Are you battling imports and losing market share? Has your product become an “unplanned commodity” as your sales negotiations with customers more and more revolve around price rather than value? Is your marketing team launching new products that support your brand and differentiate your company in the marketplace? Do you even know what impression your brand is making on customers?
These questions resonate within so many companies because the leaders of those companies continue to build their strategies only within the walls of their corporate headquarters and continue to view a brand primarily as the purview of their marketing departments. This internal, one-dimensional view of a brand — which is ultimately more wishful thinking than reality — cannot possibly maximize the impact of the brand on strategy or on the marketplace. Leaders have to help their companies adopt a three-dimensional view of their brands in which the company’s conversation across all levels and departments, and its conversation with customers and various other constituencies, help dynamically to co-create brand identity and strategy. To differentiate the company and garner competitive advantage, there must be a transition from mere brand consciousness to consistent brand articulation and brand behavior, both inside the company and “on the street.”
In the past, a customer’s primary link to any brand was through marketing and sales. Yet, most companies spend their time teaching their salespeople, customer service people and even marketers how to sell products, not brands. Most sales-people have been taught to sell intuitively based on the customer’s reaction to the following three things: product (how well it meets the buyer’s standards for price, styling and quality), relationship (what level of trust, past history and integrity has been built between buyer and seller), and performance (how good is the company’s follow-through, problem solving and customer service).
In fact, salespeople often sell everything but the brand. They will sell on the basis of price, delivery, product quality, features, benefits and warranty, but seldom do they speak to what the brand means to the buyer in terms of lifestyle, experiences or emotional connection. However, that often-missing aspect of selling a brand is crucial to the future success of more and more organizations.
For example, DeWALT is selling more than power tools to end-users, it’s selling and associating itself with the image of NASCAR by sponsoring races and holding some of its “DeWALT Experience” product expositions at NASCAR events.