May 8, 2018: Dominating the news this week is the massive deal Nestle made for the rights to sell Starbucks coffee, paying a whopping $7B for the rights to sell the coffee in grocery stores worldwide.
And it’s not like Nestle isn’t capable of making coffee—in fact, they are the world’s leading coffee manufacturer using the Nescafe name.
So, why would they drop such a large amount on buying the rights to sell Starbucks? It all comes down to branding.
Starbucks has built brand equity that far exceeds Nescafe in the US. Frankly, it's not because the quality of the coffee dominates Nescafe—it’s because Starbucks has built an iconic brand over decades that is synonymous with exceptional products and selection.
And yes, while that’s an example outside of the tech industry, it demonstrates the immense value that branding can bring to an organization.
What branding is (and isn't)
Branding is not slapping your logo on everything in sight, or picking pretty colors that complement your logo.
Branding is the culmination of your mission, vision, core services, core values and key differentiators demonstrated in a consistent and valuable way to the marketplace.
Most importantly, your aspirational brand should convey how you stand apart from the competition—it should demonstrate your unique position. And, branding involves both key messaging AND consistent design assets.
Branding in a commoditized or highly competitive market
Since 2010, there has been an explosion of SaaS solutions, as well as the vendors that support them. And more vendors = more competition, which creates some chaos from the buyer’s perspective.
In a highly commoditized market, branding can serve as a key differentiator. Because branding can convey trust and experience, it can be what sets you apart.
For example, brands like Apple and Microsoft have worked diligently over decades to ensure that their brands are synonymous with trust and the highest level of expertise.
Branding while releasing a new and innovative product
If you have an entirely new or innovative product, branding can help communicate value which may not be inherently known to the buyer. This is especially true in tech, where users might not even know what the technology product does because it’s the first of its kind.
In these cases, branding can emphasize not only only what the product or technology does, but how those features relate to solving a problem or pain point for the buyer. And after all, people don’t buy products…they buy solutions to solve problems.
Branding when you have just a few key competitors
In a landscape with a few identifiable competitors, you can use your competitors’ branding as a groundwork for building your own unique branding.
Starting with a competitive analysis focused on branding, you can identify the features/solutions that your competitors tout. From there, you can emphasis different features in your branding and key messaging. Or, if features don’t widely vary, you can use your competitor’s branding and messaging as a starting point, and strive to take it a step further, or make it hit home in a clearer way for the buyer.
Branding as a focus for the first time
It’s not uncommon for tech companies to be so caught up in the innovations and product that, by default, the product becomes the core of the branding.
The problem with this is that organizations can be tempted to lead with a feature of the product vs. the overall feeling or solution that the product or technology provides.
Revisit your current branding
So, if you haven’t taken a concerted look at branding within the last five years, now may be a good time to see if your branding is relaying the message you want to convey.
And, if you need a partner in that branding refresh project, we’re here to help. We can work with you on the strategy behind your brand, and even give your brand a facelift or overhaul!