Ask any consumer what brand value is and most will mumble something or other but rarely answer. But ask them why they purchased a luxury branded bag and they may respond with “the quality is good,” or “the designs and fabrics attracted me.” However, the true reason why people buy most products – especially luxury goods – lies in the power of branding and creating brand value.
Brand value. This simple two-word phrase is absolutely vital for your fashion business.
What is branding?
Branding is the process of creating a particular design, symbol or name that is immediately identifiable to consumers and sets that brand apart from their competitors with a consistent theme that builds a loyal customer base.
Successful branding means that an opinion or emotional thought comes to the consumers’ minds when they recall a certain brand. These opinions and emotions are often formed through personal memory with a product, the functional benefits that the product provides to them, or the way they feel when a purchase is made from that brand.
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What does brand value mean to consumers?
Marketing mavens of past and present believe purchases are made – and future customers are secured – when the values or feelings that a brand exudes creates a satisfying connection between consumer and product. This is the essence of brand value.
The characteristics associated with a brand allow a consumer to express himself or herself, or an ideal self, by purchasing their products. This is because the brand expresses values that the consumer already has or that they wish to possess.
How to increase brand value
Nike is the perfect example of why branding is such a valuable asset. According to Brand Finance, the world’s leading independent brand valuation and strategy consultancy, some of the biggest names in its “Most Valuable Apparel Brands of 2017″ list include Nike. By ranking higher than luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, the question arises as to what ‘valuable’ truly means.
Nike does not produce products with expensive leathers and luxury furs, so brand value does not necessarily mean highly-priced goods. That is not to say that a portion of Nike’s brand value cannot be attributed to the quality of their products. The majority of their value comes from more than just leggings that won’t show sweat stains – it comes from Nike’s brand attributes such as accomplishment, strength, and determination.
The desire to connect with a brand’s personality dominates the desire to buy a product just because it’s a popular colour or fabric.
Nike is only one example of this, companies worldwide have made connections to consumers via branding – think of what a Happy Meal means to a Western child and/or family – and if it is done successfully, it is like a happy marriage. And, that is more valuable than any number of sales, because it means longevity: repeat sales, a strong clientele base, striking envy in your competitors (wanting to do better is healthy in business after all), and the good word spread that your product is awesome, which is all the stuff you need to build a business on.
Do I have to brand my small business?
Yes, branding is the reason why a mutual satisfaction exists between company and consumer. It is the reason why customers can be trusted to be faithful to you and not to your competitors.
Building a strong story, great products and a company ethos that you and your team value, go a long way to securing life-long interest in your brand.
But this is a commitment and – like a good marriage, some might say – it should never be handled with complacency. You need to constantly invest time in ensuring that your brand is doing what you said it would. That might include anything from regular team meetings where the brand values are addressed or recited to a note on the label of your product.
Whatever it is, there’s no room for underperformance, as consumers don’t HAVE to spend their money on your product – it’s your job to make them WANT to spend money on your product.
Ways that your business can successfully demonstrate brand value
1. Treat your brand like a person
Ask yourself: if the brand were alive, what personality traits would it have? The brand could be fun and lighthearted like Betsey Johnson, or perhaps regal and poised like Alexander McQueen.
Whatever the case, create a list of at least five personable traits that not only accentuate the product but embody how you want the brand to be perceived. As you brainstorm, think about making a lasting first impression when consumers are introduced to your brand so they will be intrigued to get to know it better.
Humanise it as much as possible. Give it a 360° personality. After all, no one likes shallow!
2. Be sure of the target market
Who you sell to is just as important as what you sell, so determine a target market – the specific demographic of consumers – that the brand should attract. This is called building a Perfect Customer Profile
Ask yourself: What kind of people would my brand hang out with? Come up with a few points that are not too broad, as the true values of your brand could get lost in the chaotic market – trying to please too many people at one time never ends well.
It is easier to stick with a niche group of people that have a desire for your product, and to cater to their specific needs, rather than targeting a large group of people with varied needs.
Narrow the focus by using age ranges instead of just ‘young people,’ or describing what kind of job your customer might have, instead of just saying they may have ‘x amount’ of disposable income.
After the target market is discovered, conduct research and learn what their daily schedule or normal habits might include; potentially you can figure out what your target market might want before they’re even aware they want it, therefore making it easier to convince consumers that your brand is an essential addition to their everyday lives.
3. Put a face to the name
Images aid consumers in making connections with brands as it creates a mental picture. This is why almost every business has logos or specific colour schemes that represent their brand. Think about what yours represents – for example, a solid logo represents a solid brand foundation.
Your brand’s logo communicates with consumers when they see it, so make sure it is present in promotional materials, packaging, and via social media outlets.
Ask yourself: if my brand were a person, what would they look like? What physical traits would they have? And so forth. Once you’ve decided on this, choose someone or something to be the face of the brand, so that consumers can decide if they relate or connect to this person or concept.
Although most established businesses have the ability to choose celebrities for endorsement, you can still increase your credibility with a compelling advertising campaign.
If you’re on a budget, find a person who physically fits the brand description, take an afternoon and a camera, and have fun discovering what the new look of the brand will – or won’t – be.
4. Be patient
As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait, and the same is true for building brand value. Rushing the process with frequent promotions or repeatedly changing prices to attract attention from consumers can have the opposite effect and interfere with consumers’ ability to trust a brand.
Focus on the brand itself and the long-term profits that it will bring if you take the time to nurture it and grow with it.
5. Be consistent
Once customers connect to a brand and are satisfied with the personality they have discovered in that brand, consistency is KEY.
If consumers feel that the personality they once knew and that attracted them to your brand initially has changed drastically, they might not only desert the brand and seek more stable ‘personalities,’ but they might spread negative publicity.
Change is necessary at some points as trends continuously shift, and time causes inevitable change, but keeping the core brand value solid and consistent is key for successful branding.
As the saying goes – “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and neither can brand value be bought or created in a hurry.