A strong brand allows you freedom to experiment and pursue a direction than others

The directorial duo from Printalent in Chennai believe that "the main advantage in building a strong brand is that it allows you to stand out in the crowd" A print management exclusive.

28 Oct 2014 | By Suresh Verghis & K Radhakrishnan

Recently during our discussions with a well-known packaging printer, he told us: “Some of our key customers have been with us for over 15 years. They trust us to deliver quality and service, of course. But more important, during those rare occasions when we do mess up, they trust us to own up our mistakes and be honest with them. They have total confidence that we will not shirk our responsibility and will act in an ethical manner.”
Honesty. Trust. Ethical Behaviour. Unconsciously, this printer was articulating what his company, his “brand” meant to his customers. In marketing parlance, we call them “brand values”. But before we touch upon this important topic, let us examine in some depth, the advantages in building a strong brand. 
In a previous article (PrintWeek India, September 2014) we mentioned that a strong brand will always have a set of simple meanings and attributes which can be clearly and easily communicated to its audience. Taking this further, we can say if these key attributes are absent, the product/service offered is just a commodity, not a brand.
The main advantage in building a strong brand is that it allows you to stand out in the crowd. You are different. In your customer’s perception, you stand for something, whether it be Innovation, Technology, Fast Turnaround or like in the above example, Honesty, Trust, Ethics. The customer is associating you with one or two of these key attributes. This is a very powerful connect and builds that very important asset called “customer loyalty”.
An indirect fallout of this could be that you are able to charge a premium for your product or service. Of course, the cynical amongst us may say, this never happens in the real world and customers are interested only in the lowest price. But please pause for a moment: Imagine a scenario, where a customer’s perception of a certain printer is that of a technology leader who always invests in new technology and delivers better “value add” to his products. Don’t you think this customer will be more open to a price increase from this printer, if this perception is deeply embedded in him? Of course, the customer is going to block, object and negotiate like everyone else, but chances are that this printer will succeed in getting a better price from this customer than the competition.
There is no doubt if you are a strong brand, it allows you the freedom to experiment and pursue a different direction than others. Let us say you are packaging printer known as an “innovator” in the industry and if you are setting up an internal R&D centre experimenting with different surface coatings and finishes, customers are going to talk about you even more, because your move is in total conformity with the perception they have in mind about you as an “innovator”.
Yes, strong brands get talked about. There is a sense of pride, belonging and participation in associating oneself with a strong brand. How many times have you heard the refrain “We always get our calendars printed only by XYZ in Mumbai” or “All our carton and label requirements are met by ABC Packaging, because they are the best in the business”?
It is an ideal place to be, if your customers have become your best brand ambassadors. It is an enviable place to be, if your customers keep coming back, giving you repeat business. Not only repeat business, but probably, a greater chunk of their overall business. Competition becomes, if not totally irrelevant, at least not so important any more.
That you win awards and get written up by the trade press is just an icing on the cake!