Effective Branding Example: Bottled Water
Even if you don't drink it regularly, most people have some opinion of different brands. Why? The product is essentially the same across the board (2 Hydrogens for each Oxygen, eliminate the rest of the gunk, put in a bottle). Why do you prefer Aquafina over Fiji or Arrowhead or Smart Water? What makes one better than the other, and why do you feel that you know the answer? That's effective branding. They've effectively differentiated themselves from their competitors and convinced you to buy their product over the other 15 options you have. The truly amazing part about branding is that it can, in the case of bottled water, make you believe that you should pay for something which is basically free from your faucet.
The Importance of Brand Awareness
(They Can't Buy It if They Don't Know it Exists)
We frequently work with Japanese and American companies who are hesitant to put effort into branding. But we have a message for all the Japanese companies and American companies who think no one wants their stuff: They DO.
American consumers do want Japanese-made stuff. But simply being Japanese stuff isn't enough to compel consumers to buy it because they'll take Korean stuff and Chinese stuff, too. Unless there's a compelling brand identity behind it, they're not going care that your pockets are double-sewn or your steel is forged in the tears of ninjas if it's three times as expensive as the regular steel from China, and they don't know your 300 year brand even though all of Japan might.
And American companies-American consumers DO actually want to buy made-in-the-USA stuff, and want domestic ingredients, and are willing to spend a little more on it, but if they don't "get" your brand concept, you won't “get” their cash and loyalty.
A large number of clients and potential clients come in with a truly great product and service. But when we ask them who their competition is, and why they beat them, we've found that more often than not even clients with an internal marketing department have trouble listing up their relative strengths and market competitiveness. We find they also come in having narrowed down their market (incorrect targeting, analysis of current market conditions, new potential markets) when we're working up a marketing branding strategy for them.