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A Brand is More Than an Identity

A Brand is More Than an Identity

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Good brands start with a distinctive promise to deliver a positive experience

By Mary Charleson – BUSINESS VANCOUVER

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Good branding is important to successful marketing. But what really is good branding? Most of us recognize it when we see it or experience it, but few of us truly understand how to effectively create it.
The dictionary defines a brand as a product or service with distinctive characteristics and bearing a widely known name. Although accurate, this definition is devoid of emotional character, which is at the heart of good branding.

Duane Knapp, president of BrandStrategy Inc., recently in town for the B.C. chapter of the American Marketing Association annual Vision Marketing Conference, believes that good branding starts with asking the questions, “How are you going to be perceived as distinctive?” and most importantly, “What is your promise?”

Knapp notes, “Birks’ promise is to surprise and delight,” not just sell jewelry. The emphasis is on the customer experience while buying jewelry. More important than what or how you sell is the identification of how you will make your customer feel. “A brand has to feel like a friend” are wise words from Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz. Superior and well-loved brands evoke an emotional response. People light up and get excited when they speak of experiencing them. Lululemon, Starbucks and Birks come to mind. These brands have an attitude and a mindset that make the experience memorable. Number-one brands have three things in common:

They are possessed by how their customers feel. They know what their customers are thinking daily.
They own a distinctive position in the marketplace. They offer benefits that their competitors do not.
That distinctiveness, what the brand stands for, is focused on functional and emotional benefits. The brands don’t just deliver goods or services; they evoke an emotional response.

Without a brand strategy, you become a commodity, forced by competitors to compete solely on the merits of price.

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