We swim in a sea of commodities — cell phones, insurance, big-screen TVs, Angus burgers, airlines, banks, grocers, car dealers, etc.
Except for their names, we can’t tell most of them apart.
Why is it so difficult for brands to stand out by standing for something?
In theory, every brand ought to be chasing the ring. After all, strong brands reap huge rewards — loyal customers, competitive barriers, bigger margins, and greater equity.
And certainly, we have some admirable contemporary models of branding success — iPhone, Google, Harley-Davidson, Walmart, Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, etc.
But these champs are the exceptions. For every one of them, there are literally millions of lookalike, sound-alike brands-that-aren’t.
Why can’t they bottle the lightning? Because:
- Some managers believe branding is mumbo jumbo and dismiss it.
- Some won’t invest in it.
- Some confuse it with advertising and run “branding campaigns.”
- Some departmentalize it. They relegate branding to the marketing staff.
- Some dismiss it as “soft.” They focus instead on the “hard” tangible attributes of the brand, which are easily duplicated by competitors.
- Some believe consumers care about price only. They commoditize their brand, stripping away its uniqueness, in order to cut costs.
- Some spend their resources matching their competitors’ innovations.
- Some chase short-term results with non-stop discounts, coupons, and specials, instead of building long-term loyalty.
- Some attempt to be all things to all consumers. They fear that focusing means giving up customers to competitors. And by standing for everything, they end up standing for nothing.
- Some can’t deliver a unique brand experience consistently.
- Some may be content to follow the leader.
- Some can’t or won’t take on the daunting task of identifying the essence of their brand.
Certainly there are more reasons why so few brands succeed at brand-building. Which ones can you add to the list?