Importance of Brand Leadership

“What should a brand leader advertise? Brand Leadership, of course. Leadership is the single most important motivating factor in consumer behaviour.” – Al Ries

We know that there is no let up in the number of new companies mushrooming in the market, and many offer products similar to those already in the market. This means that unless companies do something unique, and ensure that their brand strategy sets them apart, they would be lost in the melee. Brand leadership allows a company to stand out, differentiate itself among its existing and prospective customer base, and become easily identifiable. Branding is all about ensuring that a company and its offering are recognized, not just in the domestic market, but globally as well, which in turn would make it easier to attract a larger number of people to become customers. Brands that are seen as leaders, would gain respect, trust, and dependability with its customers, given that customer service excellence would be an integral part of the brand. Top class customer service is one of the defining characteristics of brand leadership.

Customer buying power has increased significantly over the years, which should bode well for companies that do a good job with being market and thought leaders. However, since customers are also becoming more demanding, companies must have a definite and robust marketing strategy, that includes emphasis on brand leadership. Unless a brand occupies a frontal position with customers, it could easily become obsolete and lost in the crowd. Brand leadership comes from a branding strategy that would help to create value through consistently high quality customer experiences, and offerings. Customers should remain satisfied and happy, and be willing to keep returning to the brand, while also encouraging all those they know, to try the brand. Once customers see value in a brand, and are unwilling to accept any other, a company could safely claim brand leadership.

Ensuring brand awareness is no longer an option and companies must constantly strive to maintain high visibility of their brand, while amply displaying its uniqueness. The good news for companies is that through the internet and social media, they have plenty of opportunities to remain connected, and drive strategies to enable and establish brand leadership. An increasing number of customers are now buying online. The crowded online market can very likely ‘swallow’ a brand that does not actively work towards staying relevant, and consistently aim for brand leadership. A company’s brand is its identity, and can prove to be a company’s greatest asset and most prominent selling feature, if handled right. Brand leadership comes about adding by value to the lives of customers, establishing trust, and building an emotional connection with them. A brand is what highlights the culture and vision of a company, and goes beyond simple words,colours, and logos – it is what lends substance to a company.

The importance of brand leadership cannot be underestimated – the purpose primarily would be to ensure that a company’s products are known, and become easy to sell, not just in the immediate market, but in a wider customer base as well. This would ensure that the company commands market leadership, gaining a high profit margin leading to sustainable success. This is why, in such a cutthroat and competitive market, brand leadership becomes critical and quintessential to success. Brands must put on their most ‘compelling and convincing performance’ if it is to remain in the running and highly sought after by customers. To gain brand leadership, a company must remember that the brand must always deliver on the promises made, remain consistent in providing top class customer service, and gain customer loyalty, such that they remain with the company irrespective of competitors, and market conditions. Customers would continue to buy from such a brand even if it costs them slightly more – this is engagement and emotional connection at its best.

Companies must understand and be able to handle the dynamic nature of brand leadership. It requires focus, dedication, and passion from everyone in the company – customers must ‘feel’ the ‘relationship’ through every interaction, and be able to perceive the fulfilment of the brand’s promise through every touch-point. Brand leadership is not a short-term endeavour – rather it is about ensuring that the brand becomes ingrained and ‘cemented’ in the minds of the customers. brand leadership is about a company’s passion towards innovation and creating something new and exciting for its customers at all times. The brand must display the ‘story’ of the company, and be completely inter-woven with the overall business strategies of the company. Brand leadership comes about by challenging the status quo, and moving beyond the ‘traditional and tried and tested’ methods, and in their stead giving customers something unique, original, value-added, and meaningful.

Brand leadership comes about through skilled and dedicated leaders, who not only have a knack of understanding what their employees need, but ensuring that they use the inherent talents to fulfil and exceed customer expectations and demands. This in turn attracts value-added partners to the company, such as investors, talent, vendors and stakeholders. The customers of a company, that has established its brand leadership remain confident that their needs and expectations would be empathetically managed by the company. Customers know for sure that they would receive cheerful, friendly, polite, and immediate service, and their needs would be met by knowledgeable and highly skilled company representatives. It is the onus of a company to ensure that the journey towards brand leadership is part of the company’s culture, and that each person in the organization understands its importance and how the role they play in establishing leadership for their brand.

The setting of a culture that focuses on brand leadership, or any other imperative, begins with the company’s leadership, and the strategy they put together for everyone to follow. They must ensure that everyone understands the expectations and preferences of the company’s customers, and comply with them, irrespective of the job position an employee may hold. The company must invest in training and coaching for each person in the organization, in order to build and hone the skills required to meet and exceed customer expectations, which in turn would lead to customer loyalty and profitability, and establish the brand as a market leader. We know that customer service is everyone’s responsibility, which means that establishing brand leadership also becomes an integral part of each person’s job role. The idea is to ensure that an increasing number of customers embrace the brand, become engaged with it, and make it their mission to help the brand become successful and an undisputed leader in the market.

Brand leadership cannot come about by ‘playing it safe’. Companies must be ready to push their boundaries, move out of their comfort zone, have a growth mindset, and be willing to take calculated risks. It is about involving customers at every stage – either by asking for their feedback, or including them in the development of new products and brands, or any other way that makes them part of a solution. This will ensure that the company’s brand / products would have a base of customers, ready and willing to use the brand or product immediately, and also encourage others to use it too. Whatever methods a company decides to adopt, the fact is that brand leadership is essential in today’s market place, and once a company has established its leadership, it would gain a lot more positive attention and benefits. Does your company have brand leadership?

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