Social Media Strategy and Branding: What Are the Eight Functions of a Brand?

A world class brand has 8 functions. It is critical to understand these functions to create a world-class brand. In a New Media Age, a marketer must have a solid understanding of branding. Social Media is a god send for a marketer. In order for this great tool to work, a marketer must be able to drive customers to their brand, at the exclusion of all other brands.

The great part of social media is its incredible scale. This is also its greatest drawback. In social media there is just so much content. People have to come to your product for social media to work—and this is why branding is critical.

The eight functions of a brand are IDENTIFICATION, PRACTICALITY, GUARANTEE, OPTIMISATION, BADGE, CONTINUITY, HEDONISM, AND ETHICS. Let me briefly summarize each of these functions.

A brand clearly identifies a product and clearly explains why that product is different than the other products in that market space. Simply, a brand is the thing that sets a product a part from all other products. It helps a consumer make sense of an offer. Simply, the brand will identify a product for a consumer. A brand will act as a lighthouse for a consumer, shining a beacon in their eyes, in order that they will know what products to select in a flooded marketplace.

Products and brands all have a “story”. With so many products in the marketplace, a consumer needs a mechanism to explain, in simple terms, what a particular product is, and why that consumer should select that product. A brand saves time and energy for a consumer. People know that this is the product they want at this time. On a hot day, after a hard day’s work, a consumer wants a place to regroup. Where do you go. You go to a building that is clearly marked (branded). You go to this building because you know that you can sit down a relax in this building. Over a long series of touchpoints, the product has assured you that sit in this building a enjoy this product.

A brand guarantees the product. The brand communicates to the consumer that if the product doesn’t work out as expected, the money or the product will be replaced.

A brand creates an image for a consumer. It creates a badge. The use of this brand communicates to other people that you are “successful”. A certain car is used by successful businessmen. Other cars might more sense, economically, to buy, but this car conveys “success”. If you drive this car, the brand gives you a badge.

Brands create a sense of satisfaction and trust. They create continuity. A bank’s symbol conveys that it has been in business for 200 years. If you bank there, the brand tells a consumer that their money is safe, and in good hands. When you buy a house, and there is a hurricane, a certain insurance company puts you in good hands. Brands a create friendship with customers in the social media age. This creates a relationship. It is relationships based on friendship that motivate a customer to buy.

Brands are hedonistic. The relationship between a customer and a product creates a friendship that leads to enchantment and attractiveness of the product. The hedonism of a brand creates loyalty. To create this enchantment, logos, theme songs, and phrases are created that communicate the experiential rewards.

The satisfaction that the product brings is linked to responsible and ethical behavior. This responsibility solidifies the relationship between the product and consumer and creates the long term relationship that leads to brand.

Some brands have succeeded in proving with their slogans that they know and understand what their fundamental task is: to transform the product category. A brand not only acts on the market. It organizes the market, drives a vision, creates a calling, and develops a clear idea of what the category is all about. Too many brands wish only to identify with the product category. In social media, products and consumers create a two way friendship.

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The Case for Positioning Versus Branding – Online Marketing

How do Brand and Position co-exist? Have you ever considered the difference in the two words and their impact on the success of your company and its product offerings? These and other online business ideas support these articles.

Marketing campaigns that don’t have the expected impact can be traced to a misunderstanding of market dynamics focused on branding, when the primary focus required should be Positioning. Brand and Position can be considered different sides of the same coin or like the old cliché’; “One hand washes the other.” Without placing Positioning first, brand value is not long-term, because the position is where a brand’s fundamental difference lies. Think of positioning as the purpose or the reason for being in business.

A branded campaign without a positioning strategy is like throwing your money to the wind. Said another way; most companies wouldn’t launch products without utilizing market intelligence and data, yet it’s surprising how many manufacturers fly blind folded with their brands, not taking into account that their market value will ultimately be placed at risk.

A basic mentality to understanding the difference between Position and Brand is the example: Brand is the “sizzle”, and Position is the “steak.”

Branding done solely on its own merit creates awareness, where the objective is for the market to get to know you. The simplest approach of Branding is to trigger an emotional response from the consuming audience trying to choose amongst thousands of product comparisons. For commodity products where the price is the most obvious differentiating feature in a saturated competitive field, too many marketers choose the easy way out with heavy promotion and price reductions to win sales volume. Sadly it is not usually the most profitable strategy as price has its day, but the consumer is still left with inherent questions and these will affect long-term decisions that eventually erode the brand’s value and longevity in the market place.

The quadruple threat facing those marketing in today’s world is:

• Saturated Competition

• Hyper options in choices

• Communication overload – white noise

• Price

Countless marketers, all with their own set of propositions, are competing for the same resources, Time, Attention and Money, the typical consumer has available.

In any category, the glut of choices offered is paralyzing. Recall the last time you stood staring at the many options available at the shampoo aisle. Is it any wonder we now have evolved into a condition called Choice Anxiety?

We are bombarded daily with over 4,000 messages and over 400,000 message units (individual pieces of information) thrown at the average American consumer. With so much “white” noise, the risk of your advertising not being seen is exceedingly high.

That is the key reason Positioning has to be defined and utilized, which is the carving out of a sharp focal point around your most competitive difference and planting that Difference firmly in the minds of your prospects. Dare to be different, as it counts for so much, but truly define why you are different then everyone else in the same category.

Don’t try to create a place in the world. Do not obsess about your competitors and differentiating from them. Instead, start with the question – Why? “Why do we exist?” “Why does anybody need us?” “Why are we useful?” “Why would consumers pay their hard-earned time or money?” “Why is it valuable?” Bottom line, defining a sense of purpose is going to separate you from your competitors and give you the value needed from this simple tactic.

Look at how powerful Apple’s sense of purpose and delivery of highly anticipated product launches has been in creating their growth. Or how Facebook’s greatest inventions have come from its commitment and encouragement of experimental behavior among its employees. The high-growth businesses of the future will all be, defined by their purpose.

Positioning is becoming the single most powerful concept in marketing today! To stake a position means an organization, product, or service stands for one thing in the minds of the prospect consumers. What is it you stand for? and how will it drive your market?

If you remember the sales analogy used many times over the years about steak and its sizzle. Positioning is all about the steak. Branding is about the sizzle.

Positioning is about establishing the inherent value offered by the company or product, while creating a mindset that inferentially implies the inherent weakness of your competitors in comparison. Positioning aims to define that essential point of difference you can own, to ensure consumers really know why they want your products or services over others. As the prerequisite tactic for strategic branding, positioning becomes the foundation for all brand communication.

When your Branding automatically follows your defined Position, the result of the branding effect is so much clearer in attaching the difference of your market position to your brand name, so that the name and the idea become basically one and the same.

Examples: Wal-Mart = Cheap prices. Porsche = Performance. Kenmore = Dependability.

What makes Positioning a long-term marketing advantage, is that it focuses on the most advantageous competitive difference you offer the market. Example: Redken Labs established its difference in the shampoo market, as the company supporting beauty through science in a category where everything else was just bubbles in a bottle.

Hallmarks of Positioning

o Uses core truths and competitive landscape to set the long-term direction for your brand.

o Recognizes all the P’s of marketing: Product, Price, People, Priorities, and Place, organizing them within the context of a single pervasive strategy.

o Builds trust and loyalty among your consumer base.

o Improves cost efficiencies for optimal return on investment.

o Solidifies what to do, and what not to do.

o Builds on itself by Building brand equity and establish-ing goodwill.

o Goes to the heart of the purpose. Stand for something or you will fall for anything.

o Establishes a clear set point for the continued develop- ment and evaluation of all marketing strategies.

In closing, a marketer has to be completely vested in what their understanding of current market dynamics are and utilize information that supports the difference between their Branding and Positioning strategies to impact their bottom line long-term. To initially misjudge the strategy to use in effective marketing campaigns, can and will have long-term impact to their brand in particular. People today want to know what you stand for philosophically and what you are willing to do to meet their needs. Without a strong positioning strategy, ultimately the brand will be hurt and with today’s countless choices offered to the consuming public, can be the catalyst to the demise of the brand.

Return On Branding Investment – ROBI

“What will be my Return on Branding Investment?”

“Why should I invest in Branding when I can get same results by hiring more salespersons?”

It’s the salesperson that actually cracks the deal and keep the stone rolling. I totally buy-in your point, but at the same time I cannot underestimate the power of Branding. Branding is the differentiating factor between your product & the product of a xyz company.

Once you are established as a brand then your salespeople don’t have to fight to create a visibility space for themselves. Branding is responsible to deliver leads and shorten the sales cycle to generate revenue at a cost and risk in line with other investments that a company might make. Calculating ROBI is really tricky, first you need to understand that it’s a once time investment & you gone reap the benefits of that for a long time to come. To understand the benefits of branding you need to look at the bigger picture.

Once you established as a brand, your Marketing spending will decrease or in other words return on marketing investment will increase. Branding is, and always will be, a creative endeavor. If it’s executed properly then it can drive your sales,you can market your product at a premium price. It just sets you apart from the crowd and that is what required in the today violent market place where new product & service are being launched almost daily. Choice is yours; either you can always remain in the battle field, remain uncertain about when a new company product replaces you & throws you out of the business, or create a permanent place for yourself.