When we think of leading brands, we likely picture those that are distinctive, and inspiring. They promote customer loyalty and are admired by the general public. But how do we recognize a brand that is truly a leader in the marketplace? While there is no single element that defines success, they likely have great relationships with their buyers, hire and retain talented employees and have a clear strategic direction for future growth. Together, these lead to an excellent financial performance and a strong market valuation. Leading brands are crucial to an organization’s success, and therefore must be continually preserved and nurtured.
Ask yourself the following question: What benefits does a leading brand provide to its owners? A strong brand will benefit from the following:
A large amount of free publicity
Unwavering customer loyalty
Increased market share
Bargaining power with partners
Regular increases in sales
High profit margins
Above average market valuation
What are the 5 most important measures of these benefits?
Awareness. A leading brand is almost always distinguishable by having top-of-mind awareness with the public. Additionally, if publicity has been purchased through promotional advertising or other paid marketing the brand will receive a much higher than average return on investment.
Differentiation. This is the degree to which a brand is perceived to be relevant to the target customer’s needs, and how unique people believe it is in its delivery of important customer benefits. There will be a feeling in the marketplace that the brand offers something that no one else does.
Loyalty. Top brands will experience a high level of customer loyalty, and are considered to be trustworthy, likable, and stand for something important. Things such as a customer’s willingness to recommend the brand to a friend can mark this attribute. Loyalty is, of course, essential to success.
Price Sensitivity. Top brands will always benefit from customers that don’t mind paying a premium. This is in stark contrast to generic, unbranded products in the same category. Customers will be less likely to switch brands if competitive products are being offered elsewhere at a discount.
Perhaps you would be interested in learning what the world’s top brands are? Check out this article in Forbes that lists the 25 most valuable brands from around the world. Here’s a little hint about the highest spot on the chart – Apple.
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, a leading brand will not be impacted as heavily by mitigating factors, such as structural adjustments within the organization. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, “Companies with strong leadership brands tend not to be as affected by changes in management as companies with weaker leadership brands”.
Understanding what characteristics separate a leading brand from the rest will enable us to emulate their success. However, despite what may seem like obvious traits to duplicate, relatively few brands achieve the level of prosperity that will allow them to reap the benefits listed above. This means that the importance of research, strategy and persistence cannot be understated when attempting to achieve the title of “leading brand.” Remember, success does not come easy, and it does not come to all.