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Brand Identity: Are you Building Yours?

9 May, 2005 By: Ray Meifert imageSource

Brand Identity: Are you Building Yours?

When you think about great brands, what comes to mind? Perhaps, Apple comes to mind or maybe even Dell?

What about your business? Are you giving any thought about your own brand identity? Believe it or not, you do have a brand identity—accidental or planned—that your customers perceive with every transaction. And chances are that at least some of your competitors are thinking about their own brand identities.

Branding is no longer just merely the domain of large, consumer goods companies. For those of us in the document technology business, branding has emerged as some of the most enduring and important assets a company can own. At Katun, for example, we’re paying more attention and devoting more resources to branding than ever before in our more than 25-year history, and we consider it crucial to sustaining our position in the market. 

Copier and printer dealers are also realizing the importance of branding their businesses—and with good reason. A couple of factors have combined to heighten the importance of brand identity:

There are dwindling opportunities in our industry to compete based only on product differentiation or other product-based benefits.

The landscape of marketing and communications campaigns aimed at customers is becoming ever more crowded, meaning that your marketing efforts need to be even more productive to be effective.

This is where a successful brand identity can help. Your brand identity is much more than a logo, a slogan or a website. It’s what your customers think about when they hear or see your company’s name. It’s the sum total of everything about your company that distinguishes you, or fails to distinguish you, from your competition. It includes the products you sell and associate with, how you position those products and your company in the marketplace, and how you look and feel to your customers.

A successful brand identity doesn’t happen by chance; it follows from a conscious and deliberate effort. For dealers, that means paying close attention to every of part of your business that’s visible to your customer.

Who you choose to do business with reflects on your brand identity, as does showing customers how to save money and the quality of the products you carry. Just about everything you do can help or hinder your brand identity. And once created, these identities can be difficult to change.

Successful brand identities tend to share a few distinguishing characteristics. Think of the world’s top brands—what do they have in common?

  • They are distinctive—standing apart from the competition

  • They are appealing in that they create a bond of identity with the functional and emotional needs of their target audience.

  • They tend to be lasting—built and nurtured over years and decades.

Companies must establish and maintain a reputation. This is based on the past, present and future promises made to all audiences, and the company’s performance in meeting those promises.

Together, these brand identity characteristics pay long-term benefits to the companies that hold them by resisting commoditization of products and services and building a platform for trust with customers. They raise barriers to competitive entries. They help businesses command higher prices and margins. In addition, they help retain and recruit customers.

The key to establishing a brand identity for your business is to review the required brand attributes of your target market and how your company measures up against them. Areas to consider include virtually every aspect of your business from product offerings and quality, to the strength of your sales team, purchasing programs and pricing, to service, warranties, support, and time to market.

Brand attributes can be grouped into three categories:

  • Base attributes - are the basics. They are the attributes required of all competitors in a category simply to be in the game.

  • Premier attributes - are those that are highly valued by customers and needed in order to compete for a premier market position.

  • Superior attributes - are those that enable a company to excel and differentiate the brand from others in areas of high opportunity.

For most businesses and industries, brand attributes are always changing. At any given time, some are being built, others maintained, and others losing significance. Tracking attributes with regard to your own brand can help you see where you need to be today, while helping you predict where you need to be tomorrow and what you need to do to get there.

These days, as competition is stronger than ever, your brand identity represents a great opportunity—and perhaps an untapped one to date—to truly differentiate your business and help to strengthen bonds between you and your customers. And that’s true for any business, large or small.


So how can you start to develop the brand identity that will help your business? Here are five general ideas to remember that will help you start to claim the advantages of a strong brand identity:

1. Clearly identify those services and products you offer to customers that are unique to your business, whether it is solutions sales, color MFPs or OEM-compatible parts.

2. Select a desired brand identity that can be delivered to the customer that focuses on these unique offerings with consistency.

3. Once a desired identity is selected, ruthlessly enforce the identity with your entire organization and customers, remembering that you cannot be all things to all customers.

4. Remember that everything you do must support the brand’s identity, from the equipment you sell, the supplies and parts you use, the technicians you hire, and so on.

5. Cease or eliminate activities that conflict with or do not support your desired brand identity.

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