Masterclass: Branding and Value Propositions that Spark Growth
The ‘not so secret’ ingredients to success:
Now that you’ve identified your company’s values, its mission and your vision for its future — it is time to define your brand and develop your value proposition.
But first, here’s a quick review of terms to make sure we’re all on the same page before we get into why defining your brand and developing a value proposition will help you market and grow your business.
Brand: also known as a ‘brand name’ is any word, design, sound, shape, or color, or combination of these used to distinguish a seller’s goods or services from its competitors in the eyes of the customer.
Branding: the term ‘branding’ was first associated with cattle ranchers burning a mark on steer so that a rancher could identify his steer from those owned by another rancher. Branding products and services keeps with this principle; a company burns its brand image in the minds of consumers.
Brand Equity: this is the evidence that a brand (or words/design) used to distinguish a company’s products is strong. It is the added value a brand name gives to a product beyond the functional benefits provided. Think Coca Cola, Nike, eBay etc. Having strong brand equity usually means:
* a company can charge higher prices because it has higher perceived quality,
* it will give a company more trade leverage with distributors and retailers,
* it can reduce marketing costs because of an already high level of consumer brand awareness and loyalty.
Value Proposition: is a brief and simple statement that explains all of the benefits that will be delivered to the customer. These benefits might be qualitative (example customer experience) or quantitative (example price). Elements that contribute to creating value for customers include:
* Cost Reduction
How to define your Brand:
To help you figure out the basics of your brand answer these simple questions:
* What is your company’s mission?
* What qualities do you want customers to associate with your company?
* What benefits and features are you offering?
* What words do you use to distinguish yourself from the competion?
* What colors, design, sound or shapes describe your company?
Value Propositions made simple:
Value propositions are important to clarify at the start of any marketing activity because a product or service with a strong value proposition is directly linked to actual and sustained sales performance. If you can’t put into word’s why you’re so special then you will struggle to sell yourself to customers. To be able to understand why you are so special, you should have also defined your brand before going into why it is the absolute best choice on the market to customers.
Here are some popular value proposition examples from technology brands you know (and might even already love!):
* Bitly: Shorten. Share. Measure.
* MacBook: Light. Years ahead.
* MailChimp: Send Better Email.
* Skype: Skype keeps the world talking for free. Share, message and call — now with group video on mobile and tablet too.
* Weebly: The Easiest Way to Make a Website.
Drafting a value proposition might seem overwhelming at first but you can work through a few basic questions to get started:
* Are you solving an urgent problem?
* Is there currently a lack of viable solutions to this problem on the market?
* Is the problem you’re solving unavoidable?
Warning: many entrepreneurs at this point focus on the benefits they can provide but completely overlook the fact that their product might have a high learning curve and actually initially be hard for a customer to set-up. If customers think that what you have is just too difficult or risky they may just buy from the competition instead. So always consider your gain/pain aspect when producing your value proposition.
There are some good books centered on value proposition development as well as free online templates to help you craft a value proposition that will work for your business or its products. Value Proposition Design by Alexander Osterwalder is a clear favorite used on MBA programs worldwide. A list of seven popular value proposition templates created by experts can also be used online for free here.
If your business needs to refine its values you can read more about how Steve Jobs made them the foundation of Apple’s success in my article “Marketing Starts with your Values”.
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Cambridge MBA | Marketing Consultant | Speaker | Author | Ghostwriter