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Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett

Does Your Brand Measure Up?

Are frequent mentions in the media or a striking logo the hallmarks of a strong brand? Brand strength and brand stature are the key elements of a strong brand, according to Geoff Colvin in "Understanding the Election as Brand Marketing." What Colvin says about Presidential candidates and branding applies to all businesses.

Most of us associate branding with brand stature or reputation. However, branding also includes brand strength--setting your organization apart from your competitors.

  • Brand strength measures how your brand compares with other brands. In other words, how successfully have you differentiated your offering? How relevant is your brand? To what extent does your target market connect with your brand?
  • Brand stature refers to your brand’s reputation. How well known and how well liked is your brand?*

Brand strength is far more important than brand stature, according to Colvin. Prospects want to know how your brand stands out from other brands. And, they want to be reassured that your claims are authentic. In addition, your brand should stand out because of desirable qualities, for example, more effective, more reliable, or more affordable. The Boeing brand has been weakened—perhaps irreparably. The brand now stands out because of the failure of its 737 Max planes.

How Branding Pertains to Your Business

To map how well the leading Democratic presidential candidates are doing, Colvin created a grid and plotted candidates’ strengths from 0 to 100% on the ‘y’ axis and their statures from 0 to 100% on the ‘x’ axis. The positions of the candidates are not exact but are relative to other candidates. To see where you stand in your market, try plotting the strength and stature of your brand compared with your competitors’ brands.

  • How strong is your brand? Are the distinctive aspects of your brand meaningful to your target market? Presidential candidates whose cause is reducing homelessness in big cities will not connect with farmers in Nebraska with surplus soybeans. Do you stand out because you provide exceptional service or value or promote social causes? How can you strengthen your brand?
  • What is your reputation? Are you well known among your customers and prospects? Are you respected in your industry? How can you boost your reputation?

It is not enough to have a well-known brand. Your brand must also stand out in a positive way; it must be relevant to customers and prospects. But, brand strength and stature may change over time. Hewlett-Packard, Sears, and now Macy’s are brands that have faded or are fading. Using Colvin’s criteria will help you visualize the position of your brand relative to competitors’ positions and help you develop ways to enhance your brand’s strength and stature. Then, periodically revisit your grid, track changes, and take corrective actions when necessary.

*Colvin’s branding “framework” originated with the Young & Rubicam ad agency (now the Y&R and BAV Group within WPP).

Actionable Business Insights

Copyright © 3/20 Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.

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