Building Brand Value with Features and Benefits
In Part 1 of the Building Brand Value series, you learned what brand value is. Now, it's time to learn how to build brand value with features and benefits. Keep in mind, brand value is rooted in behaviors. Specifically, brand value comes from a company's ability to deliver on consumer expectations for the brand based on their perceptions of it. If the company's behaviors aren't consistent with consumers' expectations, brand value cannot develop. That means you need to make internal branding a top priority, too. If your employees don't believe in your brand and live your brand promise, why should consumers?
Marketing Benefits to Build Brand Value
First-year marketing students can tell you what the differences between features and benefits are and why it's far more effective to promote benefits than it is to promote features. However, a perusal of advertising today reveals far more ads that hype features than benefits.Consider Apple vs. Android smartphone ads. If you do a side-by-side comparison of the features of both products based on their ads, the Android product is likely to be more appealing to a wider audience. It allows Flash, has a slide-out keyboard, and more. However, the iPhone still holds a sizable share of the smartphone market. Why? The answer is emotional benefits. The iPhone brand advertising appeals to emotional triggers such as consumers' desire to belong to a larger group, to be cool, to be creative, and so on. The same could be said of the Mac vs. PC ads that were so popular for years. Windows-based PCs sold physical features while Apple's Mac appealed to emotional benefits.
The ultimate winner in these types of brand battles is the brand that sells why a product matters and why it's meaningful to consumers rather than simply selling what the product is. The trick for marketers is finding ways to make their brands and the products under those brand umbrellas matter to consumers. That's why emotional branding is so effective. Remember what you learned in Part 1 of the Building Brand Value series -- brand valuation is 80% psychological (emotional benefits) and 20% physical (product features). The brand that means something to consumers is the brand that will win.
Creating New Brand Value
Thomson Dawson of PULL Brand Innovation shared on Branding Strategy Insider the following idea about creating brand value: "It's better to create new value than compete for the value created by others." This concept is very much in line with the teaching of Al Ries and Jack Trout in their groundbreaking book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, and it's just as valid now as it was over 20 years ago when that book was first published.
However, Dawson also notes that important things like creating new brand value are often overlooked as short-term priorities take center stage for companies instead. He wrote:"Increasing revenues with the greatest profit margins is the urgent work of business organizations. The more important work of increasing their value to people is often neglected in the frenzied money-making process. This is where most organizations experience dynamic tension – create new value vs. milk the status quo. "Increasing your value to people requires the insight to be two steps ahead of the customer’s stated needs and connecting with their unspoken aspirations and dreams. This is what people really care about. The products/brands that best represent these higher ideals are usually the ones that reshape categories and lead markets."
Perhaps the best example of Dawson's point in recent years is Steve Jobs and Apple. Together, Steve Jobs and Apple delivered products that consumers didn't even know they wanted, but once those products were available, they couldn't live without. By staying ahead of consumers' stated needs and offering products that were meaningful in both psychological and physical ways, Apple redefined its product categories, and all of the other brands are still trying to catch up.
Follow Apple's example and lead with meaningful benefits, not features. Creating new value relies on creating new meaning for consumers. It requires focusing on benefits and emotions above features and physical needs. By creating new meaning, your brand can own its place in the market and build sustainable brand value.Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Building Brand Value series where you'll learn about conducting market research to build brand value. In the meantime, if you missed Part 1, follow the preceding link to read it now and learn more about what brand value is.