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Using Branding to Increase Sales

FastTrac, Kauffman Foundation

One of the most effective market strategies your company can choose is crafting a company brand. A brand makes a product or service distinctive or unique compared to others in the market.

Your carefully constructed brand creates a visual, emotional, and cultural connection between customers and your company, the product or service, and the type of consumer it attracts.

Disney has a strong brand as the family entertainment leader of its industry. Disney's brand doesn't just happen. It is intentional and requires ongoing hard work and dedication to energetically support the brand. Its marketing materials and messages convey a consistent message of family fun, clean environments, and service excellence. Disney hires only those people who can meet its standards, and trains them at Disney University to learn their roles to provide great customer experiences.

Benefits of a Strong Brand

When customers buy your product or service, the experience they receive is what persuades them to buy from you again. By preferring to buy what your company offers, they are increasing the value of your brand. Customer loyalty to your brand helps you penetrate your market more effectively and maintain or increase market share.

A number of companies have successfully created a brand that stands out in customer's minds. Their brands have a positive association, a recognized name, and a higher perceived value than their competitors.

Examples of powerful brands include the following:

  • Lexus® is premium quality and luxury.
  • Lysol® kills germs.
  • Ben & Jerry's® is wholesome, premium ice cream, with fun flavors.
  • Whole Foods Market® is the supermarket of healthy foods.
  • Patagonia® creates high-quality outdoor wear.
  • Supercuts® offers haircuts at rock-bottom pricing.
  • Jiffy-Lube® provides quick and reliable car service.

Branding is not just for large corporations. All businesses can use branding to win a place in both the customers' hearts and minds. Danny O'Neill's air-roasted coffee business, The Roasterie® , communicates his company brand and his passion for the coffee bean through his logo, product packaging, Web site, and marketing message.

To communicate this passion, O'Neill includes his entrepreneurial story on each packet of coffee beans he sells. It starts with "I can tell you when I fell in love. It was November 22, 1978. On that day, as a foreign exchange student in Costa Rica, I picked my first coffee bean in the mountainous, volcanic, coffee-growing region around the Poás volcano. I fell in love with the country, the people, and the coffee. Especially the coffee. Fifteen years later my passion for great coffee could no longer be denied and The Roasterie was born..."

Changing Perceptions to Attract Customers

What's in a name? An opportunity to increase revenue-it's part of Clifton Boyd's strategy to change perceptions about his company and attract new customers. President of B&L Supply Inc., Boyd recently renamed his company. Formerly known as B&L Electric Supply Inc., the $3 million company is a wholesale supplier of electrical, paper, and cleaning products.

When Boyd and his partner incorporated in 1997, they combined the initials of their last names to personalize the company's name. They also included the adjective "electric" because they expected the majority of their customers to be electrical contractors. Over time, the percentage of business generated from electrical supplies began to increase, hitting a high of 90 percent. But Boyd wanted to reverse that trend because paper and cleaning products are a more stable, year-round business.

To expand non-electrical business, Boyd broadened his customer base, winning business with the state of Minnesota and General Mills. These new deals expanded paper and cleaning products to 35 percent of company sales, but Boyd wanted to push for even more and believed a name change would be the ticket. Along with the name change to B&L Supply, Inc., Boyd launched a new Web site to increase visibility. He expects these tactics to increase paper and cleaning revenue an additional 10 percent to 15 percent in the next year.

"We didn't want to change the name too much and lose recognition with existing clients," he says. "We hope this will give us the best of both worlds—attract new customers and win additional business from current customers."

© 2007 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. All rights reserved.

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