Do you look at big corporations which have existed for decades, sometimes close to the century mark, and wonder, what separates these companies from others which were started but are presently defunct? Companies that come to mind include Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Pepsi-Cola, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company and JG Summit Holdings, which seem to beat the timeline that companies would capitulate to the entry of new and more agile competitors.
However, research has shown that all or most of these companies possess some defining characteristics. These attributes make them strong and they stand out in the midst of sometimes overwhelming changes in the business environment. Thus, regardless of the market outlook or the health of the economy, these firms are flexible enough to revise their offerings, continually evaluate their corporate performance in the face of these changes, and emerge even stronger, and in more strategic position to take advantage of the opportunities that change presents.
Below, we look at the unique, underlying traits that distinguish strong brands from weak brands.
Strong brands have a strong and wildly compelling vision. One refining characteristic of a start-up, agency, non-profit or a for-profit organization is their ability to map out a unique, distinct and compelling vision – one that pulls them from their present state of being toward a more desirable and contributory state. Strong brands, long-serving organizations view the world through the lens of the possibilities. They map out a clear vision i.e. 5, 10, 20 years of what the ideal organization could look like, i.e. profitably serving a large number of customers, having the significant market share in their industry, productively collaborating with major players in their market etc. These, they design and outline, before acknowledging the challenges or obstacles that might exist in the real world.
Former Microsoft’s Chairman, Bill Gates’s vision for Microsoft was “A computer on every desk and in every home”. Sports apparel company, Nike’s vision is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. This, the company tries to achieve by stipulating that anyone ‘who has a body’, is an athlete.
They have strong and clearly defined mission and value statements. The mission and core values of an organization represent the ‘identity’ of the organization and how the organization aims to operate in her interactions with her different stakeholders. Strong brands possess clearly defined mission and core values, and these attributes are reflected, right from the top hierarchy of the organization to frontline service personnel. American Express’s values depict a commitment to the customer, an assurance of quality, integrity, teamwork and personal accountability for customer satisfaction. Swedish home furnishings retailer, IKEA’s mission is “to create a better everyday life for the many people”. These, the organization attains by producing refined, attractive and easily assembled furniture at affordable prices. P & G’s values statement include the qualities of trust, leadership, ownership and trust.
They redefine their product (or service) offerings to respond to the customers’ needs. Reinvention remains one of the characteristics that define strong brands. Continually evolving in response to customers’ needs and demands, organizations reevaluate and redefine their product offerings in response to these changes in consumer taste. They identify emerging opportunities in their industry and capitalize on these opportunities. Using the SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, strong brands design action plans, locate opportunities and run with those opportunities that match their strengths.
IKEA’s first product offering was a mail-order sales business, before the Swedish corporation branched into furniture making. Computer maker, Hewlett-Packard commenced business operations in the sale of audio oscillators. Electronics giant, Samsung’s prior establishment was as a trading company, before its eventual diversification into food processing, textiles, retail and then, electronics. Apple co-founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs, is fondly known for stating the following quote, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been”.
They have a strong unique selling proposition. Long-serving organizations usually commence business operations with a strong unique selling proposition. Identifying a niche in customer requirements, they structure out or invent a product offering to respond to this niche. CEO of computer technology company, Dell Corporation, Michael Dell started PC’s Limited (presently DELL Corporation) in his school dormitory with the objective to make Dell Computers, a cheap, more affordable option, and accessible to the lower class income earners. Apple products are defined as attractive, fine-tuned, intuitive, aesthetic design, with innovation placed at the forefront of the company’s operations. From high-end products to mass-produced products to meet different consumer requirements, long-serving corporations identify their selling proposition and stay consistent in the sale or provision of these proposition.
They make customer service a priority. The availability of top-notch, knowledgeable customer service is another underlying quality that separates strong brands from weak brands. The first port of call when a customer has a complaint with a company’s product is the customer service. Customers expect that they would be treated timely, courteously, knowledgeably with respect to their product issues. Technology company, Apple Inc. has a reputation for industry-defining customer service protocols. CEO of car company, Tesla and space company, SpaceX, Elon Musk, has the knack for, sometimes responding personally to customers’ inquiries and suggestions with respect to Tesla products. The Tesla showrooms are also a model platform to how customers crave to be treated.
Emerging essay writing service, Writing Peak, notable providers of where to find a research paper for sale and apa research paper outline, points to top-notch customer service as the primary reason for its remarkable growth.
Strong brands add to their product line, in response to consumer needs and expectations. Growing companies thrive on identifying consumer needs which in some cases is derived from their initial product offerings, and they carry out factory modifications to fill this niche. These companies develop new products lines or assembly lines to continually expand the offerings they proffer to the consumer. Examples include the creation of mobile accessories (Bluetooth headsets, smartwatches, smart wears etc.) to work in tandem with smartphones. The creation of the Apple iTunes store was in response to consumers’ desire for an accessible music database.
They are active in corporate social responsibility. Corporate Social Responsibility represents the contribution of a company to the location it resides and the society as a whole. Forbes magazine reports on a research conducted to determine factors that influence consumers’ perception of a company. The research reveals that 42% of how consumers feel about a company results from the impact the company has on the environment socially. Some examples of CSR include a company’s resolution to reduce carbon emission via the factory operations, the planting of trees toward the sustenance of the environment, or the process of using reusable energy in the running of a firm’s operations. Organizations like Coffee company, Starbucks, media and entertainment company, Walt Disney Corporation, Google Inc. and Microsoft Inc. are known to be very active in their ventures in social responsibility.
The above outlines the efforts strong brands undertake to remain relevant in the market environment. Above all, organizations must continually evolve around customer needs and desires, in order to be at par with customer expectations.