The Power of Branding
I wanted to share with you a recent experience I had. Everybody reading this has probably experienced this at one point in their life…making a product return to a store.
What makes a person return an item for cash or store credit, versus a simple exchange? I submit that it’s perception and perception is created by branding.
Consider the item in the photo. It is a Bissell carpet cleaner that was purchased at Home Depot. About a month after its first use, it stopped working. So it was returned to Home Depot and exchanged for another one. What made me exchange it for an exact duplicate of the broken one was my perception the new one would work fine and for much longer than the old one. That perception was created by years of effort by the Bissell Corporation to create that image in my mind through TV and print branding. So far the new carpet cleaner is working fine.
The counterpoint to this story is another shopping experience I had with Home Depot. At the end of spring I bought a gas powered weed eater and chain saw to help take care of my yard for the summer. I purchased some off-brand that I’d never heard of and both items were very cheap. When I went to put these items to work, I couldn’t get either one to start. I finally got the weed eater to work, but it wouldn’t stay running for more than 10 minutes. After a few days of frustration, I took them back to Home Depot. But I didn’t want to trade them out for duplicates. I didn’t want them at all.
Why is there a difference in these two stories? How did Bissell wind up with a better outcome than Brand X? Perception. Bissell had branded a positive impression into my brain, so there was still trust left when their product failed. Brand X had no branding impression, so even though I purchased their product, its disappointing performance led me to take it back and never buy their product again.
The Internet has taken branding to an entirely different level. What the Internet says about you can make or break even the most expensive marketing campaigns. One night I was watching TV and saw some infomercial from a guy named Kevin Trudeau. I was curious, so I punched his name into Google. The search results are not pretty. I can’t imagine how much money he loses because of negative search results. Not everyone goes to the web, but I think as this medium matures more people will follow the path I just described – initial media contact – web search – buying decision.
I’ll continue this article in part two and discuss how the Internet can help or hurt with branding.