by Lance Parman
Where exactly does a brand come from? If one is going to set about discovering and defining their company's brand, where should he begin? Far too often I see businesses start with market research.
Are you the top dog in your industry? Category leadership is an enviable position to be in. Most of us spend a lot of time and energy watching, imitating, and competing with the leader. We try to provide a better product or service hoping to sway the customer's loyalty to our brand. Ironically it's often a futile exercise. Because there can only be one top dog.
Being the best doesn't always mean you get to be first. There are plenty of examples of companies making a better product or delivering a better service than the industry leader. Yet customers seem to be unchanging in their loyalty to the number one brand. Why is this true? An important factor to consider is that the leading brand in any category is almost always the first brand into the prospect's mind (Coca-Cola in cola, IBM in computers, Hertz in rental cars). And because they are the first brand in their category, they earn a place of leadership and credibility in the consumer's mind that is almost impossible to change.
If you aren't the leader in your category, the best strategy is to create a new category where you can be first. If history proves that being first in a category is the best way to become the leader, then find a new category.
How exactly do you create a category for yourself? It begins when you stop talking to your customers about what makes you “better,” and start talking about what makes you “different.” Finding and communicating your company's unique brand is the first step toward owning a niche or category for yourself. A place where your competitors can't touch you. A place where you can be the top dog.
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