Why Brand Matters: Selling by Brand Alone

“It is written, ‘One must not live on bread alone…'”
— The Bible

I’m not one often prone to quoting the Good Book, but I do often think of this particular passage, which appears multiple times in various forms.

Brand is one of those elements that does not stand alone. It is an influence, an inspiration, a detraction, an element. Brand is a portion of the equation that goes into the purchase process for every consumer.

Brand can be overcome, whether the implications of a brand are positive or negative. But brand is powerful.

Think of bread when you walk through your local grocer. For which loaf do you reach? Is it the same brand as the one your mother purchased when you were growing up? Is it the healthy choice someone recommended? Is it the latest commercial? Are you choosing based solely on price?

Chances are you just reach for that familiar brand and don’t even glance at the other several choices.

Brand has you firmly in grip.

Even if bread doesn’t happen to be one of the items where brand reigns supreme, any trip to the grocery store and a walk down the aisles will have most people not even studying their options. Each chooses most items based on brand loyalty.

What If…

As discussed in the earlier entry on Brand Basics, branding can be encapsulated into these basic steps, illustrated here:

Keep in mind that this is a process. One cannot feel unless one can recognize the brand, and likewise cannot react without feeling.

As marketing professionals, we all do some form of research. Results from research provide insight into a market, but I like to take it a step further to help illustrate the impact of brand — a way to help others understand why brand matters.

I call it the 100-person problem.

In this hypothetical, 100 people are making a buying decision based solely on brand (all of the following numbers are made up for the purposes of this blog entry; no real data is used). I like to provide an illustration so it feels a little more concrete than a pie chart or a bar graph. Like this:

Take your research and determine what percentage of people actually recognize your company or product brand. I’m rather liberal, so respondents who guess the general arena, I’ll consider it correct.

Let’s say that 60 percent of people recognize your brand. We end up with a graphic like this (the blue ones remain while the red ones are “out”):

Now we need to determine how people who recognize feel about your brand: Positive, negative or indifferent. Generally, the results of this have an interesting bell curve with a majority indifferent and minorities feeling different degrees of positive and negative.

Let’s be generous: 20% feel positive, 5% negative and the remaining indifferent. First, the negative people need their mind changed on your brand, so they’re not going to have a good reaction (meaning make a purchase at some point down the line) so they’re out. Let’s get rid of them:

The indifferent people need their brand perceptions influenced to feel something, so they’re not going on to the next step. They’re out.

At this point, a dozen people are left with a positive impression. Those are the ones with potential excitement to have that gut reaction.

The level it takes for an effort in a change depends completely on the brand and the offering. The question to ask is how many would be in the market for the offering at a time. Knowing that number would help make an informed decision on what percentage of people would be prepared to make the choice of your brand at that moment.

If you’re not familiar with a particular statistic, you can always ask. Generally it will break down into three groups:

  • Not in the market and won’t be in the near future.
  • Not in the market but will be in the near future.
  • In the market now.

To make it simple, we’ll break this all into thirds.

What conclusions can you make from this?

Based on brand alone, 4 percent of the market will make a purchase immediately (in blue) and 4 percent more will likely make a purchase in the future (in yellow). Timing all depends on your normal sales process.

Depending on the size of your market, these might be good numbers or these could be disappointing.

Nonetheless, the point is illustrated how a brand with greater recognition and positive feelings can be a stronger influence in the overall sales process.

Sales does not occur by brand alone, of course. But the influence of brand is substantial.

Published by

Michael Cheek

With more than 20 years of communication experience, Michael Cheek offers solid marketing expertise, especially in the digital frontier. He currently resides in Georgia but he's open to relocate anywhere the opportunities take him. Learn more at http://MichaelCheek.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/MichaelCheek and see more about his professional experience at http://LinkedIn.com/in/MichaelCheek. Reach him via e-mail at mcheek@gmail.com.

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