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The basics of building a brand

Adopting a brand is one of the first things that an entrepreneur should do
By Entrepreneur Staff |

You have a product. You know it’s good and consumers stand to benefit from it. Now you just have to launch it in the market. You’ll need people to notice and buy this product. You need a brand.

Some business owners argue that a good product is all that’s needed to win customers. But in a market where consumers are constantly bombarded by promotional noise from a multitude of other products, an entrepreneur may need more than just a good product to get in. He or she will likely need a symbol or a name that could elicit more than just a passing interest in that product.

Indeed, marketing experts say that adopting a brand is one of the first things that an entrepreneur should do when going into business, and they insist that a strategy for developing that brand must be spelled out in detail in the business plan.

In other words, if you put your heart into building a strong brand, customers will be much more likely to seek out and buy your product—and become loyal to it.

What, precisely, is a brand?

Most people confuse a “brand” with the brand name or logo given to a product or service. But a brand name—even Coke, Microsoft, or Niké, which are among the world’s most well-known brand names—is not a brand in itself. A brand is more than just a name. As Karen de Asis, chief brand strategist and learning officer of MKS Training and Consulting, defines it, a brand is “a summation of all the perceptions and impressions a consumer has of a product, borne out of the experience, exposure, contact, hearsay, and word-of-mouth that surrounds the marketing of a product.”

Indeed, not all products or services with brand names become brands in the strict sense. For a branded product to truly become a brand, de Asis says, the product or service that it stands for must have already succeeded in conveying “strong, familiar, and positive associations among its targeted consumers,” and these associations can only be achieved if enough time and resources have been invested to develop the brand.

Marketing expert Paul Temporal, in his book Branding in Asia, says a successfully branded product or service has two constituent aspects: features and attributes, and emotional benefits. Features and benefits are the tangible aspects that are meant to satisfy the rational needs of consumers. Emotional benefits are the psychological values of the product that are developed in the consumers’ minds—the intangible ways by which consumers come to prefer one particular brand simply because they can “connect” to it.

De Asis explains this psychology behind brands: “You will be surprised to know that certain brands have benefits generic to the category. This means that all players in the market are on equal footing in being able to deliver on that benefit. Yet even if they are priced higher, the strongest brands in the category often get the biggest market share. That’s because those leading brands have been the most successful in talking to their consumers and in letting them know who they are.”

The importance of brands simply cannot be underestimated. With today’s fast-paced lifestyles, says Temporal, consumers like branded products because branding makes it much easier for them to differentiate one product from another. All they need to do is look at the brand names. When pressed for time while shopping, for instance, they can just pick their favorite brands from the shelves without thinking. Brands offer quality assurance and value for money, which is also the reason why most consumers are hesitant to try new but untested brands.

This article was originally published in the January-February 2007 issue of Entrepreneur Philippines.

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