In the very recent past, I have had a couple experiences that have reminded me in no uncertain terms of the power of brands.  In once case, I made an instant purchase of a new product I didn’t need (and am not 100% sure what I’m going to do with), based solely on the brand.  It actually surprised me.  In another case, I realized that my lack of brand loyalty in a certain category has made me an unhappy customer of that particular consumer product category, basically for life.

Now, I am a marketing professional and it seems I should be somewhat immune to the effects of a brand, but of course, I am not.  I’m fiercely loyal to many brands, sometimes past the point of reason.  If Sony or Apple made cars, I’d drive them.  We’re all like that to varying degrees.

In order to more fully understand what makes up a brands’ power, it’s helpful to break it down in to a few of the most important benefits of a brand:

  • Brands make many purchases easier.  In a category with strong brand associations, brands make the purchase decision easier for the buyer because there is a familiarity and a trust established with the brand.  That trust allows the buyer to confidently make a purchase with very little cognitive dissonance.  As in my examples above, strong brands make for happy customers.
  • Brands make it easier to adopt new products and ideas. Often times and technologies change and new, inherently better products are able to come to market.  When these new product are brought out under an existing brand, adoption is aided by the association with the current brand and product, allowing for quicker adoption by the market.  Apple’s excellent branding and extension of the “iPod” naming concept to the iPhone and iPad helped establish those products quickly and forcefully.
  • Without brand differentiation, buyers have to decide on some other aspect.  When brand is a major component in a category, it makes up a good deal of the differentiation in the category.  Brands help create a difference between like products.  Without that differentiation, the buyer decides what the decision parameters are and you’ve lost control of the purchase decision.
  • Stronger brands have better financial performance.  Studies have been done on the S&P 500 to track the long term performance of companies with weak and strong brands.  As you may guess the stronger brands outperform the weaker brands by a considerable margin.  It’s a result in part to the strengths above, and is measurable.

It’s a fact that every company has a brand, whether one has been carefully designed and executed or not.  Successful businesses care for and feed their brands so they can grow and prosper.  You should, too.  Put the mysterious power of a brand to work for you!  It’s never too late to grab a hold of your brand and start to shape it.

Is your brand all you’d like it to be?  What is the downside of your brand and how can it be improved?

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