The term product branding first emerged in the late 1960’s. In its most basic form, branding means to promote a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand. But, branding itself has a deeper, more intricate, connection with a company than most people even realize. It is the bridge that connects company to product and in turn, product to consumer.
Well executed product branding can help a company gain market share for a specific product or service. But, knowing how to properly achieve this, let alone which approach to take, can be somewhat of a challenge. Here are some tips to help clear the fog:
1.)Know your niche: Do you know where your product (or service) is compared to the rest of the market? If not, figure this out first. The foundation of a great branding strategy starts with knowing where the starting line is. Next, decide where it is that you want to be. You need to know how far away from the finish line you are. This will help determine whether to run an aggressive, moderate or passive campaign. If you’re already almost to the finish line, don’t back-peddle. Keep doing what works, with any appropriate changes.
2.)Take the vow: When consumers see branding, they see promises. The link from consumer to product to company can be strengthened or weakened according to brand value. Consumers will associate and apply all aspects of a certain product to your company. Therefore, if product “x” fails on keeping its promise (of reliability, value, etc.), then the end user could draw the conclusion that the company will fare the same way.
3.)Branding is highly contagious: Word of mouth is still the number one form of communication when it comes to opinions. Product branding will do no good, and could be potentially harmful, if your image does not accurately reflect reality. If I love your ads but have heard from two other people that your product doesn’t hold up, I won’t waste my time or money.
4.)Timing is critical: Competition can kill even the best product branding campaign. If too many fish are in the pond, consumers will look for frogs. Be the first frog out of the water. You can always go back later once some of the other fish have died off.
5.)Don’t brand just to brand: Not everything lends itself to branding. Some products or services are simply too specific or unique to justify branding. If you are the only company selling trips to Mars, build your reputation (and assets) first. Later, if competition arrives, you will be better suited to brand however you then see fit.
6.)Easy does it: Sometimes, product branding can have negative effects. The purpose of branding is to tie only your specific product to only your name. Occasionally, when a new product arrives on the market, a branding campaign links all like products to the biggest, most well-known name. Think Kleenex instead of tissue or Ipod instead of Mp3 player.
If done effectively, product branding can increase a company’s market share and profits, while building a long-term relationship with their consumers. Seek unique advertising and do your research to maximize the benefits of branding. But, remember branding should be viewed as a serious commitment, not a quick fix.