When it comes to marketing your business, you already know that brands are some of the drivers in consumer focused product marketing. However, while it may seem obvious that your company should be branded, the reality is that several factors can affect whether or not a brand strategy is the best model for your business. Because of that, we want to take a closer look at how and when branding is a good idea.
What is Your Business Model?
Before you can even begin to think about how to brand your company, you need to have a solid working business model. Without this crucial component, it will be almost impossible to develop the parts necessary for a well thought out brand.
That being said, your business model may not even be suitable for branding in the first place. Let’s look at an example to illustrate what we mean.
If you’re a company that manufactures dress shirts, as in the feature image by David Bartus you have two routes that you can take when it comes to branding. Also, keep in mind that these options are not mutually exclusive (i.e., you can do both if you want).
Option one is selling your shirts directly to the consumer; you make and package each item, which you sell to retailers, through your own stores or online. In this case, you will need to brand your business so that customers can identify your shirts from the others on the shelves.
Option two, however, is to make shirts for someone else. In this instance, your client’s brand is what’s going on the hang tag, so your company logo isn’t as important. You can make and package shirts for Nordstrom, Kroger, Target – or white label shirts further so individual boutiques can label the shirt with their brand. You can also serve a variety clients, but that doesn’t disqualify you from creating your own unique shirts with a specific brand, logo and marketing as well.
Overall, if your business model and revenue driver is to make things for different clients, building a brand isn’t as necessary as it would be when selling to consumers. However, do keep in mind that you want some kind of branding to market your manufacturing capability to new clients. This would be a B2B brand, focusing more on capacity, safety, efficiency, materials, technology – whatever provides benefit to the business that will ultimately market the apparel you make.
Commodities vs. Products
Another element to consider when trying to determine when to brand your business is the kind of things you sell. Typically speaking, you will either sell a commodity or a finished product. A commodity is a raw material or a basic, undifferentiated product. Examples of raw materials include iron, crude oil, granite slabs, gravel. A manufactured product can become a commodity when any manufacturer can buy the equipment and make a similar product. Cereal flakes, potato chips, oatmeal, facial tissue, peas, lumber, pens, shirts, socks and pencils – these are manufactured, but, when undifferentiated, behave in the market as commodities.
If you deal in commodities, then branding won’t be as much of an issue, since the material itself will be the primary selling point and because buy and sell prices of commodities fluctuate based on demand. As long as you can stock and move the product and there are ready customers willing to buy, product will move through the marketplace.
If you are selling small quantities of finished products, though, then you will need to focus more on branding. This is because you will have to illustrate other aspects of your business, such as product quality, customer service, design acuity, or a unique shopping experience.
What Differentiates You From the Competition?
One of the best reasons to brand your business is to help you stand out in a crowded market. If you already have a unique selling point, then now is the perfect time to build a brand that reflects that. Here are a few examples of what can set you apart from your competitors.
- Proprietary Product Design – you’ve developed something different from all other similar products available. Your design may be more convenient, more reliable, or more durable than others.
- Added Product Value – your product may be similar to others in the market, but you’ve added a feature or benefit that creates even more value to the customer.
- Better Service – while the products you sell may be identical or similar to the competition, your service model goes above and beyond, inspiring customers to come back again and again.
- Enhanced Shopping Experience – in this case, visitors don’t come to your store for the products, they come for the atmosphere. Your storefront offers a unique shopping experience that customers can’t get anywhere else.
Overall, once you determine your selling point, that should help you develop a brand. You should incorporate elements of your company’s value into the brand so that customers will recognize what sets you apart immediately.
What if You’re Not “Brand” Ready?
If you’re a company dealing in commodities, you may not be brand ready right away. However, if you do want to break away from your commodity and create a unique business model, you might have to get creative. Here are a few strategies that can help you get ready for branding.
- Find Alternative Uses for an Existing Product – many consumers may not be aware that a particular product can be used in a variety of ways.
- Create a Demand for Repeat Use of a Product or Service – repeat customers can build your bottom line faster than anything else. Find a reason for them to come back for more.
- Extend Sales to a New Region – increase your market share by expanding to new markets.
A great example is the growth curve of Urban Outfitters Inc. From their start retailing used clothing to growth as a wholesaler and ultimately differentiation of sub brands Anthropologie and Free People and more.
As a business, you can decide when it’s right to focus on manufacturing versus e-commerce and retail. The decisions come from reading the market, understanding consumer wants and demands, and that should be at the root of your business and branding decision process.
Contact Green Vine Marketing Today
Branding can seem a bit complex at first, but if you have the right tools and strategies in place, it becomes an engaging and creative process. At Green Vine Marketing, we understand what it takes to develop a strong branding message for companies of all kinds. See how we can turn your business into a recognizable brand today.