I remember years ago sitting in a closed meeting at the corporate HQ of a major fast food company. The discussion among the leadership centered on advertising. At the time, few spent more money on advertising than this burger giant. A comment made by the company VP of Marketing astounded me. It was one of those quotes that not only captures your attention, but keeps you thinking long after the meeting was over. In fact, I still think about it today, 25 years later. Here’s what he said:
“Think like a brand, act like a retailer.”
Part of the reason it captured my attention was that is sounded so simple and smart. The other—and perhaps more important—reason was that I had no idea what he meant, and I knew I had better figure it out soon because it was my job to make it happen in my market! Since then, I’ve logged a few miles and have come to use and share this principle often.
Retailers sell product. They are transaction oriented. They are all about the exchange of goods and services for money.
Brands build reputation. They are focused on all types of engagement before, during, and after the transaction.
Retail is about selling your product or service.
Brand is about why they buy it from you.
It’s not enough to tell people how valuable your product or service is. You must share a compelling reason to buy it from you—and buy it now. Otherwise, your advertising may help your competitor as much as it helps you.
Branding your company separates it from your competitors and makes selling easier. It builds customer loyalty, referrals, and goodwill. Every business should work on both—selling their product and building their brand. They work hand in hand. If they don’t, you’ll have a “whopper” of a problem.