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Mine's a BMW, that's me

When it comes to cars and other products and services most of us have a pretty good idea of what particular brands stand for, and an accurate mental map of where they stand in relation to other brands. We don't have to think twice about the relative positions of a BMW and a Daewoo, or a Carlsberg and a Carling for example.

Not everyone will share precisely the same view. But the more successful a brand has been in its communications the better its brand focus, and the more people agree about where it sits and what they can expect from it. Most would identify Rolex as a high status, high price, high quality watch even if they never get near to owning one.

We are brand aware because branding helps us make the right buying decisions. If I buy a BMW, that says something about BMW - its reputation and what I expect from it. It also says something about me, what I believe in, how I see myself and like to be seen. The more I know about BMW and other brands, the better I can decide what to buy and the less risk there is in the purchase.

A brand is reputation, that's why managing your reputation is so important. But brands are built in people's heads, with bits and pieces they have picked up from three main sources:

  1. Product performance - experience in use compared to other brands guides our brand mapping and is the primary brand builder.

  2. Communications - what you say about your brand and how you say it in advertising and PR, on the side of your vans, and how sales people and installers present themselves is critical. What others say about you, your products and service is even more important.

  3. Price positions your product, but it's not a straightforward matter. If you price like a Timex but claim it's a Rolex something's wrong. The same low price will attract some but deter others with suspicions of quality. One of the many functions of price is summed up in Stella Artois' great marketplace success: "Reassuringly expensive."

What does your brand stand for, and where does it sit in relation to your competitors? Do you know what people are saying about you?

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