How are you establishing brand preference?

Brand preferenceBranding, for many companies, is low on their priority list – or perhaps even off the radar screen.  Many businesses simply do not give sufficient focus to their brand initiatives.  How many times have you heard – branding is too intangible or “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”?  Since branding isn’t directly reflected on a company’s balance sheet or financial statements, it’ often overlooked.

The reality is, branding, while difficult to accurately quantify, is a powerful marketing tool that can enable tremendous returns on investment.  Branding is the primary reason consumers are willing to pay triple the price for one product over another.

Executed properly, corporate or product branding creates a perception that targeted prospects and customers gravitate towards.  Perhaps the brand symbolizes an active lifestyle, innovation, caring, luxury, reliability, a company’s policy on environmental issues, etc.  An effective brand evokes a feeling which creates long-term customer loyalty.  It is the result of a clear vision that fits with the overall corporate strategy.

Branding is directly related to the perceived value of a product or company.  While brand awareness is essential for name recognition, strategic awareness occurs when you have differentiated your brand in the mind of your market.  This is often referred to as your unique selling proposition.  This tells the market what you do, and more importantly, how you do it differently or better than your competitors.

To go one step further, establishing brand preference should be the desired outcome of a company’s branding initiatives.  This allows the market to understand what is unique about a particular brand, allows them to emotionally connect to the brand, and creates a bias for selecting that brand over competing brands.

Fortunately, there are many effective marketing and branding strategies to help companies improve their brand visibility.  Social media has opened a vast number of opportunities for businesses of all sizes to rapidly disseminate information, generate buzz, and establish brand recognition.  Social media enables companies to get immediate customer feedback.  Truly listening to your customers and responding to each of them can have a significant impact on the credibility of your brand.

Social media also facilitates an effective means for companies to monitor their brand image.  There are a number of analytical tools which generate valuable reports and statistics.  This is beneficial for a number of reasons – it can create an objective profile of the current landscape.  It also allows you to set benchmarks and measure specific metrics.  These could include the number of times your brand is mentioned, the number of links to your product or site, the number of retweets, etc.

Social media is gaining momentum every day; it is a powerful form of communication that is not going away.  Companies can either watch on the sidelines or actively participate to help establish the communication channels that will drive brand preference.

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