Why bother with branding? / by Greg Monaco

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“Branding is a hope wrapped in a desire inside a fantasy.” writes Jonathan Salem Baskin in Branding Only Works on Cattle. Jonathan’s line could come from most anyone though. Branding is one of those practices that sees as many doubters as believers.

If questions on branding’s veracity still exist, why even suffer the trouble to brand your company in the first place? After all, it takes time to brand. It takes energy. It takes money.

Why not just pour it all into sales?

I believe the case for branding comes down to one choice: Do you want to build a sustainable business? Or do you want to build a transactional business? The answer to this question will help to reveal if branding is right for you.

Take, for example two products that are nearly identical in physical make-up and performance. Could be two different lawn mowers, two different mobile phones, two different pairs of jeans—the product doesn’t matter. The company that bothers to brand will work like crazy to turn people into a fans. The company that won’t bother to brand will work like crazy to turn a sale.

Those who want to build a sustainable business understand that all the fuss of branding is worth it to "de-commoditize" their product or service. Perhaps better said: Companies that bother to brand are manufacturing scarcity—creating rare, one-of-a-kind experiences that create believers and fans.

Converting people into fans warrants a premium, which means fans are willing to pay a little bit more to be part of a curated brand experience. Fandom also creates loyalty which is a runway of sustainability for a business.

Conversely, the unbranded company is only interested in a transaction. Loyalty and fandom doesn’t matter. Search Amazon for most any electronic gadget and dozens of companies that make the exact same product pop up.

What do you do with a screen full of random, anonymous logos that sell the same thing? You compare price. That means—absent of brand—price becomes your market differentiator and deciding factor.

It’s exceedingly difficult to build a sustainable business on price alone. But that's OK if you'd rather build a transactional one.

Image courtesy of Christina Morillo www.christinamorillo.com