already automatically made a connection between a product and a company. Regardless if you are a fan of Apple or not, their immense popularity in the marketplace is undeniable. When Apple released their first iPhone, they took an existing product (the smartphone) and made it different. Along with a new design, they created an operating system that provided people with a unique user interface and on the back of this product was the iconic Apple logo. Apple features their logo on every product making it easy for consumers to associate the bitten apple logo with all of the positive experiences and connotations that come with it. Apple is consistent with both the quality of their products and the unique experience they offer to each individual consumer. To many Apple users, the experience they have with products is so unique that they become extremely loyal to the company. Alternatives are not an option to these loyal customers, which gives the company an edge in their industry. Although much of the branding for Apple has come from their differentiation in the experience a consumer has with their products, the consistency in the use of their logo acts as a flag for their consumers to proudly wave.
Not all companies can brand the same way that Apple has branded themselves. There are some companies that have products that largely vary in target audiences. Apple’s products appeal to a very large group of people, making the user experience very uniform among most product users. The buyer of an iPhone may also want an iPad. In other cases user experiences are purposely made to vary because the audience is very different. For example, a car company is not going to brand a minivan the way they brand their high performance sports car. This is simple because the feelings that consumers expect and want from the vehicles are completely different. A person looking for a new family van may desire most the feeling of safety and comfort, while the person looking for that high performance sports car is most interested in the feeling of adrenaline and excitement. Perhaps the company is dedicated to mostly make family oriented vehicles, but they also produce that one sports car; in that case it would be wise to brand the sports car differently from how the car company as a whole has been branded. Show below, you can see the front ends of two sports cars from different competitors. Although both cars are respectively very beautiful, well-designed performance vehicles, one has an element of branding that may have already allowed you to picture the entire car.
The emblem on top comes from the front end of a Ford Mustang, while the bottom one comes from the front end of a Chevrolet Camaro. Can you guess which has been branded better? In 1965 when the first year of Mustangs were produced, rather than being badged with the standard company badges the Mustang was badged with a symbol representing power, endurance, and speed. This symbol is still placed all over modern day Mustangs. Both consistency and repetition are crucial when creating a connection between a symbol and a customer. The Chevrolet Camaro has had various redesigns in their logo since the first year it was created, which made its brand a bit unclear over the years. Today, we will see Camaros badged with the same logos that you can find on any of Chevrolet’s vehicles, reducing the vehicles unique qualities. In comparison, Ford has taken a different approach in how they uniquely tailored their Mustang product branding. The logo is not only seen on the front and rear of the car, but it is also placed on the middle of the steering wheel to greet the driver as they enter the vehicle. Though it is a small difference, it is the small branding details that can make a difference when a person is looking to make a purchase. In this case, since both vehicles are similar in performance, it may just be the brand that may persuade a consumer to buy a particular car. Building unique experiences that allow consumers to develop an emotional connection to your product or service is essential to establishing customer loyalty.
People don’t love buying cars.
People love driving cars.
Going fast. Showing friends and family. Personalizing with accessories. Even the new car smell. You can buy it in sprays, little mirror trees, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. No one feels nostalgic for the “low” payment or the warranty. They love the experience that is uniquely part of owning a vehicle. So why are dealerships continuously and relentlessly focused on everything but ownership?
“The dealership experience is as old as the car industry, roughly 100 years old. While cars have changed, the retail experience is much the same as it was 100 years ago.”
–Dr. Ian Robertson, Head of Sales & Distribution at BMW
This is what so many dealerships resist to acknowledge and are even slower to correct. They remain focused on their experience (lot layout, funneling an up, trade evaluation, price negotiation, finance, etc.) instead of the experience of their customers. Most other industries have already recognized the necessity of building an experience for the customer instead of forcing customers into an experience.
Consider these facts from a 2014 Edmunds survey:
That should be alarming to the automotive industry. One-third of your customers would rather deal with the IRS than you. Employees are personified as the icons of lying, cheating, and stealing. “He’s as bad as a used car salesman.”
When we meet with dealership clients, most say they want to stand out from their competition. To do that at most stores, we encourage them to look internally first. At Arkside Marketing, we have two rules we teach every client. The second one is, “never make it difficult for someone to give you their money”.
The solution is usually easy to identify. Any area where the customer is not the primary focus could be an area for improvement. Getting a customer excited is surprisingly easy for a great dealership. Expectations are already so low that exceeding them can be achieved with one or two simple actions. A dozen would blow them away!
Here are some simple changes you can make to improve a customer’s first five minutes at your dealership:
Build everything around the experience of owning a car – not buying one. Your dealership is a method of delivery for a product they can buy at your competitor. You can be a dealer of a great experience. By doing so, you will generate more word-of-mouth referrals, more positive conversations and testimonials online (Facebook, Yelp, etc.) and more service drive retention. Then take those incredible experiences and make them part of your marketing. Tell the world about your success.
Don’t sell a car – offer a great car experience.
If you would like to know more about how to integrate your sales and marketing strategies to deliver a great car experience for your customers (and cost-efficiently for you, contact us today. Our first consultation and needs analysis is completely free.
Few things are as important to your business as your brand identity. The branding of your company is about your logo, your appearance, your service, your products, and your reputation. It is how the world perceives you. Your ad agency should understand and appreciate the importance of brand development.“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” –Jeff Bezos
The development and protection of a brand is critical. A critical element of that brand representation is your logo. It is the most commonly seen visual representation of your company. Hundreds of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars go into the promotion of a logo. When we come across instances like the ones below, we wonder if the agency truly understands the value of their client’s brand:
These examples were taken from the home page rotator of a US regional Chevrolet dealer association website. They represent 57% of the images in that rotator. That makes such errors difficult to excuse as isolated incidents or something not reviewed by multiple employees (graphic designer, project manager, account executive) and the client.
We are the first to admit that we aren’t perfect. No agency or person is perfect. But errors like this speak to a larger problem of disregarding the fundamentals of brand integrity. Imagine the IBM logo being printed backwards on a company brochure. Or Google having a typo and showing up “Gogle”. It wouldn’t make it off the printing press.
Protect your logo.
Protect your reputation.
Demand an agency that does the same.
Arkside Marketing is a full-service ad agency, specializing in regulated enterprises such as law firms, car dealerships, hospitals, and financial institutions. If you would like a complimentary analysis of your current marketing efforts or brand identity, please contact us today to schedule an appointment. We can come to your office or conduct the analysis online via Skype, Google Hangouts, or Join.me.