How important are Brand Names?

Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.Elon Musk

Not very much in the recent past, we were comfortable with the ‘limited’ options available to us and we made the most of them. People were content with wearing and using things that made their lives easier, irrespective of whether they had big brand names or not. The scenario has changed drastically now – we are surrounded by brand names and even toddlers and infants are not spared. Brand names are ubiquitous in every aspect of our life and as if that were not enough, we are constantly bombarded with updates on the existing brands or told about new brand names via every possible communication channel. Advertisements and promotions are thrust at us hyping a latest product from a particular brand, ensuring that brand names get deeply ingrained into our system. Brand names have become synonymous with ‘status’ and a ‘cool quotient’ and people seem have got attuned to finding a sense of importance and pride in being associated with them. Companies are smart and have picked up on this need to identify and as such promotions target this particular need so deftly that consumers who are ‘addicted’ to brand names build identities around these brands for themselves.

What is strange is that people who do not regularly buy branded items, have also had created in their minds certain perceptions about people who do use brand names. So whether you are a ‘user’ or not, companies have been able to firmly entrench brand names into your life. So profound and deep-rooted are these impressions that great quality has also become associated with brand names. It is assumed that the bigger the brand, the better will be its durability and quality.  Are brand names really that important? What is your notion of branded products as a customer – would you buy a brand for its ‘status symbol’ even if you receive poor and shoddy customer service from the company?

Let’s just say that a number of customers would agree that brand names are important, especially for the things they wear, since these brands are highly recognized and there is a certain value and inherent charm attached to them. However, the recognition and importance attached to a brand has to do with the target audience. Brand names that are chosen well are able to solidify a customer’s perception of its value and quality and are able to trust it more over a period of time. We see people flocking to ‘sales’ and places that offer items with ‘known’ brand names, irrespective of whether the items are genuine or not. So credible and fancied are these brand names that consumers go berserk trying to get their hands on such items. It is quite surprising however to note how one brand is considered ‘in and hot’ with one set of audience, while another set may not fancy it at all.

Whatever the reason for choosing brand names, the one common thread is perhaps the personal experience a customer has with a brand. Most customers keep returning to buy items of a particular brand because of what they personally experienced. Of course if they are buying for the first time, they would not hesitate to rely on a friend’s or associates personal experience when choosing a brand. Brand names it would then be assumed are important – at least to some.

Another reason that brand names seem important and are used is the performance of the brand in the past. Past experiences and reputation of a brand carry a lot of weight and clout in the market. Even if people have not used them in the past, they would use this data to try out the brand names with ‘glowing tributes’.  Companies do a great job at keeping up the haloed perception of their brand names – it is obvious from the fact that consumers are willing to pay extra to keep using brands.

Brand names are important for companies – they facilitate sales and also help to get them noticed and keep the company in the eye of the public. Perceptions about brand names are so entrenched that when outdoor events take place and are sponsored by certain brand names, customers are drawn in droves to such events. There is an automatic level of expectation from the event and these brand names get the event more attention.

Customers – whether individuals or companies – seek out brand names even when gifting. The perception of value and of high quality is enough to make the recipient happy about receiving the branded gift, irrespective of its use to them. Strangely, people will find a use of the branded item received, thereby reiterating that brand names have become important in people’s lives.

Of course, brand names while being all around and seemingly all-encompassing, there is really nothing that can be considered ever-lasting and absolute in business. Companies need to constantly build around their brand names and keep the quality consistent for them to continue selling. The fact is that many brands are surfacing, providing the same quality and recognition with much lower rates. Customers are willing to experiment and as such it depends on the brand names and the companies to sustain interest in their brands. Companies must remember that value and quality are perceptions that they have created in the minds of the customers and as customers become more familiar with your brand, these perceptions could be set to rest as the spirit of experimentation takes over.

Brand names are powerful and compelling and many times customers blindly make purchases, which could not be the best way to buy. It is the onus of companies to ensure that the brands that they put out comply to certain standards if they expect customers to stick with their brand names. As customers get smarter, access more information and get a greater number of choices, they would deflect if they have a single opportunity to become dissatisfied.  Companies must pay attention to:

  • Consistent pricing. Considerations of advertising, promotions, overheads and market segment must be taken into account such that they do not need to continually increase prices which could be a reason for people leaving the brand.
  • The packaging of the product must be attractive but must also provide complete details of the product. Keeping the packaging minimalistic cuts down on costs for the company and also for the customer, adding to the attractiveness of the product and brand.
  • Ensure that your product and brand names have an all-season feel. While the style could change, the essence of the brand name should be easily identifiable.
  • Customers know about brand names and why they are of value to them. Ensure that your company and customer service constantly provide quality and service that is consistent with the brand and is consistent across all locations. Customers tend to associate a certain innate value when they think of brand names and that means that the reputation of your company is at stake.
  • While it may seem unnecessary to talk about your popular brand because customers already know, it must be remembered that there are new customers all the time and unless they hear about your brand, they won’t buy. Your brand names are important but you must display that importance to customers and consistently remind them of your presence.

While no one can or should underestimate the importance of brand names, it is important that you make it stand out by providing stand-apart class of customer service, distinguishing you from others. Customers will remember your brand names till such time that they get something better – ensure that you are getting better.

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