Friday, December 10, 2010

Branding Your Competition

Branding your competition, is that right????

We recently wrote about branding your competition as a way to make marketing work for you. Several people have asked us to say more about this as it seems so counterintuitive.

Branding is essentially the image that is created in the minds of customers or potential customers that will cause them to act in a certain way. Done correctly with solid support from what is branded, it can produce higher margins and is extremely valuable. Branding is created either intentionally or unintentionally. Customers and clients do develop a point of view and you may not like what they develop. Therefore, it is important that you work to create the correct image for you and your brand to the greatest extent possible.

Companies spend significant effort and resources to create a positive brand image. Clorox liquid bleach is essentially sodium hypochlorite solution. The generic house brands at supermarkets are also sodium hypochlorite solution. But, in the minds of consumers, Clorox is much, much more. In fact, Clorox works with many retailers to help them promote their bleach as the low price alternative, leaving Clorox as the premium priced (and premium margin) choice. Generic pharmaceuticals are mandated by the FDA to be identical in efficacy and safety to the branded product. Yet, people continue to insist on having their prescriptions filled with the brand name and pharmaceutical companies foster that attitude with their promotional messages to both doctors and patients. Some brand companies actually manufacture the generics through a subsidiary.

In both of these cases and many more, companies are effectively establishing the quality image in the minds of their target audience.

So why would you want to spend any effort on branding the competition? Negative advertising and promotion generally is not very effective. Reflect on the political ads last month for proof of this. However, making a positive statement about your competition and “slotting” them into a limited position in customers’ minds does work effectively. If you can select for your customers where and when they choose your competitors, you can also set up the times and places they choose you for more advantageous sales. You can define the basis of comparison in a manner that you win.

Here are some examples of how this might work. Southwest Airlines has said, “United and the other big carriers let you select your seat in advance. You can even pay for upgrades to get better seats. With Southwest, we keep prices low in part, by letting you choose your seat as you board the plane. Any seat. It also lets us leave on time. Plus, we don’t charge for bags.”

In golf, Titleist says, “Our balls are not the least expensive. They are what the pros play most because of distance and control. A little bit extra cost will give you better performance and isn’t that what you really want?”

In consulting, there are some very prestigious consulting firms. They are large, expensive and take a long time to complete their projects. But they are good, right? In fact, there is a saying that nobody ever got fired for hiring them. However, there are consulting firms that have the same level of expertise in their senior people, have lower overheads, are more flexible and faster and don’t use your dollars to train junior people. Branding the big firms here is relatively simple.

In all of these examples, branding of the competition takes place. There are many, many other examples. You have had fixed in your mind an element or two about the brands and it should provide a favorable position for you.

Let us know if we can help you create the right branding for your company and products and how to make it competitive.



John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management
View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn

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