It pays to have the patience to effectively establish a brand
A couple of weeks ago, I visited a shopping mall in Dhanmondi, with the intention of buying a phone for my father.
He’s an old-school individual, so no smartphones for him, a fact that proved to be difficult for me because, in addition to not being much of a tech or phone enthusiast, I was further removed from having any idea about phones that still contained buttons. As I scanned the store, my mind inevitably zeroed in on a decision, and I asked the shop-keeper without hesitation whether he had any Nokias.
Nokia’s days as the leader in mobile phone production is now about a decade old. I cannot remember too many people who have owned Nokia smartphones, despite their attempt to recapture some of the market. However, when the question of getting a non-smart phone came up, my mind immediately went to Nokia.
This is but a small example of why effective branding is such a powerful tool these days in all aspects of life.
The concept of branding in business today is derived from the livestock branding that was used by earlier civilizations to mark their livestock permanently, so as to be able to differentiate them from all the other animals that would be in the pastures.
If we are to think about the literal act of branding, what can immediately be recognized is that it is meant to be a permanent alteration, a deep and indelible mark that, regardless of what were to happen to the overall health of the animal or whether there was a change in its environment, the brand would remain.
Branding in business today -- besides the barbaric torture that the animal goes through -- at least from the point of view of the business or “brand,” is the same.
Businesses would want their brand to be indelible, they would want to be permanently embedded in the minds of consumers and customers. Regardless of changes, brands would want to be at the top-of-mind in consumers’ thoughts.
Some brands have become so good at this that they have replaced the generic name for the product. Coke is often used as a substitute for carbonated beverages, Vaseline for petroleum jelly for lip care, Google for internet search engine -- these are three prominent examples I can think of, where the branding has been incredibly effective in establishing these products as the first name that pops into the minds of people across markets.
However, what can also easily be overlooked, and again to go back to comparing branding in business with the actual act of branding an animal, is that the practice of branding is not easy.
There is a process, and there will be certain best practices that exist. Additionally, branding is not something that can happen quickly -- it is not easy to become an indelible component in the mind of another human being. Establishing an effective brand requires time and patience, and it is a decision that will reap benefits in the long-run rather than the next quarter.
Unfortunately, this is where most companies falter, especially in the hyper-accelerated world that we reside in today. As the world shifts towards an increasing reliance on data, statistics, and numbers due to the increased demand for measurable and quantifiable components to business, it is extremely difficult to put a dollar value on the long-term merits of establishing a brand, particularly because the practice of doing so is inherently intangible and, often, counter-intuitive to the culture the world embraces today.
This is also exacerbated by a society steeped in instant gratification, and businesses are not exempt from this condition as well. When companies (and CEOs and leaders) constantly need to deliver returns on a quarterly basis, in order to keep its shareholders and stakeholders happy and interested, it becomes more difficult to devote time, energy, attention, and resources into establishing effective branding.
However, it would bode well for businesses, especially newer businesses to take a step back and observe, and understand what made the biggest companies, and the biggest brands, from achieving their success.
It is when businesses realize that, in addition to keeping an eye on short-term goals, which are no doubt important, it is equally important to have long-term aspirations, of building a company to eventually become an unforgettable brand.
AHM Mustafizur Rahman has a Masters in Strategic Brand Management from Southern Methodist University and is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune.