How powerful is the concept of branding? Strong enough to merit a sales markup of 1,800%, at least. That’s what we found in a recent publicity stunt performed by Payless Shoes, who opened up a prank store which was tailored toward the more high-end clientele. The result? A pair of $20 shoes being sold for as much as $600. That is not a typo. Of course, customers were refunded their money after being informed where their recent purchase really came from, but this does prove that your company’s branding is a very important part of your business.
“[Branding] is a name, term, sign, symbol (or a combination of these) that identifies the maker or seller of the product.“
– Branding definition by Philip Kotler, in his book Principles of Marketing.
1. The Payless “Palessi” Prank
Under the clever pseudonym of “Palessi,” Payless created a store that was geared more towards expensive and fashionable demographics. And in the hustle and bustle of buying Christmas presents for people, shoppers also bought into the prank. After taking over an Armani store that moved its location, employees set up a chic backdrop at the location and stocked it with their own shoes. This meant a pair of sneakers that retailed at $19.99 was suddenly “designer footwear” that received a top offer of $640.00.
It’s important to note that not only did the store’s makeover sell to shoppers more, but that internet “influencers” were invited to the grand opening and asked for their opinion of the store’s products. Online influencers praised the high-quality materials, look, and design of the shoes. Within the first few hours of the store being officially opened, Palessi had sold over $3,000 worth of products.
2. What is Branding in Marketing?
As we’ve touched on before, an effective brand grants you a huge advantage in a competitive market. So tell your market who you are and what you do. Are you a long-term, reliable company? Or the innovative maverick who took the field by storm? Are you the designer equivalent of your business with high costs but also high quality? Or do you take a more low-risk high-reward road? The choice is yours.
Your brand is essentially your promise to your customer. You’re telling them what to expect from your product or service, and how your company is different from your competition. Branding can be the following:
- Qualities of your company
- Public opinion of your products/services
- Benefits and features you can offer
- The company’s mission
- Your logo
- Company message
- Business integration
3. Branding Strategies
Your branding strategy should boil down to a well-designed long-term execution of company policies that directly connect to your consumers’ wants and expectations. Or simply put, “give the people what they want.” And part of your branding strategy will also be to figure out precisely that. What does your demographic want from your products and or services? How can you market those toward the people?
First off, stay flexible. Many brands stick with their initial strategies, but times change, technology changes, and people change. The important part of any company brand should be to change with the times, even with tech-savvy new-age startups. So even when you have a great service or product, always be looking toward the horizon. Many companies have done this that you wouldn’t expect. For example:
- American Express used to be a delivery service
- 3M was a mining company
- Sega used to make slot machines (Service Games)
- Raytheon’s first products were microwaves and refrigerators
- Immigrants brought over the Bank of Italy, now known as Bank of America, to New York
- Bootleggers founded NASCAR
- Samsung began as a groceries store
- Marriott started out as a tiny A&W root beer stand
- Shell was an antique shop that literally sold shells
- Nokia began in 1865 as a paper mill
4. Branding Design
Aside from your business goals, you should also keep in mind that a branding personality will go a long way in helping consumers recognize your brand. More than simple visual design, be sure to keep in mind how you present your brand. Will you use clothing? Billboards? Online Ads? All of these present themselves in different ways and affect people differently. Then comes the task of logo design and how that stands out among the competition.
Market research and user research are also important. Again, simply knowing how your brand is perceived by people is instrumental in getting it across to your demographic. Furthermore, research will help with the future of your brand, and slowly creating an environment where it can thrive. At the very least knowing how your market works can mean the difference between naming your brand “Payless” or “Palessi.”