Is Your Brand Leading or Lagging

leading brandsHave you ever asked yourself why one company got to be so large and successful and another didn’t? Both companies may have offered the same type of products and services and yet one excelled in the marketplace while the other had difficulty after difficulty. Why?

This past week, while writing a section for a brand engagement on Brands in Their Markets, I was very impressed by a major difference between leading vs. lagging brands. In this particular engagement, we found that the leading brands consistently kept their brand promises (or exceeded them), whereas the lagging brands routinely break them. In our business, that’s called positive vs. negative equity.

Sound too simple? As you might imagine, there are many ways to build a leading brand. Here are some time-tested ways:

1. Always meet or exceed your customer’s expectations. This seems so obvious, yet so many companies fail to live up to their stated mission and promises.

A quick example might be from a local printer that promises “Quick turnaround of your projects” and consistently delivers projects on time or before. This is a printer on its way to earning a strong brand position. Conversely, a different printer in the same market that consistently blows customer deadlines will earn a negative reputation.

Hint: It’s easier to build a strong brand position from scratch than it is to overcome a negative one.

2. Be transparent. If you make a mistake, admit it quickly and correct it. Customers do not want to hear excuses; they want answers and appreciate candor and quick remedies.

3. Always listen to your customer. Two easy ways to listen are to continuously ask your customers “How are we doing?” and “Are there any ways we could improve our service to you?” You’ll never go wrong fulfilling your customer’s requests.

The marketplace is glutted with brands and, as everyone knows, we are in a down economy. Now is an excellent time to evaluate where your brand is in the market—leading or lagging?

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