Why You Should Not Focus on Branding at the Local Level

Branding, branding everywhere branding.  

When you talk to people about marketing this is generally what people consider marketing.  Before I explain why it doesn’t work for a local business, here’s where branding came from.

The Start of Branding

Branding in marketing started when a little thing called television first came about.  Remember at the time, there were only three networks and everybody was captivated by this new form of media.

Now it didn’t take long for the large national companies to figure out all they had to do was run ads and they would get almost everybody in the country to see their products.  At the time the ads were very cheap and they ran for as long as two minutes, so the companies had plenty of time to still market on the benefits of their products.

Soon all the big players caught on and the bidding for time started to increase the price of the airtime.  With the increase, the time allotted went from two minute long commercials down to 30 second slots like we see today.  

Soon the only companies that could afford this prime airtime were large national corporations.  It made sense for them to buy the time because they were still getting in front of basically the whole country.  But, as the ad time decreases so the did the message.  Now there was no time to put in the benefits of buying their product, but just some fancy slogan, jingle and logo.

Everybody is taught Branding

So fast forward, when the universities taught marketing they used and still do use this model today.

After all it seems that it’s working for these huge players.  But when you have huge marketing budgets of billions of dollars, just plastering your slogan everywhere will create ‘awareness’.  For instance check out these companies marketing budgets according to Investopedia for 2011.

Procter & Gamble-3 BillionGeneral Motors-13.9 BillionTime Warner-1.28 BillionPfizer-1.2 Billion

This is why everybody is taught to believe that branding your company is the way to go.  

On the local level, you are throwing your money in the wind and hoping it will stick if you are focusing on branding.  By this I mean just using creative slogans, logos or jingles to attempt to build awareness in your marketplace.  

Nobody cares who you are until they know if you can help them.

So the argument that most branders will say is that because companies have good branding is why they are so successful.  Their brand may be their reputation now, but if you haven’t experienced their products or services, you wouldn’t have an opinion on their brand.

 Let’s take a large company for example, Apple.  Their brand is great looking products that work.  At least that’s what it means to me.  It’s not because they have a cool logo that their products are good.  It’s because of the great products that their brand is successful.  Now if you have never heard of Apple, would you know that just by seeing their logo?

Now imagine you are trying to build a brand on the local level.  If you don’t tell your prospects of the benefits of doing business with you, why would they buy from you.

Start with a strategic message of the advantages of doing business with you and then spread the message to your potential clients.  On the local level, you need to differentiate yourself from everybody else with the use of strategic messaging.

Check out the post next week explaining how to use strategic messaging and direct marketing.

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