Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Branding As A Company-Wide Business Strategy

I've been doing a lot of reading about companies focusing on branding and how to use it to improve business. One such article was from www.brandweek.com dated January 28, titled "Nike Seeks To Undercut New Under Armour Line". The article is about the new athletic performance trainers that both companies are coming out with. Now, as I read this article, it occurred to me that Nike was being positioned as the under dog? How can that be? A giant like Nike, who has always been the leader in innovation and technology in sports apparel.

It appears that Under Armour is a company where the brand has been created, not by mistake or some new marketing campaign, but through a business strategy rooted in the understanding of who their customer is, what is important to them, and what experiences will make them believe in Under Armour's promise. Now, Nike is and has been the model in product innovation and performance since their beginning, but Under Armour has created a fanatical following who believe 100% in the brand. No competitor's marketing campaign is going to change that.

Let's look at how this is possible. A quote in the article by Under Armour's VP of Brand Marketing, Steve Battista, sums it up by saying "It's about reinventing and revolutionizing how athletes train for competition". This comes from an complete understanding of what their customers' functional needs are, what experiences they are looking for, and what will affect them emotionally and socially. Creating this "cultural capital" is where companies need to be. It makes the customers want to spend time with you. Because only then, does price become a non-issue (okay, price will always be a factor, but a much less important one). This is what creates brands, creates loyal customers and grows companies. Not a new marketing campaign, but an entire company delivering the same promise over and over.

- The Brand Man

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