The Three Cs of Branding

Building a strong brand is an arduous task under constant attack by three challenges: cash, consistency, and clutter, also known as the three Cs of branding. Understanding these challenges and why they exist can help brand-builders champion their brands throughout their organization and gain buy-in from those who might be inadvertently in the way.

Branding Challenge 1: Cash

The biggest challenge for brand champions is cash. Brands are long-term assets and most businesses operate on short-term cycles. If a manager is tasked with increasing quarterly sales and awarded bonuses accordingly, they’re incentivized to make short-term decisions about the brand. For example, a buy-one-get-one offer may motivate customers to buy today, but if this strategy is sustained over a period of time, customers may come to expect that offer. While the manager meets their sales goals and walks away with a big bonus, the brand suffers, as customers come to expect a promotion every time they make a purchase. Eventually this cheapens the brand and, more importantly, drives down profitability for the company. In another post, we explore the power of brand perception and profitability, comparing what customers would pay for identical gold earrings sold at Walmart versus Tiffany.

Branding Challenge 2: Consistency

A brand is a series of associations, and we create those associations through a series of touch points. Touch points reach far beyond advertising. They include customer service, packaging, social media and online community management, word of mouth, and the product or service itself. A successful brand does its best to think about every part of the company and every interaction that a customer has with the company as part of its brand-building strategy. A great product can be tarnished by terrible service, and as a result, the overall brand suffers. Maintaining consistency across all customer touch points is a never-ending task, requiring buy-in from every employee within an organization.

Branding Challenge 3: Clutter

Simply put, there’s a lot of noise out there. A typical person touches their phone more than 2,600 times per day. An average employee sitting at their desk will sort through more than 120 emails in eight hours. We endlessly scroll through Instagram, hear ads on podcasts, see billboards, and watch clips on YouTube.

Brand champions need to cut through the clutter of our daily lives, and there are two ways to break through. The first is tactical excellence, using your limited resources in the smartest way possible. With technology, we can track the entire journey of a customer from awareness to purchase, becoming more efficient with each key insight we learn. The second is harnessing creativity and telling engaging and compelling stories that give customers a reason to care and connect with us.

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