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Tom Marin

Building Brands

By Tom Marin

About Tom

Tom Marin is the managing partner of MarketCues.com and provides corporate and brand strategy to organizations of all sizes. He has an extensive background in the graphic arts, printing, publishing and media industries. Marin is an accredited member of the national and international chapters of the Business Marketing Assn., is a (CBC) certified business communicator and a past marketing chair of the Chicago chapter.

 

Six Ways to Prevent Brand Diffusion

 
DiffusionWhen was the last time you analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of your brand? Your brand marketing and overall brand equity is something you have build up over many years. Below are six areas of focus that can uncover hidden risks and relevant opportunities to recharge your brand in its respective marketplace.

Have you ever noticed that when money is high, think power tends to be low, but when money is low, think power goes up? It’s human nature. The storm is often at its worst following a victory.

For example, Company A launches a new product that really takes off and sells way over its intended projections. Everyone at the company is excited! This feeling of success permeates the company, but left unchecked, it can create a false sense of security. Slowly but surely, innovations lag because the pervasive belief is “we’re invincible!” Then the inevitable hits. Company B comes out with a totally new product that outshines Company A’s product, driving down its brand value and related sales.

How quickly this can happen. Can you think of a few examples? How about AOL, which was replaced by Facebook? Or print-only suppliers being displaced by cross-media providers? We could go on and on, but I don’t wish to offend any particular company.

What is most important is that you look to new innovations that will continue to define your company in its marketplace while driving new revenues. That’s the game we’re all in, and here are a few ways to ensure you stay competitive.

Strategic Advantage:
Does your company “own” a specific differentiator that sets it apart from all of its competition? If not, then a company with a new product could easily set itself up as the “next generation of XYZ” and quickly displace your position.

Manufacturing companies often rely upon a set of product features and benefits, whereas professional services firms lean on their proven track records to distinguish themselves. This sounds good until you recognize that the features and benefits and the track results all have a sameness about them and do little to differentiate the companies.

An improvement is to find one big benefit that only your company offers and build your brand on that. Less is more!

Competitive Tracking: What does your competitive landscape analysis look like today vs. just three years ago? Do you track your competition’s brand positioning, brand messaging, brand differentiators? If not, you open yourself up to being outsmarted even if your marketing budget is substantially larger than your competition.

The newcomer always tries to outsmart the big guys because it can’t outspend them. Facebook did this in the early days of viral marketing. Today, Facebook has 750 million users. At AOL’s height it had 30 million.

Brand Category: How many segments are you attempting to market your products in? Often, lagging companies can shore up their top-line revenues and bottom-line profits by simply moving out of marginal markets they have stayed in for too long. It may mean cutting some ties and dropping some products, but if the overall corporation is better served with fewer products and fewer markets, then the choice may be obvious.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM):
This area of customer development remains a stumbling block for so many companies that have not invested in getting to know their customers. Yes, the sales staff knows the customers, but what about all of the other parts of the company that interact and intersect with customers? Do they have the tools necessary to really serve a customer’s individual needs? The better your company can do this, the better able it will be at serving buyers.

Cloud Computing:
Have you invested in cloud computing services and offered them to your customers? If you haven’t, you are opening yourself up to a competitor that will. And because technology costs have decreased dramatically in the past few years, more companies are able to access these services through APIs for very reasonable investments.

Your Culture: What shape do you find your company in today? Are people positive, upbeat and anxious to offer their suggestions and hard work? Or is your company suffering under negativity of lagging sales performance, weak customer relations and an altogether difficult economy. Do you have time to try and even change your culture?

According to the New York Time’s bestseller authors of “Change the Culture, Change the Game,” if you don’t change your culture, it’s unlikely you will be able to achieve the business results you are working toward.

And lastly, have you encouraged your core leadership team members to do the unexpected and to offer any insights they have even if they are not in agreement with the company’s current mindset? It could mean the difference between an improved or diminished brand value.

Tom Wants to Hear Your Branding Issues:
If you are a printing company or product/services company serving the print-media market and would like to be considered for a feature in this blog, please contact Tom Marin for an interview.

Follow MarketCues on Twitter for branding and social media tips, as well as the latest trends. Tom also welcomes emails, new LinkedIn connections, calls to 407.330.7708 or visit www.marketcues.com. How can he help solve your branding issues?
 

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