Branding done right adds big value

Perhaps, nothing! Perhaps, millions of dollars. The answer depends on how you manage your brand. According to BrandZ, brand value contributes almost 1/3 of the value for Fortune 500 companies, or close to $2 trillion.

A brand is defined as “that which gives meaning, recognition and value to your entity.” A brand is often confused with a logo or a name. But it is so much more. It is everything the customer touches and associates with your company. From how people are greeted on the phone and how products are packaged, to the consistency of quality and the return policy, all of those things contribute to brand perception and consequently brand value. A simpler way to define a brand may be to say, “It is simply keeping a promise that matters to your customers.” What do customers think of your brand? How would they define it? How would you define it?

What are the brands that have the most value? {+} It shouldn’t surprise anyone that those brands are big companies, global and many of them digital. Brands like Google, GE, Coca-Cola, IBM, Apple and McDonald’s. They spend a lot of effort and money on delivering a consistent brand experience.

Recently we interviewed Maxine Clark of Build-A-Bear Workshop. They are oft cited as one of the best experiential and consistent brands today. She has a very definitive view of the importance of brand, and the retail concept was envisioned as a brand from day one. They designed the desired customer experience, hire employees with passion, create stores that entertain and even use “bearisms” in their language.

One of the reasons companies don’t manage brands with the same devotion as they have to inventory or budget management is that they don’t understand the value. It is more intangible. But, brands have real impact on the financials of your business.

While brands are about feelings, not facts, they make people decide things. Further, every company has a brand—by accident or design.

Brand execution determines the level of customer awareness, whether a price premium can be charged, how large a segment you can attract to increase share, and the degree of customer loyalty.

Ask yourself, “What are your favorite brands and why?” Today, favorite brands are consistent—doing what they say they will do and meeting or exceeding expectations. They almost always excel at customer service—not just give it lip service. And the culture drinks the Kool-Aid. All employees know what the brand is, why it matters and what they have to do to deliver it —whether they are greeting customers, or working in the warehouse.

Some of my favorite brands? Companies that really get it? Chick-fil-A, Southwest Airlines, and The Ritz-Carlton hotels. As you can see, it is not about price, but consistent delivery against expectations and a real desire to please their customers. Please, tell us who your favorite brands are and why?

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