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Ten C’s of Branding. Lecture 24. 1. Competent.

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1 competent
1. Competent
  • All brands begin with competence. Although a rational brand attribute, it is the table stakes that gets you into the game. You aren't going to get too far with branding if your product or service cannot fulfill its promise. Just as people who cannot hold a note don't make it past the first round on Pop Idol, you can't build a brand around ineptitude.
  • When IKEA first launched in Sweden, its furniture was well designed, but of poor quality. It did not have a solid brand. Then, after years of refinements, it started to produce much-higher quality products, still at affordable prices. Now, their kitchens are considered to be of very high quality while remaining inexpensive and fashionable.
  • Competence is the first C. If you don't have a solid product or service, you are wasting your efforts branding it.
2 credible
2. Credible
  • Not only do your products and services need to be solid, you need to be believable in delivering them. You need to be true to your core values and deliver on them in everything you do.
  • Although it could certainly produce a couture collection of clothes, the Gap would not be credible in extending its line to compete with Valentino and Dior on the runways of Paris. Starbucks, on the other hand, is a credible partner for Krups with its espresso machines. Starbucks knows something about coffee, so this offering is believable.
3 clear
3. Clear
  • Strong brands are clear about what they are and what they are not. They understand their unique promise of value—and this promise sets them apart from their competitors. It differentiates them and allows them to attract and build loyalty among a desirable set of consumers.
  • Volvo, for example, is clear about its commitment to safety and security. The brand is not about speedy sports cars, or small economy cars, or luxury cars. Its clarity separates it from many less successful competitors that are trying to be all things to all people.
4 compelling
4. Compelling
  • A strong brand is appropriate for—and interesting to—its target audience. It is relevant. It knows who to focus on and gets that audience passionate about what it has to offer.
  • Ritz Carlton does not go after young trendy professionals, just as W Hotels knows that its promise is less compelling to older, more conservative people. I once spoke with a retired Army officer on a plane about W Hotels. He was telling me about his experience. He said the elevator lighting was so dim he thought the hotel was trying to conserve energy, and he found all the people dressed in black, including the housekeeping staff, "depressing."
5 consistent
5. Consistent
  • In addition to being clear about who they are, strong brands are also consistent. They are always what they say they are. In everything they do, they bolster their brand attributes.
  • Madonna is the chameleon brand of entertainment. She reinvents herself with each CD that she produces. She didn't change for her first five CDs and then stay the same for the next two. She consistently changes.
  • And the one thing we can be sure of with regard to her upcoming CD is that it will be nothing like any of the others she has done before. Madonna's ability to change consistently throughout her career separates her from other entertainers, thereby strengthening her brand