Bloomberg BusinessWeek recently published an article by Larry Popelka titled “The Key to Success? Your Corporate Mission.” It investigates the particular case of the Chevrolet Volt and it is perfectly summed up by one line: “Most consumers no longer shop for products. They shop for a company.”
What makes people crave for that Ralph Lauren Polo rather than the Tommy Hilfiger shirt, the new iPad/iPhone over any Android device, that bottle of Moët & Chandon rather than Veuve Clicquot or, as the writer above argues, the Toyota Prius over a Chevrolet Volt? There are definitely enough arguments to rationalize the desire, but whether one admits it or not, an established brand makes it that much easier for a company to sell their product.
That is not to say that establishing a brand in itself is an easy task. There is a reason why most major companies have a Marketing department. It reaches well beyond the (often) cheesy ads on television and on billboards. The job these people have at hand is to create a brand identity, an image the targeted customer can identify with, an illusion that their customers are somehow part of a distinguished community that purchase those products.
The number of times one checks their phone because they heard someone else’s iPhone message alert is ever increasing, yet their owners still feel special, like they are somehow different for having an iPhone. And that is precisely what consumer goods companies try to achieve.
So how does one go about creating that identity? The simple answer is that one needs to stand out in the immense number of companies out there. But that’s a bit general and not all that useful.
First off, the name is one the most important aspects of creating a brand. Joining together the four last names of the founders might be a good idea for a law or financial services company, but unless your last names have a particularly catchy sound to it, try to avoid it. The last thing a start-up needs is people not being able to refer to it simply because they are unsure about how to pronounce its name.
The logo. The simpler it is, the better it is. Trouble is that the shorter and more basic the design brief, the harder it is to actually design one. While it can certainly change along the way, as many companies such as Starbucks, Mazda or Apple have (if you haven’t yet, please do check out Apple’s original logo), the logo should instantly scream the name of your brand. A Google search for “logo design” should offer more than enough options to suit anyone’s needs for any time and price range.
The importance of a good website cannot be underestimated. Anyone can get a decent-looking one up and running with a basic template. If your Computing friends at Imperial refuse to help, there are plenty of people out there willing to do the job for a relatively small fee. It’s one of the most common, yet easiest to avoid, aspects of a business that will get people to turn the other way. A perfunctory website suggests a shady company, and we’ve all avoided buying things off certain websites simply because they don’t inspire much confidence.
Creating a brand is no easy task. And it certainly isn’t limited to the few aspects outlined above. Some might even claim maintaining one is even harder. To the entrepreneurs out there, it is often one of the most challenging aspects of starting a business. It is often said that it is not the idea, but rather its implementation that makes a business and a good realisation of an idea can avoid becoming obsolete only if it is well promoted. It is a combination of management, marketing, accounting and innovation that makes a business thrive and establishing a brand is surely the aspect that is most easily overlooked and yet essential for a successful venture.