Brand management and keeping the brand advantage

“There’s someone for everyone”. We’ve all heard that, right? Tinder’s 57 million users must certainly think so. It’s what keeps them swiping and hoping. Huge emphasis is on getting the profile, and critically the photo, spot-on. They know it’s important to stand-out from the crowd, to be unique, special and appealing, because “personal branding” can be the difference between a match or continuing singledom!


A Personal Brand

A 21st century phenomenon, the term was first coined by Tom Peters in 1997. As humans we’re intrinsically unique; scientifically our DNA and, to the naked eye, we at least look quite different. Factor in then special and defining characteristics such as personality, intellect, sense of humour, career, prospects, etc. and there are endless ways we can single ourselves out to get noticed.


Your Business Brand

Not quite so straight-forward in the commercial world. If you’re new to the market with a revolutionary idea or a technology first, you have a built-in differentiator and a great chance to make an impact. Think Uber, or Airbnb. No immediate competitor, no brand-imitator. At least for a while.


But what about businesses who offer much the same as many others around them? If you’re Starbucks, how do you compete and win over Costa? McDonalds over Burger King? HP over Lenovo? How do you keep a customer coming back for more and choosing you over a like-for-like competitor? When there’s little difference in the offering itself, the brand is the gamechanger, the killer advantage.


Keeping the Brand Advantage

Much is written about marketing trends and there’s always “noise” around the latest channels, platforms and tools.  Less so for brand management trends. That’s not to say that brand managers can rest on their laurels, it’s just that when it comes to brand strategy businesses recognise it’s too critical to simply chase the latest fad or flavour.


Working with big brands gives us insight into what the successful ones are doing. We’ve noticed that these four areas are where they’re focussing their attention:


  1. Technology

Winning brands are always on the look-out for and ready to evaluate new technology. It doesn’t necessarily mean they embrace it, only if it’s likely to add anything to the brand value or the customers’ experience.


  1. Customer Data

However large or small the business, its consumers are not a homogenous mass. Even in a B2B environment, customers/buyers are constantly changing. Having clean, accessible and meaningful data allows the brand to continually reassess its relevance and value to customers.


  1. Customer Journey

How and when customers interact with us is determined by them. Online, offline or face-to-face. Ensuring their “path to purchase” is smooth and, even if should it change direction, without obstacles, means that brand superheroes are always striving to trace and simplify that journey.


  1. Being “First and Best”

While early-adopters get noticed, the rush to get past the post means they can often fail. Doing things first, but also well (and indeed better than the competition) means recognition for all the right reasons. Branding superstars obsess about both speed and quality of the customer experience.


In an age when the decision to swipe left or swipe right is taken lightly, often based on emotion and gut-feel rather than consideration and deliberation, brand management is tricky. Keeping abreast of what’s new is important but, as Alice Temperley says, “You have to stay true to your heritage; that's what your brand is about.”


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