A lot of businesses crumbled under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic which broke last two years. In the middle of the worst global recession since World War II, Coca-Cola was able to triple its sales and Tesla stock soared to make it the world’s most valuable auto manufacturer. It’s interesting how these companies were recording huge profits during the COVID-19 lockdown instead of losses.
But how was this possible? Through carefully planned, intentional and consumer-focused branding, businesses like Coca-Cola and Tesla, have ensured that they continue to make huge profits even in an economic recession.
Before we spotlight some very powerful aspects of branding let’s consider an interesting definition by an award-winning pan-African marketer, Thebe Ikalafeng.
What is a brand?
Ikalefeng says branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. The truth remains that whatever people discuss about your product or service is a reflection of how you’ve presented it to them. Your brand needs to be a reflection of your customers’ aspirations, needs and even fears.
Leveraging Branding like Coca-Cola and Tesla
South Africa’s trailblazing entrepreneur, author and public speaker, Vusi Thembekwayo, cites effective branding as a strong shield that protects a business from market forces. He says branding is not getting customers to know about your brand, it’s getting them to identify with it. Vusi describes this as being counter-cyclical, such that even in a recession or slowed economy, customers will continue to spend, sometimes more, on your product to see them through the hard times. Here are some tips in leveraging branding for continuous profit:
Do the Basic Work
Vusi emphasizes the need to determine who your customer is. Consider their age, race, gender, background, education, the level they work at, where they live, where they buy, what they buy, their pressure points as well as pleasure points.
Understand that this will help you know what exactly drives your customers so that you can direct your value proposition to the things that matter. You need to have a clear picture of what customers are willing to spend money on, what they watch or listen to. This will help you make informed decisions on how to create a lasting connection with your customers. In the end, the healthy relationship you’ve built with your customers will keep them coming back for more. They won’t only buy because of the value, but also because they see your brand as a part of their lives.
Remove Your Ego from the Branding Equation
This is another step in ensuring that your brand continues to make huge profits regardless of the covid-19 lockdown or harsh economic times. You need to run with the idea that your business isn’t about you. It’s about something far greater – providing value for generations to come. Vusi says you need to ask yourself, “if you, you’re face and everything you are was not able to show up for business in any way shape or form for the next 24 months, could your product or business sustain itself and grow?”.
This integral part of branding becomes more obvious when you try to recall the names of the CEO of Cocacola, or the head of sales at Tesla. This is because these brands do not rely on the reputation of their heads for growth. As Vusi puts it, they’ve been institutionalised through informed value proposition and a strong relationship with customers over the years. “These brands now live in the romantic repertoire that is your imagination”, he says.
The market is filled with several successful branding campaigns. Don’t get flustered and start to think you have to copy one of those. Remain true to what makes your brand unique and showcase it as much as you can. If you let your brand descend into a pit of mediocrity it won’t be long before customers find out and switch to your more authentic counterpart.