Creating, developing, and maintaining one’s brand is important not only in the sector of luxury goods but also for virtually any company, whether in B2C or B2B area.
According to Paul Feldwick (2002), a brand is “a recognizable and trustworthy badge of origin, but also a promise of performance”. On the one hand, a brand helps a product (or a service) stand apart from the competitors, allows the producer (or provider) to charge a price premium, and results in repeat purchases and cross-selling/up-selling. But on the other hand, it also serves as a guarantee of a certain level of quality and contributes to a constructive relationship between a company and its customers.
Therefore, owning a strong brand equals to owning brand equity. In marketing, brand equity has the following elements: perceived quality of a branded product and customer loyalty, as well as share of mind (recognition of a brand) and share of heart (trust and positive view of the brand).
What these models have in common, is the notion that brand identity is a complex entity, incorporating not only the product or service in question or the brand as a symbol but also less tangible aspects, such as brand personalization and brand culture/values.
It is important to remember that brand building should occur not only externally (through advertising or brand endorsement by a famous person), but also internally (literally through living the values one’s brand dictates).
In other words, a customer’s contact with the brand occurs the moment an employee answers his/her phone call or the moment he/she steps through the doorway of an outlet, or the moment a product or service is being consumed. Thus, employee training and constant quality management are just as important as investing in fancy ads or creating a nice logo.
Companies with valuable brands are also known for having strict quality control procedures (mystery shopping at McDonald’s), careful managing of end-customer sales channels (Apple Stores), timely responding to the market trends (Google’s innovations) and implementing CSR (Starbucks’ Fair Trade products).
Loving your brand means sustaining a positive and balanced relationship between the brand, the product, the company and the external and internal stakeholders (including your employees, your customers, your investors and so on).