Friday, June 27, 2008

The Power of Branding (Part 2/2)

Dear Wingman,

Is “branding” a valuable information-providing tool for consumers, or a tool by which firms persuade consumers to pay premiums for goods that they don’t really need?


William B.

A brand provides a guarantee of reliability and quality. Consumer trust is the basis of all brand values. So companies that own the brands have an immense incentive to work to retain that trust. Brands have value only where consumers have choice. Think back to the last time your mobile phone dropped a call, either you kept blabbing for a a minute before you realize the person you called stopped giving you the obligatory, "uh huh," every other sentence. Well whatever mobile phone provider you have, you've always been promised a very good network.
  • "America's most reliable wireless network" - Verizon Wireless
  • "The country's largest and fastest digital voice and data network" - AT&T
  • "The largest voice calling area and the largest mobile broadband network" - Sprint
  • "Stay connected across the nation with America's Largest Network" - Alltel
When your competition is touting the same or similar features in their brand, what are you going to do to differentiate? Here's what some of these companies did:
  • Verizon Wireless has been conducting ongoing field testing, and that they've been pounding into our heads for the last several years, "Can you hear me now? Good!"
  • AT&T Wireless is actually not the old AT&T you grew up with. SBC (who owned Cingular Wireless), bought out the old AT&T Wireless business, and changed all those old customers to Cingular customers. After SBC completed the acquisition of the rest of AT&T, they strategically changed they rebranded it as "the new AT&T." It created some confusion to some with all the name changing, but ultimately, AT&T is a stronger and longer known brand, and they wanted to leverage that. Strategic partnerships with other great brands like Apple and their iPhone also helped boost their own brand.
What do people think of when they think of your brand?

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