The information age has killed traditional branding.
In the days of your grandfather's friendly neighbourhood gas-station, banker, grocer, good branding was used to establish trust, signify quality and build authenticity -- the "real thing" if you will. After the advent of consumer radio and television, the brand became less about the actual product or service and more about the psycho-graphics of its target -- us.
The result? Product branding side-stepping reality.
The hard reality for Ford and companies like them is that the information age -- most importantly, the rise of social networks -- means that we no longer really control our brands. The brands of tomorrow will live and die online. And some in a matter of days or hours.
Some thoughts on how to turn things around:
- Stop spending on over-branding strategies -- it's not about the brand identity (you control) it's about the brand essence (they control).
- Start investing in building better products and satisfying customers -- take that one step further and give them a way to share their satisfaction online.
- Be iron clad in knowing that choice, price and convenience outweigh brand in most of your new customers buying decisions -- particularly because they can find information on each at the touch of a button.
- Recognize that branding campaigns via mass communications may actually be hurting your brand -- a "big brand" just invites people to compare value, and it's to your detriment if you're the high cost, moderate value guy.
Brands don't change people's minds anymore. Establish customer loyalty first and your brand will follow.
Or, you could pay someone to write you a jingle.