Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Branding: Value vs long-term equity?

I just read a great article by Brand Strategy Insider. And in a nutshell it discusses the problem with the commoditizing/genericizing of brands to the denominator known as Value and Price. Here is a quote:

"In today’s landscape, it’s more important than ever to differentiate your brand—to give people a reason to believe and, subsequently, a reason to buy. But now that we’ve entered an era in which price- and value-related tactics comprise a large part of many marketing budgets, how can brands avoid messaging that feels or sounds generic? "

Huh-boy I could not agree more. It is a slippery slope to go the price route anyway. You can't compete there and you know it. There will always be someone to undercut you. And what if you have been in a leadership position? Do you throw it all away for a value message that communicates desperation and no longer leadership?

So there are a number of ways to "get around" this problem when trying to talk economically responsible language without killing your brand. Ways that seasoned marketers and agency pros already know and understand. Like the following:

You have to find your "Value Voice," as the Brand Strategy article puts it. And try not to specify price. Instead stay in that brand voice and tout the obvious reasons to believe that you can offer a value without losing quality. Or find a back door into the conversation. Like Hyundai did with their "if you lose your job, we'll take your car back." Which also removed the RISK. Another issue people have right now, regardless of price. This applies to B2B in big ways, too. See below:

What if you are a biotech company offering a new testing system? You have cred, but now need to get in the value game. Well how about touting that your equipment isn't just better, but for the price, you actually can test twice the amount of product you could with other tests. So see, you didn't lose any of your brand leadership. Be smart. Be creative. Be careful saying the words value and price.....Be careful with what is now trite: More for less.

Harrods has sales, but they NEVER lose their high-end appeal. They use celebs to tout the event. They keep it upper-crusty.

So yes, we all get it that marketers want to, need to, sometimes play the price/value card. But be careful when you do and be ever thoughtful as you execute that strategy. And never lose your brand equity or position in the process.


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