Brand Marketing: The Power of Reputation

A brand is defined as a name, term, sign, symbol, or design that is intended to identify, and differentiate a company's products and services from those of its competitors. A strong brand will help a company deliver a clear message to their target market, connect emotionally with prospects, confirm the company's credibility, and motivate the buyer to develop a loyal, and mutually beneficial, relationship with the company. To create a strong brand, a company must understand the desires of their market, and incorporate those into their message.

While a business can't control everything a person feels or perceives about their company, there are many powerful ways to influence those beliefs.

Brand marketing really occurs in the mind of the consumer. It is here, not in the advertising department, where the brand of a company is created. Every interaction a person has with a company helps shape their image of the company brand. It is, quite simply, a sum total of all the experiences and perceptions that a consumer has in relation to the company.

While a business can't control everything a person feels or perceives about their company, there are many powerful ways to influence those beliefs. The first is to have a clearly defined message and image, which is consistently displayed throughout all of a company's marketing materials.

The message a company uses to build their brand should be based on input from their target market. (The target market should be narrowly and fully defined as well.) The message should resonate with prospects and connect with them emotionally. It should embody how a company wants to be seen by their market.

This message should be consistent, and should also factor into all the decisions made by a company. For instance, a company whose brand is based in part on being environmentally conscious shouldn't throw away their old printer cartridges and buy new ones. Every little decision, no matter how small, should be a true reflection of the company brand.

Along those same lines, every experience a customer has with the company should help strengthen the company image, not damage it. A company that prides itself on quality customer service, for example, shouldn't have a customer wait on hold for 20 minutes only to finally be greeted by a rude employee.

With the rise in online social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, a customer has even more ways to interact with a company. These sites create a much more personal level of communication and, if handled correctly, can create a much higher level of trust and loyalty than traditional marketing. Here too, the message should be consistent and in line with the company brand. It should also meet the needs of the online community, and not be self-serving in nature.

A company brand can be one of the most valuable assets a business possesses and should be treated as such. As competition increases and the battle for consumer loyalty intensifies, a strong brand is needed to stay viable in the marketplace. It's important that companies take the time to research, define, and build a memorable and unique brand that represents the company's core competitive advantage and promise to its customers.