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Brand association is one of the most undervalued competitive advantages. Brand association is the combination of the various qualities that differentiate a business from its competitors. It is not just advertising, nor is it simply a catchy name for a company or product.
The most important value in a brand association is the value that it holds for your customers. This value is delicate and simple to destroy, and it takes a long time and a lot of money to create. One of the reasons why executives worldwide are struggling to build and sustain a brand association is the complexity of doing so, especially in smaller businesses.
This is unfortunate because a well-managed brand association can outperform practically every close competitor but not beyond your immediate environment. This is why larger corporations with a lot of management clout prefer to invest a great deal of time and resources in branding associations. We are out to assist business owners and entrepreneurs in using excellent brand association to attract and win great customers and retain them.
What Makes A Great Brand Association?
Brand associations are valuable simply because they cause customers to be inclined to purchase your product rather than buying from someone else. In a way, a brand can also be termed as the things the customer can expect from your product. These are qualities that cannot be seen in other brands except in your products. Your brand association must appeal to your clients’ earnings and goals to have any competitive advantage in the marketplace, just like any other outstanding brand. The qualities embedded in your brand association must be distinct, unique and difficult to imitate. Starting from logo, motto, and theme, your brand association should make a distinct statement in the marketplace. If your brand is effectively handled, your customers and clients will be proud to be connected with a unique and sophisticated brand.
Why Is Having A Strong Brand In The Global Market So Vital?
In an increasingly global market, branding can serve two distinct functions that may be beneficial to you: first, a “local” brand can provide you with a loyal customer base that is more difficult (and costly) to replace, and second, a “global” brand can provide you with a foot in the door when looking to expand into new geographic areas. Be aware that developing a “global” brand is costly, and developing a “local” brand can be just as costly. Even yet, when dealing with non-local businesses, the brand can be a powerful offensive and defensive strategy.
This is part of the justifications for the more cost-effective “local” companies and a good tool for defending your home turf from a foreign competition: the success of brand association is built upon three critical factors:
1. Understanding the key values in the mind of your customers
2. Knowing how to put the customers’ values into your product or service
3. Effectively inculcating those values into your brand association.
Two of these factors stated above, understanding your customer and associating your brand with values, are very much defined by culture. Thus, someone from outside your culture – and this could even be someone who speaks the same language from a different region – will find it much more difficult to get an accurate grip on what your customers’ key values are, and how to persuade such buyers that your product is a reflection of those chosen ideas. This isn’t to say that a foreign competitor couldn’t do it, but it would be much more costly and difficult.
Evaluating Your Brand Association
Objectively evaluating your brand association is difficult, especially if you’re looking for a precise figure. Thankfully, competent strategic decision-making rarely necessitates this. When contemplating strategic options, it’s not a bad idea to have a minimum overview of the worth of your brand association.
The most objective way to assess your brand connection is to compare the outcomes that occur when your core values and traits are used vs when they are not. This can be as simple as the method you approach the market allowing you to test various assumptions regarding your brand association. For instance, a training firm might experiment with sending brochures that highlight (or don’t feature) particular brands to see how effective one of those brands is at attracting course registrants. Similarly, if you have the resources, you may try and sell a “general” product in the marketplace to see whether it can be sold at the same price as your present brand – in sufficient quantities. This is a little more challenging with retail products because some stores insist on only carrying brand-name products on their shelves. Furthermore, retailers, particularly major chains, generally require payment for the use of their shelf space, making retail brand testing highly costly.
If testing isn’t an option, you can get a rough idea of brand association (values and traits) by comparing the popularity and pricing of rival brands with little or no brand power. It can be tough to be impartial about this if you don’t have a completely generic “no-name” competition – after all, how do you determine which competition has the least brand power? There may also be some misunderstanding about value because a brand association’s effectiveness depends on various factors.
If you were to attempt to calculate brand values, you would be faced with extracting non-brand factors that affect your market performance. The cost goes up or down depending on operating abilities, management, the underlying cost structure, and buying ability. Strong brand, pricing expertise, and distribution/retail channel power may all influence margin. And volume can be affected by cost and margin, brand power, distribution network, and underlying demand for your products.
Regardless, after all, is said and done, your brand produces one of two concrete results: margin or volume. If you keep in mind the disclaimer regarding other things that may influence the margin, One way to determine the value of your brand is to compare your margins to the rivalry. Analyzing volume is less likely to produce a fair assessment of brand value since, in many situations, charging lower prices can create bigger volumes with no brand value at all. By the way, if you’re worried about cheaper international competition, this is a bad approach to utilize because there are significant costs that you just won’t be able to beat your foreign competitors on.
Way Out Of A Failing Brand Association
In some cases, companies run into a “brick wall” when evaluating their own brand association objectively. Several factors can cause this, but the outcome is the same: some brands don’t mean anything to the customer and do not carry any premium in the marketplace. Naturally, such brands provide little protection against low-cost foreign competition, and companies that rely too heavily on fictitious brand power will inevitably find themselves in hot water as foreign competitors use their compelling power – lower prices – to erode domestic competitors’ market share.
Is there a “crash course” way to build brand association? Yes – but it’s inherently risky and not for the faint of hearts. Because your clients’ brains, not your wants, drive brand connection, this is the case. You’ll need to do something unique to establish strong, positive brand recognition quickly. “Doing a little better” does not equate to “standing out.”- It refers to something exceedingly outstanding, or anything “worthy of remark.” Customers don’t focus on slightly better brands; instead, they comment on differences they find intriguing.
The Honda model (Element) is an excellent illustration of something exceptional. In the congested sport utility vehicle industry, this is a truly unique design. The design is so distinctive that only a few copies have been made. Marketing people at Honda were extremely uncomfortable that the design was so different from any other brand in the SUV market that they wanted to scrap it. The engineers were successful in their battle to produce a small number of Elements as a “niche” product alongside a more widespread design. After the first year of production, the Element was outselling the “safe” design by five to one!
The importance of a well-spelled out brand association in developing a great brand cannot be overstated. Such brands transcend their local environment and become global brands. Such values and qualities in your brand association will propel many customers to your product(s).
Since your company has many competitors and the marketplace is a jungle, one best way to stand out is to be profitable and competitive by having a strong brand association with your business. Branding remains an effective marketing technique always. They also make or break your business and will spell the difference between profit and losses.