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Brands are all about how consumers position themselves. Powerful brands succeed by establishing a relationship, a connection, with their customers. To establish that connection - to earn a place in their world - a brand must know its customers and become a part of how customers want to see themselves.

- What's a Brand?
- Brand Types.
- The Job of Positioning.
- The Brand Benefit Hierarchy.

What's a Brand?

Quite simply, a brand is a promise to the customer, a mirror in which the customer sees a reflection of him or herself and identifies with, or rejects, the promise he or she sees. Likewise, a brand is also a reflection of your organization. Your brand serves to define your organization and influences every aspect of your operation, right down to corporate culture. The power of your brand has far-reaching impact. On stock valuation. On marketing costs. Even on employee retention rates.

For customers, branding plays two important roles:

- In a world with lots of choices, it tells them which choice is right. It serves as a customer's compass out of the chaos of competing choices.
- In a world full of change and confusion, it helps them define who they are.

Brand Types:

  • Parent Brands:

    Parent brands serve as our basis for identification, they provide recognition and quality reassurance. They say "safe, reliable, trustworthy". We associate parent brands with a set of values and imagery, and they evoke certain expectations about what our experience will be using that brand.
  • Line Brands:

    Line brands bring texture and tangible relevance to the parent brand, while adding the distinctive appeal of their own unique identity. Line brands code a product/service for a specific usage experience - a particular situation or occasion - and provide information about the intended user. They serve as a telegraphic communicator of attributes as well as functional and emotional benefits.
  • Brand Extensions:

    Brand extension allow parent/line brands to extend to new arenas of competition, new users and new usage occasions. By reinforcing the parent/line identity, extensions increase a brand's equity. They provide incremental growth revenue to the brand and keep parent and line brands current and vital.

When we interact with a brand, we experience it through a variety of attributes. All of these attributes tell us how to "feel" about a particular brand:

- What is it (cognitive)
- What does it look like (visual)
- How does it feel (emotional)
- What does it stand for (symbolic)
- How does it sound (auditory)

The Job of Positioning:

Brand positioning builds a bridge between the larger self of the consumer ("How I want to see myself") with a larger idea about a product or service.
It constantly seeks to build the relevance and equity of your brand. Proper positioning allows your customer to say, "This is the right choice for me".

Effective Positioning:

  • Is intrusive, it cuts through the clutter.
  • Is relevant, it constantly asks, "how can we join consumers" rather than asking consumers to join you.
  • Differentiates, it demonstrates what's really different about your brand compared to everyone else.
  • Strengthens margin, it establishes ownership of the category, not just "squatter's rights", by focusing on increasing brand equity.
  • Creates demand, it links the consumer back to the category via the brand.
  • Is consistent, it demands loyalty to consumers rather than requesting their loyalty to you. It requires you to be faithful to your brand and leverage it fully.
  • Is customer-focused, it speaks in today’s consumer currencies: time, energy, money, quality and self-esteem.

The Brand Benefit Hierarchy:

Powerful brands allow us to join and connect to something larger than ourselves. We associate a brand with a whole bundle of increasingly meaningful benefits, a hierarchy of needs. Brands help us define who we are. Great brands recognize that they play an important role in how people position themselves in the world, which is the true focus of positioning.

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