Archive for December, 2007

Brand Development and The Value of Case Studies

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Brand development is, quite simply, the evaluation, construction and maintenance of your company’s brand. There are a lot of approaches to brand development. Some are better than others. Your company’s brand is essential in differentiating yourself from your competitors in the marketplace. The goal of brand development is to built customer loyalty; poor brand development will inevitably lead to failure.

The first and most important aspect of brand developing, is realizing that you have a brand, and need to be conscious of your brand and its development. Many companies are surprisingly haphazard about this, and have disjointed or unbalanced marketing plans that fail to focus on defining and strengthening the brand.
Speaking of brands, you’ve heard of Harvard Business School, haven’t you? One of the things that revolutionized Harvard Business School and turned it into the premium brand of business education was its shift from vague, abstract theories to real-world based case studies of actual business and management success stories. This approach can be useful in developing your brand.

Are there brands you trust? Would you, for example, buy an iPhone without bothering to compare it to competing phones? If so, then Apple is worth looking at as a brand development case study. The rise of Apple, like a phoenix from the ashes after the return of Steve Jobs to the fold, is one of the great success stories in branding.

Looking at personal computers objectively, it’s hard to see them as anything but a commodity. Sure, some are better than others, but most people will buy according to which computer offers the best combination of performance, reliability and price. That’s how commodities work, isn’t it? Yet in this vast sea of un-differentiated, commodified personal computers, Apple stands out as a beacon of successful branding.

How did they do it? Firstly, when Jobs took over, he took a hard, honest look at Apple’s position in the market. The company’s zealous pursuit of profit margins, lack of clear brand message, and lack of concern over long-term atrophy of their market share was steering them toward a disaster in the long run. Once a serious competitor to Microsoft’s hegemony, Apple was losing market share at a rate that would suggest a strong long-term prospect of extinction.

Jobs assessed Apple’s market position, strengths and weaknesses. He took a look at who Apple’s loyal customers were, and developed the brand accordingly. Apple’s tremendous success is a story of brand development. He created a brand that would appeal to Apple’s core customers and grow from there, distinguishing his products from those of other companies as much through branding as through genuine differences.

To better understand the real-world impact of brand development, don’t stop here. Think about what products you trust and rely on, and do your own case studies. Do you like Starbuck’s coffee? Then that would be an ideal case study for you to learn from. Choose case studies based on branding that has been effective on you as a customer in your further studies in brand development, and you can’t go wrong. After all, if you want brand development to work for you, you should understand branding that has worked on you.