Brands, like people, can find themselves undernourished. Traditionally, brands were fed on the ‘Four P’s’ of marketing which set out the premise that if your product was simply placed, priced, and promoted in the ‘right’ way, then job done. Marketers have grown wiser over the years to understand there is a bit more to it. At the very least, we can add a few more ‘P’s to the plate to include: promise, packaging, performance, and people. I confess to once lecturing on the ‘Forgotten P’s of Marketing’ where I managed to get the ‘P’ count up to a couple of dozen. Even ‘planet’ could be added to the mix given mounting environmental pressures on brands today.
Certainly, ‘P’s can be a useful way of structuring a marketing plan (I happen to like ‘Ss’, but that’s another article). However, and with alphabetical preferences aside, all the structure, scientific rigor and best logo designs in the world will not automatically turn a generic product or business notion into a ‘brand’. Critics tend to call that lazy marketing. Fit marketers, on the other hand, have a refined capability and a special knack for going beyond the marketing mechanics in order to develop very special and long-lasting relationships between their brands and their customers.
There are some special qualities healthy brands enjoy as a result of good marketing.
Such brands are characterised as:
Beneficial. Brands must be committed to being advantageous and helpful to people. The worth of brands, such as EBay or Tesco, rises as a direct consequence of such usefulness. Brands must work hard at being more than just affordable, they must be truly valuable to customers. To accurately define their benefits with meaningful value, brands must know their consumers, their competitors and themselves inside and out.
Reliable. Brands rely on the power of the trust that exists between them and their customers. Brands, such as Boots or Kellogg’s, work hard to earn customer trust every single day and can be depended on to deliver their benefits to people continuously over time. As a result, the brand-customer relationship strengthens, trust builds, and the brand enjoys increasing levels of profitable return business.
Authentic. Brands should be founded on originality and truth. They should be the heartbeat of the organisation and safeguarded as its most precious business asset. The values, beliefs, and intentions of brands, such as Harley-Davidson or John Lewis, are genuine and transparent to customers. They tap in to their origins as a foundation for trust and as a basis for bonding with customers in a powerful and real way.
Noteworthy. Brands, such as Apple or Nike, keep up with the times and the changing requirements of their customers. They maintain a dialogue with their customers that is interesting, stirring and worthy of attention. To do this, they are obsessed with understanding their customers’ passions and desires. As a result, they are always in touch and able to demonstrate leadership in the face of modern challenges.
Distinctive. Successful brands understand what sets them apart from their competitors and go beyond just trying to be acceptable. They want to be preferable. They have a clear, compelling, and differentiating promise along with a unique character, personality, and style that reflects that promise. Distinguished brands, such as Coca-Cola or Disney, are highly disciplined in carrying out their promise across everything they do.
Sustainable. Brands must be viable for the long haul, doing good things for people in the communities where they conduct business, with minimal impact on the environment. Brands, such as BP or Toyota, have durable propositions that can withstand or adapt to changing market conditions. They must keep giving customers reasons to come back and they must work tirelessly to get customers to elect them every single day.
Brands perform at their full potential when senior management of the organisation believes in the brand and understands that marketing it effectively is critical to business success. They engage the entire business (all levels, all functions, all suppliers, all partners) in delivering the brand strategy. Finally, they are committed to marketing as a professional discipline. They surround the brand with well trained and experienced talent who can truly nurture it with the passion it deserves.