Sunday, December 7, 2008

Startup Stuff: Branding Tips for Beginners

Hi there kabayan, here’s another post from your resident bloggerista and this time we’ll be talking about brands and branding (no, I’m not talking about brandy-gulping “badings”).

Last November 20, Thursday, four-eyed guy Bam Aquino interviewed Brandlab guy Jos Ortega (Chairman and CEO of Brandlab), and the two talked about brands and branding. Four-eyed Bam asked, Brandlab Jos answered. Brandlab Jos talked, four-eyed Bam listened.

If you’re one tip-thirsty “moneyminder” who wants to know more about brands and branding, then this post is for you. You can either read through the whole Great-Wall-of-China-long interview below, or you can go directly to my “Start Up Tips to Remember” section found at the bottom of this post (highly recommended if you want to save time, but then again, you can always bookmark this post :-)).

(START)

BAM: If you look at, a, your product, your particular business, you start off with that, in choosing a good name. A, but it’s more than just a name, right?

JOS: Oh definitely, definitely. You obviously have to start with what your product or service is. That still is the core of it all, no. I mean the names’ just going to provide that, embellish that, but (the idea of?) the whole thing is making sure you have (a) product or service that is, a, shall we say, closest to pain. Because if it’s closest to pain then you know that there is a need for your product or service. Somebody out there is going to have to go for it.

BAM: And there are many cases na, na the products are really good products, where they can compete with other products in the world, but, a, their branding is as really bad, right, and if your branding is bad, your product won’t sell, no matter how good it is.

JOS: Well, it’s combination. I think it’s a, right now you have the rational and emotional benefits that are always into play. In fact today, it’s even going beyond now, sometimes it’s about the experiential side of it already, so it’s moving forward, the relationship is moving forward.

Good branding offers rational, emotional and experiential benefits. (Source: Start Up)

BAM: Can, can you give us examples Jos of some companies that you’ve helped with their branding?

JOS: Ok, well, if you wanna go with the bigger scale and (or?) the smaller scale, let’s go with the bigger scale. I think one of the most recent ones that we’ve done is, um, brand like Trinoma. That’s the one up in Quezon City, and there’s a story behind that. I think what’s interesting in the way we, we do this, create these brands is, is that these brands normally would have a story to tell. As we say it’s a story that we want people to hear and want to share with others.

A strong brand tells a story. (Source: Start Up)

So in itself nai-kwento na, and they want to spread the word around. So in Trinoma there is a story behind it. It is actually located in an area that is in a triangular area. And, you know, this was supposed to be the new business center or new retail center north of, as we know, Makati. So if you look at it, Trinoma is actually an acronym of Trinoma no, Trinoma is actually an acronym of Triangle North of Makati. So there’s a story around that already.

BAM: So pangalan pa lang may kwento na. and that story is important, right? I mean, when people buy products, does that story really matter to them?

JOS: Well, it start the conversation going and it also puts a premise na, “Hey you know what, this is as good as, the Ayala Center in Makati.” So that, that establishes credentials already, by telling that story.

BAM: And by choosing a name like Trinoma, it affects the people that you want to go to Trinoma, the shops that will be seen there. That’s right no, I mean, it affects everything, right?

JOS: It affects everything. It’s the start of a conversation.

BAM: How ‘bout for the smaller scale projects or products, for example, is that story, a, which is a main of branding, is that really important to have?

JOS: it’s a major part because it, as a self, it’s the beginning of the story telling. Great brands have the best stories.

Great brands have the best stories. (Source: Start Up)

One of the more recent ones, about 2 or 3 years ago, that we’ve started, we’ve helped this, a, little foundation in Palawan, and what they do over there is they’ve been helping the fishermen’s wives with, and taught them how to weave, but they’ve brought in a new idea, a new technology where they weave piña with silk, so it’s basically piña-seda.

But you know, to make it more, but to make the whole thing sustainable, we have to be able to sell the products. So it is, when we helped this group, we created a brand for them and we called it Tipiña. So today, this little enterprise, not necessarily, it’s just, you know, a little foundation, socio-civic foundation, has now been promoted with Bergamo, for the barongs and anything.

BAM: So they use the…

JOS: Filipinian-quality weaves and it’s a piña-seda, and you now have a French lady called Elo, Eloise who’s actually, is a French designer, who’s actually using this product in her designs.

BAM: Wow, in France?

JOS: in France, and she actually has a little, she has her own set of people that’s working for her designs exclusively, and then you have, you know, and then on the other side you have already the more popular designers who are now bringing it into their wedding entourage. Now you have like Patrice Diaz, and even Rajo Laurel carries them already right now, so it gets the conversation started.

BAM: That’s right no, it starts the ball rolling. When it comes to, a, looking for opportunities, a, when it comes to people buying products, um, does that story also, is that important also, that branding story, ganun pa rin ba ka-importante ‘yun?

JOS: It’s always anu, to me, as I always say, it has to be a story that people would love to hear and want to share with others. It goes back to that. Because kung wala siyang kwento then, you know, “so what?”

BAM: “So what?” It’s like everything else.

JOS: It’s just any other, any other brand. In today’s world, especially in like, you know, the more, the more technological area, the products can be copied in 3 to 6 months.

BAM: Yeah, they’re all the same.

JOS: In fact, by the time this product in an IT company, by the time your product’s launched, another one’s already probably come up with a better one the next day. So they’re all the same; the branding, and in the reputation of the brand, the experiences you expect from the brand is going to make a difference between them going left or right.

The name and reputation of the brand help consumers make buying decisions. (Source: Start Up)

BAM: I guess no, talking about technology, there are so many MP3 players, but there is only one iPod. Parang ganun ‘yun ‘di ba? So what’s the case then for, say, having a product where the branding is really built-in, a story’s (?), versus going, say, (a) generic products. Um, would you go one or the other, is there a rule there?

JOS: Um. Well, you know what, generic products are, as they are, (?), if you ask my wife, she’s gonna buy the one being made by the Doña Maria.

BAM: Ok, so kung baga, parang, if you’re, kung lalaban ka sa presyo, you go generic, but kung lala, if you want to go to a higher price point, you have to have that branding there.

JOS: You know what, even if, a, even when you go into the supermarket, you go to the barretas, there are the low-priced barretas and there are the higher-priced barretas.

BAM: The higher-priced detergent bars…

JOS: Um, if you look (at) a brand like Surf, it is, very inexpensive. It’s in the lower end of the price spectrum. However, it’s differentiated itself from all the others, wherein in fact, it has created a wonderful story that it’s actually giving Tide a great run for its money.

BAM: Yeah, so, so you have the whole wais thing and the family and all that…

JOS: Exactly. So it’s not just about cheap products, but it’s actually making the people feel, the customers feel na, “Hey, you know what, I am a smart woman for buying this.” So she’s even rewarded for buying it.

BAM: And that’s the branding?

JOS: And that’s all about the brand and the brand idea behind it.

BAM: Ok, we were discussing earlier about living the brand, kung baga, these days, it’s not enough (to have) a brand, a good brand name, it’s not enough to have a good story behind the brand name, but then now, the proprietor have to live the brand. What does that mean exactly?

JOS: It’s about, the, it’s about living the story. What we do is re-create the story, you tell the story and most importantly, you live the story.

Branding 101: Create, tell and live the story. (Source: Start Up)

Um, establishing a relationship is one thing, but keeping the relationship is the harder thing to do. As they say in Starbucks, it’s always about one cup of coffee at a time, one customer at a time. Because you’re only as good as your last brand experience with a customer and all it takes is just one bad experience and you’re gone forever from their life.

BAM: Ok, for people who ant to startup their businesses, um, what is “living the brand” mean? Does that mean they have to use it all the time? Dapat ba they always bring it around with them, they always pitch it, what do you think?

JOS: I think, more than just living, bringing the product, that’s I guess, given, no. if you don’ believe in your product, you have no right to sell it. But I think more importantly, it’s about living the essence of what your brand represents.

Living the brand: Showing the market the essence of the brand, what it stands for and represents. (Source: Start Up)

Because great brands always stand for something, and if you look at the entrepreneurs, the best entrepreneurs, the most successful entrepreneurs are those that have a philosophy of knowing what they stand for beyond making money.

So it’s not just all about the money. A lot of the most successful entrepreneurs, it’s about passion. (I missed this part here because my sister accidentally (?) pulled the TV cord from the socket) Yes, that’s where it starts, as they say nga, it’s a story that people want to hear, want to share with others.

BAM: And actually, with many entrepreneurs, that story evolves. And as their brand story evolves and they live the brand, next thing you know, lumalago na ang negosyo nila, right? How important is building your brand, for maintaining your business, your pesos and centavos kung baga, is that directly related to how well your brand is received by the people?

JOS: Well right now, there are many techniques. (We’re in a) growing world, it’s beyond advertising na, it’s beyond the (30 seconds?) as we call it. So there are many techniques on how to connect and create relationships (now), whereas before, it’s about a one-way communication, the brand just talks to the customers, now, it’s a two-way communication na, in fact, right now, the more aggressive brands are those that are actually getting inputs from their customers, in terms of their product development, in terms of the experiences, so it’s a two-way street already.

The most aggressive brands are those that get inputs from customers. In fact, in the most advanced situations, the brand is not yours anymore, but it is already the customers.

BAM: Wow. So that’s like the next evolution of branding.

JOS: I mean, go to Google, go to, I mean, most of the technological brands now, Google, Facebook, it’s not theirs anymore, it’s, you know, you pull (it) out, (and) people are gonna be, up-in-arms, “that’s my brand, don’t take it out.”

BAM: And that’s really the power of the brand.

JOS: That’s the power of the brand, and the brand experiences power.

BAM: Ok, Jos, many of our viewers are actually starting their own businesses, could you give, say, 3 to 5 tips for those who want to, you know, start up on the right foot with the right brand.

JOS: I guess first thing I always say is, go with your passion. If you’re gonna be an entrepreneur, go with your passion. Go with something that you’re gonna live and die for. (So when) the going gets tough, you know what, that’s what you’re gonna go, that’s what will keep you alive. You’re gonna (go) for that vision and for your passion.

Two, be authentic. Authenticity is very key, because today it’s about relationships and if the relationship is not authentic, people will see through it.

Um, then, once you have that product, and once you have the passionate idea behind it, make sure you have a story, because if it’s not a story that people will want to share with others, it’s just gonna stay there, flat, it’s gonna sit there in the supermarket shelf and just gathering dust.

Um, but I think the most importantly (or important thing?) eventually is how do you maintain a relationship. You must have constant communication with your customers. It’s very hard for us, especially that we’re used to just going one-way all the time, but you know what, in the most advanced cases, it’s not your brand anymore, and that’s about the best thing that can actually happen because you have evangelists out there for your brand. People will fight for you.

BAM: Exactly. Pushing your brand, no? Sometimes (it’s) even more powerful than the best commercial out there.

JOS: Exactly. That’s why you have the popularity of Youtube. A lot of brands have been affected positively and negatively because of Youtube.

BAM: Jos, what an interesting conversation, thank you very much for joining us. Maraming-maraming salamat.

(END)

Start Up Tips to Remember...

Brandlab guy Jos Ortega and Start Up came up with the following tips on branding: (as always, I added some comments after each tip. :-))

1. Building a strong brand is like creating a strong friendship. Give your business a brand and your business will have a face. Give your business a face and people will recognize you. Give your business a friendly face and people will not only recognize you, they will also patronize you. I believe this is how brands work; they give businesses a face that people will instantly recognize and associate with something like beauty, quality, etc.

2. You need to understand your consumer and be attuned to his needs.
This one’s self-explanatory. Businesses will cease to exist without customers. That’s why businesses need to understand their customers’ needs. Do some research, polls, surveys, etc.

3. You must communicate with your consumer because in business, it’s always a 2-way engagement. The way business transactions is done is changing, it’s constantly evolving. In order for businesses today to thrive and grow, they need to constantly communicate with their customers. I believe this is the reason why blogs are so popular nowadays. Businesses on the Web are putting up blogs in order to build/create interaction between them and their customers.

4. And keeping that relationship alive and well requires commitment to keep in touch, and see each other often. Businesses need to value their relationship with their customers. Nowadays, it’s all about relationships. Even if you’re one-hardcore “moneyminder,” remember, it’s not all about the money.

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