The brand is not an end in itself. It needs to be managed for what it is – an instrument for company growth and profitability, a business tool. Does branding affect all companies? Yes.
Are all companies aware of this? No. For many industrial companies or commodity sellers, the concept of the brand applies only to mass markets, high-consumption products and the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector. This is a misconception. A brand is a name that influences buyers and prescribers alike. Industrial brands have their own markets:
Air Liquide sells to industry, Somfy sells its tubular motors to window-blind installers and fitters, Saint Gobain Gypsum and Lafarge sell to companies and craftspeople in the construction and public works sectors, and the William Pitters company is famous among retailers for the quality of its trade relationships.
Nevertheless, these companies are affected by brands in a variety of ways:
In this way, Lafarge – a world leader in construction materials – invested several million euros on informing the general public about the advances made possible by its innovations, in order to create a demand for its products among people who would live in the flats or work in the offices built by its clients. In relationships with intermediaries and distributors, the brand is an instrument of power.
Another typical example is Somfy, a world leader in motors for window blinds and openings for home use: this leadership has been earned through changing its OEM business model and refocusing the brand on the end user, just as Intel, Lycra, Woolmark and others have successfully done. After all, what do you say to a window-blind dealer for whom the Somfy motor makes up 35 per cent of the product cost and who is threatening to source the part from China at half the price? Somfy fears being relegated to the role of a mere OEM player: hence its increasingly high-profile public ‘Somfy powered’ strategy.
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