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Creating a Brand

FastTrac, Kauffman Foundation

To attract customers who fit your customer profile, your business's image should align with your customers' needs and expectations. An image makes a company distinctive, or unique, compared to others in the market. By emphasizing your competitive advantage as part of your image, you can position your products or services to stand out in the market and attract more customers.

What's an image? An image describes how customers feel about your business. But you don't want to leave this emotional response to chance. You can have some influence on your business's image by creating a brand.

A brand establishes an identity for a product, service, or business. It creates a visual, emotional, and cultural connection between customers and the company. A brand conjures up powerful images for customers, both consciously and subconsciously. It paints a picture about the company, the product or service, and the type of customer it represents. For example, Disney® has a strong brand as the family entertainment leader. It strives to portray a positive business image and ensures that customers' experiences keep them coming back. Disney communicates messages of family fun, clean environments, and service excellence. Employees are referred to as "cast members" and attend Disney University to learn their roles, responsibilities, and service standards.

When customers buy a brand, they buy its values and promises, and feel that their expectations are aligned with the company. The product or service the customers buy and the quality experience they receive is what persuades them to buy the same brand again. The product or service and brand have a direct reflection on one another.

A number of companies have successfully created a brand that stands out in customers' minds. A successful brand has a positive association, a recognized name, and a higher perceived value than its competitors. For example, Apple® commands higher prices than its competition because it has a loyal following that appreciates its innovative, counter-culture image. The Volvo® brand is identified with a widely sought vehicle attribute-safety. This strong, focused image has guaranteed it steady sales.

Create a Brand 

In 2002, Erika Feinberg and her husband, Larry Fugleberg, bought a small business in Scottsdale, Arizona, that sold medical products to seniors, primarily through a low-grade Web site with limited capabilities. They knew immediately that they needed to create a brand in order for the business to grow.

Using the business planning process, they thought through each aspect of the business. To give their Web site credibility, they decided to open a retail store located in a medical complex just half a block away from a major retail center. Sales increased five-fold, thanks to medical industry recommendations and the company's "guaranteed lowest price" promise.They also initiated a complete re-branding. "We wanted to expand the business beyond its elderly image," Feinberg says. She and her husband admit to sharing a "save the world mentality" and wanted to focuson preventative and active care. They adopted the tag line, "solutions for daily living," to highlight their creative approach.

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