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Jan, 01 2008

The power of a brand

Starbucks certainly didn`t invent a cup of coffee. But they made a special niche in the coffee house space. Nothing is new and unique anymore - but the way you do it could be. To compete head on with large and successful enterprises may not make sense

As marketer and consumer alike, we are always looking for the next big thing. Easy said than done, we will create or we will design the next big thing but how would your target customer feel about your product and more important how would your customer think about your brand.

For many company, branding is rapidly becoming the new business imperative and understand that brand is the ultimate driving force behind the business. The company intellectual property is the most important asset to the company. It is a guide, a guarantee for performance, standard, and quality for all the people involve with the brand.

A brand has a number of attributes, emotional and rational, intangible and tangible, that create value for the company, its shareholders, its employees and the consumers.

When you talk about `Starbucks` you think not only about the coffee at the Starbucks but the people behind Starbucks, the management, the employees, the suppliers, the customers, the environment and even the experience etc…

True financial value can be derived from the brand; it has an inherent value that is comparable to traditional tangibles assets like plants, machinery and human resources. And like any other asset in the company, if a brand is properly managed over time, it will generate greater returns for the shareholders.

To build a brand that has a deep sense of belonging and emotional attachment takes time and of course the know-how. And in each different industry there is different combination of element that makes your brand stand out. With these combined elements you can bond with your customer that is commonly known in the industry as `Brand relationship`. Building a brand-customer relationship is about everything that a company does over time that will create a perceive value in the mind of the consumer (that is why company spend million and billions of dollars on media and PR to capture and increase mind share). Don`t forget that consumer are bombarded with unaccountable brands each day, and products are ever increasingly available so the only way the consumer can identify the product or service that they desire and want to associate with is the brand. The `brand experience` will encourage and affect the consumer to lean toward a brand that they trust if that brand consistently delivers.

Has it ever occurred to you that many products around us are manufactured and market under licensed? Most of the branded eyewear, watches, apparel, perfume, skincare products, and many other consumer products are produced under licensed. In other words you enter into a legal binding contract with the owner of the brand and you pay a sum of royalty to the owner of the brand and you leverage on the brand power to market your product.

Creating a brand and building from scratch take a lot of commitment, planning and investment and possibly years of consistent effort to achieve any kind of recognition. The cruel reality is that for every successful brand, there are thousands that struggle and eventually fail.

Many companies had ventured into creating their own brand and have ambitious goal but to the end only realize that they had run out of resources to continue pursuing the brand building process. Don`t forget that you are not the only brand in the market and that is why there is no stopping to brand building, you have to constantly update, upgrade, innovate and invest. It is a never ending process, the minute you stop is the time your competitor will have the opportunity to gain more mind share.

While the growth and success of a brand is largely due to maintenance by the company which not only brings the brand to life but also control its development, licensing can help the company to grow and expand more rapidly.

Licensing

Licensing offers an immediate entree into a social class in the mind of the consumers. They offer a way of setting one`s self apart from, or alternatively fitting into a particular group. Most importantly for marketer, consumer perceives the incorporation of a famous property on a product as an assurance of quality. And all this create a connection that makes a consumer want to buy.

A strong brand also brings instant consumer awareness and appeal, it allows the licensee to enter new market, new products, and new channels, increase sale, and increase profit, increase shareholders return and most importantly create a substantial and sustainable differentiation with your competitors.

Licensing is often seen as a 'marketing tool'. It is used to connect and capture the emotional needs with the consumer. Exploiting the brand in a good way is capitalising on an opportunity that the consumer perceives. Many consumer buy products because they want to be associated with the status, the desirable characteristics, the life style, a sense of belonging, a trend, performance or popularity of the property that is attach to the brand.

To sum up, a brand is about living up to your promises. Whether you should build your own brand or to leverage on establish brand is for every company to think and study their industry, their company structure, their resources, their marketplace and their target consumer.

But one thing for sure is `brand will live in the mind of the consumer.

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