Branding in Taiwan Part 2 – In Part 1 we discussed the general state of Branding in Taiwan. In Part 2, we will talk more about why companies don’t brand or resist branding, and why those reasons should not be roadblocks in establishing a good Brand oriented culture.
Reasons why companies don’t Brand.
- “Honestly, I don’t understand Branding” That’s not something to be ashamed of. At least 99% of the business relationships we have crossed paths with in Taiwan are hard pressed to give you a good definition of Brand. The goal is easy to understand – to establish a company identity that is well recognized in the market. The difficult part is how to get there and that is the skill of “Branding”.
- “We don't make consumer products like Starbucks, Apple so building my brand is not important”. It’s wrong to think that branding is all about attaining the status of a Starbucks or Apple. It doesn’t matter that you sell coffee or wall paneling, we all have customers. Brand is about connecting with your customer at an emotional level, building trust and making the sale.
- “I only have a few customers, so why brand?” Why brand when you are a company supplying components to one or a few customers (e.g. science technology for the government)? You may only have one customer, but your employees are many. Branding is also an exercise in establishing a culture, which means getting all of your employees moving in the same direction. A consistent culture can deliver a strong brand image to your customer, no matter how many you have.
- “Branding will require a lot of investment in time that I don’t have” For established companies, branding doesn’t have to be so black and white – to brand or not to brand is not the question. You can engage in branding with baby steps. You can start with your Brand message and gradually disseminate it in DMs, catalogues, emails – your customers and employees will start to feel the changes. At some point you may want to redesign your website. And then later, you may want to rebrand your logo – Apple did it, Addidas did it, you can do it. Branding is like exercise.
- “Branding requires investment in money” Yes, hiring a consulting company to help you revamp your culture and establish a brand strategy can get pricey.
- “My logo looks old but I don’t want to change it now.” Yes, a nice looking logo helps. And yes, if it matches your business and products, it’s another plus. However, a logo is only part of branding, certainly NOT the most important aspect.
- “My sales are up and so my brand is already doing well.” Just because your sales have been doing well doesn't mean you have a good brand. Let's say new competitors enter the market next year with lower prices and you lose a significant portion of your customers. It is an indication that your products may not have strong brand loyalty. The customers you had are simply following the low-price leader. Think of Starbucks in Taiwan who has maintained a loyal customer following over the last 20 years no matter all the low-priced coffee chains that have entered the market.
And who is to say that your only customer would not go out and find another lower priced competitor with a better image?
It doesn’t matter that you exercise once a week or 5 times a week , every little bit helps. If you are not brand oriented, the years will pass, and you’ll regret not having established a strong brand culture earlier.
However, there is a lot of information on the web and plenty of books to read. Go ahead, and look up “Brand” on Google or Youtube. You could learn it yourself but …
The problem is not what to do. The problem is change. Most companies are caught in the cycle of traditional marketing of promoting products with loud, persuasive, manipulative advertising. They’ve been doing this for years and it’s hard to shift to “Brand” ideology. It really requires a paradigm shift and that’s not easy. Your inclination may be showing off your product capabilities and features, but Brand priority is developing trust with your customers.
The Nike logo was described by my colleague as a “big banana” (sorry Nike). The Addidas logo is simply three stripes. The Sony logo is not a traditional logo at all, but four letters S-O-N-Y. None of these are aesthetically special by any means, and yet they are 3 of the most iconic symbols of all time. It’s not because of the logo itself, but everything that has been built around them; great quality, impeccable service, a clear brand message, and most of all, a pervasive culture that invites the customer into trying something that will make a difference in their lives.
Aside from all of the science behind logos (color, negative space, shape, contrast, symbolism etc.), the most important aspects are that a logo must be unique and simple enough to recognize, like “three stripes”.
In Part III we will explore how successful companies have used Brand Power to their advantage.