A NEW YEAR, A STRONGER BRAND

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The New Year is upon us. Now that we are starting to work on our resolutions, it is also a great time to work on your corporate brand. The best branding campaigns utilize a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), or what you do better than your competitors. Another factor is the Emotional Selling Proposition (ESP), or how you build an emotional connection with your consumers. Your brand is most effective if you can combine your USP with your ESP, such as BMW’s positioning statement “The Ultimate Driving Machine” or McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ it!”

There are many elements to branding, some more important for our industry than others. One of the vital elements for us is brand experience. This is simply a combination of everything a customer goes through while purchasing and using the brand. For optical laboratories that might start with the sales rep or the customer service rep. How knowledgeable, friendly and easy to work with are they? It would also include your website and how hard or easy it is to navigate. It includes your technical experts, answering questions about which lens may be best for a certain patient’s needs. How good is your phone system? Is it customer-friendly, or does it take many steps and prompts to get to the person with whom your customer needs to speak? There is much more that is a part of the brand experience, and your management team should consider all aspects to improve this vital category.

Another important element of branding is the brand gap. This is the difference between what the brand promises to deliver versus what is actually delivered. For example, if a part of your branding includes references to fast service, but remakes somehow end up taking 10 days, then the customer is experiencing a brand gap. Another example would be if your branding position has a reference to high quality, but some aspects of your production have drawbacks (such as drilled rimless mounts) then again there is a gap. Obviously you want any gaps to be as small as possible.

Brand equity is the value of the brand. Some brands have tremendous equity due to great products and marketing over the years, such as Apple or Ferrari. We might not be in their league, but we can still build great value for our brand with smart advertising and good products. That’s something that you can eventually take to the bank!

Eric Rollins is a veteran of the optical retail, frame and lab industries. His firm, Rollins Consulting, LLC, consults with the three Os to improve profitability. Email him at EricRollins@Comcast.net.

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