MetroWest Chamber: Branding Bites

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By Larry Gulko


FRAMINGHAM – When you think about it, Ralph Waldo Emerson pioneered the concept of Brand Marketing back in 1840. His philosophy focused on being a leader, embracing disruptive innovation, breaking through the marketing noise, and delivering an amazing customer experience. His mantra, “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Now, isn’t that precisely how to create a winning brand? Go where there is no path and leave a trail. Focus your brand, engage in bold and disruptive thinking, embrace innovation, create your unique ‘Brand Voice’, capture mindshare, hone in on delivering a compelling brand promise, create a new product category or dominate your category and become the best-selling brand in your market segment.

 GoFundMe is online fundraising
 Zumba is fun & fitness dance party
 Fresh Express is packaged salad to-go
 FedEx is overnight delivery
 Mont Blanc is designer fat pen
 Titleist is #1 ball in golf
 Domino’s is delivery
 Swatch is fashion watches
 Tide Stick is detergent on-the-go
 Q-Tips is cotton swab
 Alpine Lace is low-fat cheese
 Duracell is long lasting battery
 Purell is mobile disinfectant
 OpenTable trail is online restaurant reservations

Each of these brands is laser-beamed focused, known for one thing. They own something special in the customer’s mind, are driving brand preference and customer loyalty to new heights and building business value.

What word(s) do you own in the customer’s mind?

Successful brands are not simply great marketing campaigns – they are great business stories. Take a deep-dive, fresh look at your business. Develop new game-changing ideas, strategies and messaging that target a mindset, communicate your distinctive value proposition, and emotionally connect with your customer to drive brand engagement. Make your brand a great business story! Make your brand “their brand.”

Authentic Gestures Resonate Big Time

Many brands focus on the rational attributes of their brand and fail to create an authentic brand voice that emotionally connects, resonates with the consumer and embodies a meaningful conversation. Brands need to focus on the emotional connection that truly drives brand engagement, enhances brand loyalty, and propels growth to the next level. Amaze and delight your customers with remarkable brand experiences and you’ll create legions of raving fans (customers) and brand ambassadors who’ll ‘live and breathe’ your brand.

When you dial in…a brand is the result of a thousand small gestures and the sum of the customer experience is the lever that creates the brand. It’s our job as marketers – “brand champions” – to intimately know who our customer is, understand what really moves them and create brand experiences using every encounter and interaction a customer has with our brand to showcase why we’re the best-selling brand in our category.

You have the opportunity to fashion your company’s culture where everyone is involved, everyone is fully engaged, and everyone is a player. In today’s rapidly evolving and ever-changing competitive landscape, this customer-centric perspective is of paramount importance.

Treat your customers like best friends – earn their trust and respect.

Drive Brand Performance & Customer Loyalty

To attract, retain, and build your most profitable customer relationships, you have to genuinely treat your customers like they’re your best friends. Because they are! Best Friends for life…Customers for life.

Marketing is storytelling. Period. Engage your customers in a meaningful conversation that is authentic, emotionally connects, and truly resonates to ensure they feel ‘your brand is their brand.’

Own your product category. Invent new ideas to break through the ‘marketing noise’ to capture mindshare which will drive market share. In today’s ever-changing competitive landscape, it’s of paramount importance to be recognized as an amazing NAME BRAND…not simply as a brand name.

Embrace bold and disruptive thinking if you seriously want to win the marketing war. Be a trend spotter and trend setter, identify opportunities to unlock new markets which in turn will create legions of raving fans – new customers who will love and respect your brand.

Consider this scenario…What if your brand was out of stock? Would your customer…

 Wait until your brand becomes available?
 Travel to another store to buy it?
 Simply purchase another brand instead?

This is quite telling – it reflects a brand’s moment of truth…and speaks huge volumes to real brand differentiation and customer loyalty.

Going Beyond The Bland

Discussions on brand strategy in member-based organizations are often focused on management delivering familiar comforts and what has always been/worked and not on moving the needle in today’s rapidly evolving competitive landscape. There’s a world of difference between a bland offer (living in the sea of sameness) and delivering a distinctive brand offer which effectively positions your brand unlike any other in your product category.

Building a leading brand that people love and respect requires an effort more than simply creating a cool logo, tagline, ad campaigns, website, social media. Rather, it’s about creating, inventing an authentic ‘brand voice’ and delivering a remarkable emotional experience that laser-beam aligns with your brand voice. An experience that resonates big-time, emotionally connects and embraces a meaningful conversation.

I recently delivered a keynote at a golf industry summit. I shared with managers of golf and country clubs the paramount importance to take a deep-dive exploration and identify what it is you’re really selling. I asked them to think about ‘What’s your WOW factor’? It’s not the 18 holes of golf, pro shop apparel, grille room dining, member-guest events, golf lessons. Every golf and country club offers this. It’s what’s expected when you drive up the long and winding road to the clubhouse. That’s rational. Not emotional. Each club’s brand essence is known for something much more grand!

Successful brands understand that customer intimacy isn’t the aspiration, it’s the foundation. The sum of the customer experiences creates your brand. How are you choreographing your customer experience to ensure your staff believes in it and your customers revel in it? What are you doing to establish an authentic point of difference between your brand and others in your space? How are you enhancing loyalty and increasing the average lifetime value of your customers? Are you delivering on your brand promise day-after-day to build trust and create legions of raving fans?

Remember: It’s one thing to attract new customers like fishing; but it’s another to retain, nurture, and grow your most valuable customer relationships.


Larry Gulko is the founder of BRAND: NEW DAY. He is a brand architect and strategist, executive coach and growth advisor with a track record for positioning an eclectic range of brands to compete more effectively in today’s rapidly evolving and ever-changing business landscape.

Editor’s Note: SOURCE and the MetroWest Chamber have formed a partnership. The Chamber’s column will run on Tuesdays on the digital news media outlet.


email: call or text at 508-315-7176

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