I’ve recently been involved in discussions about brand. Some hold their brand with very high regard, and others dismiss its value and importance very quickly. In my tenure in business, I’ve always been in the first group. Please do not mentally check out here because you think don’t you have a brand. We all have a brand, even if it’s our own personal brand.
So what is a brand? It’s the image or characteristic someone gains when the brand is presented. For instance, if I say Rolls Royce, people might say “quality,” “expensive,” and so forth.
In today’s world, brands are very valuable. They’re also thrown around and wasted at an alarming rate. If you don’t see the value in brands, think of this example. Around 2006, Ford Motor Co. mortgaged the brand. The Ford oval is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. They actually went to the banks and opened credit lines for future borrowing based on the value of that brand and other assets. The reaction in the industry was obviously highly critical. No car company had ever done that before. Many said it spelled the end of Ford. Fast forward to 2009, the mortgage crisis brings to all of us the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. Car companies are hemorrhaging money and there is NO money to be borrowed at any rate. Oh, except the guys who leveraged their brand. They could get dollars when no one else could, all thanks to the brand.
Brands are built over time, and it’s no accident. They have lasting value that goes on for years. They need to be protected like they’re gold.
I recently needed a group of parts for a repair. It was a group of parts that are almost a commodity in today’s environment. There are many suppliers, and it’s an extremely price-sensitive segment. I pulled up my options on an e-catalog, and there must have been 30 possibilities. I ended up buying by brand…the one I grew up selling at Shriber Auto Parts years ago. The cheapest? Absolutely not! Actually, it was a premium-branded product. It was a differentiator for me in the decision process.
The smart marketers today realize the value in their brand and continue to build it every day. Distribution entities have even launched their own brands. Some have reached pretty high regard in the marketplace. Good products, good value and excellent brand support is what it takes.
If you’re responsible for a brand, even if it’s your own, pay attention. Consider what the market is going to think of your decision about your brand. Build your brand over time, and you’ll have increased market value.
Brand: it matters. Protect it and build it.
S. Scott Shriber is publisher of Counterman.