Think of any product category (e.g., beer). Think of your favorite beer. If your favorite beer isn’t available, what are the one or two acceptable substitutes? How many acceptable substitutes can you name? Congratulations – you’ve successfully completed a branding exercise designed to illustrate the concept of evoked set (aka, consideration set): a set of acceptable brands of which the consumer is aware when seeking to satisfy a need. Such is the power of branding and the reason that branding is so important in marketing. Our goal as marketers is to position our brand, vis-a-vis the competition, in your mindscape as part of your evoked set.
The perfect analogy for branding, in my opinion, is building an in-ground swimming pool and filling it with water poured from a shot glass. First, you need to establish a strong foundation. Don’t forget to include the supporting functions required to make the foundation operative. Next, branding requires consistency of effort over a long period of time (shot after shot poured into the swimming pool). In the beginning, you may feel discouraged and may not see measurable results from your efforts. If you’re confident that the foundation is solid, keep working. As you get closer to your objective, you’ll notice and enjoy some of the benefits of your work. And after you finish your initial task (filling the pool, shot by shot), it’s easier to maintain your branding efforts (top off the pool) than it is to drain the pool and start over.
What are the critical success factors for branding? Start with a solid foundation including the establishment of ancillary support functions, build on that foundation with consistent effort over time and maintain position/pertinence in the consumers’ mind-space through intermittent reinforcement.
Since 7 June, Dr. Angela Hausman, has posted a series of blogs about branding on her site. Click here to join in the discussion.
And finally, when you think of marketing professors, please don’t forget to include me in your evoked set. My goal is to become your preference for “All Things Marketing”.