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Fusion Branding: How To Forge Your Brand For The Future
By Nick Wreden
A brand identity that draws new customers and keeps current customers loyal is the holy grail of many businesses. Successful brands have tremendous value and create great wealth for their owners. But, why do some branded identities, such as Amazon and eBay, become so successful, while other companies pour millions into brands that fail?
Fusion Branding: How To Forge Your Brand For The Future by Nick Wreden helps us understand how successful brands are created. Wreden argues past case studies of branding do not apply to the present economy, where less-trusting customers have better access to information and customers expect personalized treatment and quality service. Wreden says today's consumer will not accept being treated like the mass-market consumer of the past who was often overwhelmed by interrupt-based advertising.
Wreden writes: "A brand's power doesn't stem from the number of ads or press releases. It derives from an emotional, even mystical, attachment between a purchaser and a company. ... a brand is a multidimensional accumulation of positive experiences resulting from performance, usability, value and the recognition of peers. Brand building is based on what's always been important. Trust. Commitment. Loyalty. Respect. Satisfaction. In a word, a brand represents a bond."
Without operational excellence, customers don't respect a brand. Wreden says that companies must shift their focus from trying to "sell" to customers and examine the relationship from the customer's viewpoint. How can the company create real value for the customer? Branding moves a consumer from satisfaction to loyalty.
How serious companies are about being customer-focused can be observed by looking at how companies deal with product glitches. Comparing Inuit to Firestone, Wreden shows that brands can be strengthened when companies confront product glitches and absorb the costs to make things right, while failure to do so quickly erodes consumer trust and destroys the brand's value.
Wreden examines the role of personalization, self-service, and build-to-the-customer customization in the future economy. For example, some customers like to mix and match their own PC components when purchasing a PC. Some customers will want more RAM. Others will want less RAM, but, maybe, a higher-fidelity sound card. Wreden tells us this is one factor that has made Dell Computer so successful. Consumers can create their own PCs online and the PCs will be made to exactly match the customer's needs.
Wreden says the Internet is "...much more than a marketing medium. It is the key to enabling a relationship enterprise that allows business to be done on customer terms." We learn that while the Internet currently only accounts for one percent of the total U.S. sales, eighty-two percent of Internet shoppers gravitate to branded sites. So, branding is very important in determining which commercial websites become successful.
On-demand personalization will extend far beyond PCs in the future. For example, Wreden tell us about the jeans maker Levi Strauss: "At some stores, a body scanner can measure customers for a pair of exact-fitting jeans. However, it takes ten days to deliver the finished jeans, and they cost about one-third more than off-the-shelf jeans. In the demand economy, customers will be able to get the same pair of personalized jeans, but they will be delivered within one day and cost about the same."
To achieve on-demand efficiency will require that companies have excellent supply chain operations. Wreden writes: "An effective supply chain is the sine qua non of the demand economy. Integrated, orchestrated supply chains will be the basis for competition, and the primary determinant of the brand's ability to rapidly satisfy specific customer requirements. Supply chains must shift from a production-centric, 'push' model, where products are pushed through the supply chain based on production, to a customer-centered 'pull' model, where production is guided by actual customer demand, not forecasts."
Wreden says wireless technology will greatly enhance the ability of companies to immediately respond to customer needs. Wreden writes, "'Smart Dust' —tiny wireless sensors—will tag everyday objects for tracking and information transfer.... Already, there are ... garbage-can scanners which scan discarded items and place immediate orders for replenishment."
In addition to consumer branding, Fusion Branding: How To Forge Your Brand For The Future discusses business-to-business branding which is often neglected. The book includes excellent discussions of customer relationship management, pricing, privacy, emotional drivers that influence customers, and the importance of accountability within a business.
Fusion Branding: How To Forge Your Brand For The Future is highly recommended to anyone who wants to understand business, marketing, and branding. The book is a great addition to the serious business library.