Everybody understands a business brand is important. It ultimately defines how potential customers think of your business. A brand reflects the overall impression of a business across its potential customer base. In the past businesses had a modicum of control over their brand, they could label and promote their brand through various one way marketing mediums. TV, print and radio are still interrupting peoples lives delivering a one way message. The advance of the internet and smartphones is changing the way we make decisions and how a brand is defined. Potential customers and existing customers will now define a brand. Online reviews and social media provide a vast platform for feedback (both positive and negative) which will define a business brand. A business brand is more likely to be defined by how people feel about your business than by what is promoted. For us that begged the question: What comes first a recognized brand or customer growth (which defines a brand).
Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Ferrari, Sony, The Gap and Nokia are all recognizable brands. Did they grow to be recognized by their or did they grow from brand recognition? Here is a review of the history of Ferrari. Ferrari launched the 125 S out of Modena, Italy. It was the first car to carry the Ferrari name. The earlier 815 was built by Enzo Ferrari in 1940 but did not bear the Ferrari name. Ferrari built their reputation (brand) on the racing circuit. Ferrari were extremely fast and this was absolutely the definition of the brand. Enzo Ferrari was renowned throughout his life for his distaste of customers. He felt they bought his cars for prestige not the cars performance. By 1969 Ferrari was in enough financial trouble that a purchase of 50% of the business by Fiat was necessary. Fiat took control of road car sales and their marketing was more in line with the pre-defined “prestige” brand.
Brands or Customers
Enzo Ferrari wanted his cars to be recognized for performance. Car buyers bought for the prestige of the name. This is a classic case of brand misalignment. It also shows that a brand (even in 1947) is defined by the perception of the customer base. Our brand is not necessarily defined by us, it is more defined by our customers base. That doesn’t mean there is no requirement to have a fundamentally solid approach to how your business will operate. Here at Turn The Page, we have chosen to focus on results and extraordinary service. Within our organization their is a continuous focus on providing this to our clients. Is this our brand? We believe it may become our brand if we continue to provide results and extraordinary service to our growing client base. It could also be that our brand alters as we grow. Ultimately our customers will define our brand based upon our performance for them.
In conclusion, its our position that branding does not grow business in the early to middle stages of the business cycle. In general a brand evolves from how business success is achieved. Now more than ever a brand cannot be driven, forced or promoted by the business itself. It will be defined by the way the business serves its customers and how the customers define the brand. Not vice versa.