Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: Quality, Trust and Innovation Are Worthless

Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: Quality, Trust and Innovation Are Worthless

Article excerpt

Visit any FTSE 500 company and ask the first 10 employees you meet about their brand. Not one, barring the brand manager (if you are lucky), will have a clue what values or positioning they should be delivering to customers. Their attention and potential support was lost long ago when a sea of circles, triangles and keyholes containing brand personalities, traits, values and attributes washed over the heads of an unsuspecting workforce.

A correlation exists between the brevity of a brand's positioning and its potential to succeed. That success hinges on ensuring that the positioning is not only tight, but right.It is hard to know whether your positioning statement is right, but it is far easier to determine whether it is wrong.

Most companies use the same tired values to position their brand. Three brand values repeatedly emerge. This unholy trinity is generic, worthless and sadly symptomatic of indolent marketers who apply a branding-by-numbers approach to this most vital and unique of challenges. Irrespective of format or length, if your brand positioning contains any (or all) of the values described below, I steadfastly predict imminent failure to build the brand.

The first is quality. Quality is a multidimensional concept. It can mean hundreds of different concepts: luxury, reliability, rarity, performance, taste, durability, speed and slowness, to name a few. If the point of positioning is to focus the brand, why do it on something that means different things to different people at different times? If you cannot be specific about your brand in its positioning statement, everything that follows will be equally vague and mundane.

The next harbinger of incompetent branding is trust. I have yet to encounter a business-to-business company that does not position itself as a 'trusted partner' to its customers. Trust and partnership are almost as nebulous in meaning as quality. Worse, if everyone is attempting to be a trusted partner in your market (and believe me, they are), it is hardly going to differentiate you. Indeed, you should ask whether a situation could arise in which these values would not apply? When would a company ever want to be untrustworthy or unco-operative with its customers? …

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