Dan Ratner, Managing Director at uberbrand, was recently interviewed for a branding article in The Australian’s “The Deal Magazine”, which was published on May 18 2012
Every detail counts if you want people to have the same (good)view of your business.
A brand is often described as the sum of all the individual experiences and impressions a person has with a business. According to expert Dan Ratner, a great brand can be powerful: “It lives in their [the customer’s] head.”
Ratner, who runs brand agency Uberbrand, says the ideal endpoint is where similar perceptions are held in the minds of the people that matter most. And it’s not just for mega-corporations such as Coca-Cola or Nike. Businesses of all sizes can get into their customers’ heads.
That is what Naomi Simson set out to do when she launched Red Balloon 10 years ago from the front room of her home in Balmain, Sydney. Her idea was to build a brand around the simple premise that experience is a better gift than stuff. Her business model was simple: offer activities such as golf or scuba diving lessons.
Today, Red Balloon has more than 2500 corporate customers, 56 employees and its annual revenue is racing towards $50 million. And to underscore how all things contribute to branding, her trademark red balloons match her trademark red business suits.
If perception is reality, then a name that has become associated with losing money would surely be a candidate for change, right? Yes, but sometimes it takes a billion-dollar loss to rub the point in.
Last month, OneSteel floated a new name, Arrium, as part of its move to broaden from steel manufacturing to embrace mining and mining consumables, which now produce 40 per cent of the company’s revenue. OneSteel is trying to reposition itself in the market, and one way to do that is to change the name. Appropriately for steel makers, “Arrium” is a name fabricated for the occasion. Shareholders whose investment has lost 90 per cent of its value in recent years will be praying for a change in perception on the part of the markets.
Marketing experts point out this is not the fi rst time the company, originally part of BHP, has changed its name. The decision says a lot about the challenge of branding in a global, competitive marketplace, with product life cycles as short as three years.
Many small businesses in Australia suffer from a lack of visibility. As traditional advertising becomes less effective, it is important for small business owners to understand how to build their brand. Rather is keen on emphasising the power of perceptions.
“When you present a piece of advertising, you are making an impression and everything about the brand counts,” he says. “If you have a cafe, your job is to build brand equity. That’s how you establish customer loyalty. Every aspect of the customer experience counts – the service, the quality of the coffee, the price, the interior design, the layout, the location.”
His cafe illustration would be familiar to most people. Most of us will have our favourite place. “Why is it that it’s okay for you to be kept waiting occasionally at your favourite cafe, but it may be a totally dissatisfying experience at another place? It’s because that cafe has built brand equity. In other words, the sum of all your experiences with your favourite cafe outweighs the negative experience.”
The quality of your branding can be tested by asking a sample of relevant people about the business, and seeing what associations they have. Stronger brands will result in similar associations across your sample.
Ratner says that, ultimately, branding is about defining who you are and what you do to a relevant audience and trying to ensure similar perceptions across the customer segment.
“A brand manager who I worked with ran a test to understand if he needed help to refocus and better define his brand to his market audience. He simply asked 40 people to define his brand and when they came back with 40 different responses he knew that he had some work to do.” Business owners take note.
Morris Kaplan writes for Friday’s Entrepreneur section in The Australian (email@example.com).<< Back to blog