“The best way to kill a so-so product is with a great marketing campaign.”
“Branding” is perhaps the most misunderstood term in marketing, and perhaps in all of corporate America. There are a handful of companies worldwide–including Coke, AT&T, Nike, McDonald’s, Geico, Budweiser–that actually run true branding campaigns, defined as a broad-based marketing effort designed to change or influence the market’s perception of a product or service. The reason only a handful? Prohibitive cost. Only a tiny fraction of companies have the multi-hundred million dollar annual marketing budget needed to move the perceptual needle.
So what does branding mean for the rest of us? Inside-Out Branding© is a philosophy that represents the opposite of how many companies and marketing service providers view branding. The basis of the Inside-Out Branding concept is that your company’s brand doesn’t equate to or derive from your logo, tagline or your marketing budget. Nor is your brand comprised of the words in your company brochure, Web site or television commercials.
Rather, Inside-Out Branding states that your brand equity comes from inside the company, starting with the product or service and your customers’ experience with it. Think of your brand as the sum total of the hundreds or thousands of touch points you have with your customers (see image at right), from the timeliness and accuracy of the invoice, to the way the receptionist answers the phone or attitude customer service associates convey to the clarity of your product’s assembly instructions to, most importantly of course, the way your product enhances the day to day life of your customers, be they consumers or businesses.
So Inside-Out Branding is much more than simply promoting your company with memorable and creative messages. With Inside-Out Branding, every customer touch point and every aspect of the customer experience add up to create a company’s brand identity.
Too often companies use investments in advertising or other promotion to fix what is in actuality a product or sales problem. The Inside-Out Branding approach recommends that your marketing budget should only be used once your product or service has achieved a very positive customer experience and your company has “cracked the code” on the optimal sales process.
Generally speaking, before dollars are spent on awareness and lead generation, your product or service should be achieving these key operational metrics:
- Your customer satisfaction rating of at least 95% (why would you promote a product that customers wouldn’t recommend to others?)
- Your customer renewal rate of at least 90%.
- Your sales process results in a close ratio of at least 25% (i.e. you convert at least one out of every four visitors to your online store or close one of every four deals you’re in.)
Bob London is president of London, Ink, a Maryland-based marketing and communications consulting firm, and serves as a Virtual VP of Marketing for growth stage companies that need an injection of marketing experience and leadership to drive key initiatives and results.