Increasing market share
By Tom Dougherty
The “desired brand image” is usually the last item on the creative brief. Most often it asks that the brief’s author describe the brand in human terms such as “dependable,” “trustworthy” and the like. The intent is that these few descriptive words will influence the creative execution and make sure that the marketing and advertising message is true to the brand.
Increasing Market Share. Are You Out In Siberia?
In many ways, it is too bad that the box describing the branding strategy is located in the Siberian endpoint of the brief because it should never be thought of as a tactical afterthought. The brand, as it turns out, is the cornerstone of all the brand’s strategic opportunities. It is the key in stealing share. All of us in the brand and advertising arts who plan campaigns to steal market share need to rethink this important idea. We need to develop a fresh perspective of the brand and pay it the homage it deserves.
With an existing product or service, the brand’s personality has been cultivated over the years of the users’ experiences. They have come to rely on the promise of their own expectations as a means of selecting and making purchase decisions. To the customers, the brand is much more complex and dimensional than the two or three words we often use to describe it. To the customers, the brand is a living entity that begins to look an awful lot like themselves. Branding strategy, at the end of the day, is all about identity.
Who Am I? It’s THE Question You Must Ask To Increase Your Market Share
This realization that the essence, the heart and soul of a brand strategy, resides with the customer should sound a trumpet blast to marketers and advertisers. When you futz around with a brand’s image, you are messing with the identities of the customers. What do I mean by this? Well, quite simply, we all try to purchase services and products that help us reinforce who we believe we are.
I would go so far as to say that purchase decisions are almost exclusively emotional choices and not intellectual/rational decisions. Despite all the efforts of marketers who followed the old school thoughts of Unique Selling Proposition (USP), customers rarely choose as a result of benefits alone.
They choose based upon who they believe they are and which brands reinforce that belief best. This was not always so. When the market was less crowded and consumer choices were just beginning to mature, consumers were avidly exchanging old ways of doing things for new “more modern” products. Baking soda, like Arm & Hammer, gave ground to toothpaste (Arm & Hammer Care), for example (You can read a market study on Packaged Goods here). Consumers were hungry for knowledge and new ways of doing things. USP worked because the communication informed the consumer of the better feature. Today, USP is simply the price of entry into a new or existing category. Despite all the talk about the “cynical” consumer today, they actually assume that all the products available to them in the marketplace today work.
This realization has lead to the rise of generic store brands. The value equation for package goods marketers has been thrown all out of kilter because the customers do not consider the store brands generic. Grocery store shoppers believe all soap powders, like Tide, Cheer, All, and Gain, that are available at their local grocer will clean their clothing.
Marketers who did not realize how strongly the consumer actually associated with the brand have diluted the actual power of the brand. Why? Because a brand’s promise is a little about performance and a lot about who the purchaser believes they are. That is why, on the brief, we use human terms to describe the brand image in the first place. How important is this? Consider the marketplace for a moment. It is crowded, similar, and loud.
If you are challenged with Increasing Market Share you should know that consumers have less loyalty to the brands they buy because the brands still generally tell them what they do rather than who they (the customers) are. Once we understand just how important this all is, we begin to understand the brand’s importance in the creative brief and the execution.
The brand image is fundamental to the marketing strategy when growing market share, not an aside to it. Knowing how deep-rooted and fragile this brand identification is should influence the manner in which the brand is communicated as well. Getting noticed is important for awareness, but at what price? This means we need to have a thorough and deep understanding of a brand before we write a brief because that understanding will influence the brief itself.
When executing the message, we need to make sure the brand strategy is honored and reinforced through the execution as well. If the medium is the message, then there are a lot of loose ends to be managed as we nurture our brands.