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BrandingModern life is filled with brands; whether we like it or not. Perceptions of the brands we choose, Coke or Pepsi for example, often far outweigh the actual product or service experience. To Pepsi’s constant frustration, blind taste tests show we prefer the taste of Pepsi, yet Coke continues to keep the biggest share of the market. Why? Well, unless we get to sneak a peek at the consumer research of these two behemoths we may never know.

Coke however, has kept its brand relevant with constant innovation and barely noticeable updates to its brand identity. It is a brand that has endured by being keenly attuned to its consumer groups. Therefore, it has protected its equity, which has meant Pepsi just can’t get in front.

When we think of icon brands, each one signals a series of impressions in our minds.  Think of Apple with all the iThis and iThat, Virgin, Shell, Levi’s, Adidas, The Body Shop… It’s guaranteed that your mind just went to work automatically with logos, images, colours, shapes, maybe even sounds and feelings, as you read their names. These are famous brands that have been around a while; well-managed brands endure. And yet what are we buying when we buy a brand? The most obvious aspect is the promise that the brand will live up to its service. It offers us a guarantee. When we analyse it, the components and products that the brand actually sells can change constantly. They are held together by the brand image which enhances loyalty. There was once a farmer who had a favourite axe. “If there’s work to be done, there’s only one axe that I would use. I love that axe – I’ve had it for thirty years”, he’d say. In fact, over its lifetime that axe had nine handles and five heads.

The trick to good brand management then is to firstly create a brand that people can feel something good about, and secondly, stick with it. The aim should be to build consistency across communications with a strong look and feel, or ‘visual language’ that supports the logo. In advertising they call it a ‘tone of voice’. When a brand starts to become recognisable, it will start to reap the rewards. For example, a strong brand can command a premium. There are myriad MP3 players on the market comparable to the iPod, but although the iPod is generally more expensive, it still wins. But brands must deliver: How betrayed do we feel when a company, product or service doesn’t deliver to its implied brand promise? Incensed consumers sued Apple over the non-replaceable battery in the first version.

The brand promise, or USP (unique selling proposition), is often captured in a set of words which aim to differentiate the business from its competition. Market research can tell us if what is being offered is actually what people want. Large corporations do this on a regular basis. In fact, here at Kwik Kopy, we undertake regular customer research. This effects our marketing and business strategies.

As such, you may have already seen that Kwik Kopy Centres are being upgraded with a fresh, inviting look. They are becoming centres of advice rather than ‘print shops’. We realised our Centre Managers and Account Managers have built up a lot of knowledge and we know our clients value this. The Centres also present a fresh and confident design approach, which better reflects the level of design and artwork services available. As Tom Watson, former IBM Chairman said, “Good design is good business”.

For more handy design and printing tips, head to your nearest Kwik Kopy Centre.

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