A Private Equity acquisition that creates a new entity requires a distinctive brand that conveys value and stands out in the crowd. This is particularly true for newly acquired companies that need to quickly and effectively establish a credible and competitive brand platform for their acquisition.
Perhaps the oldest and best-known example of that is Coca-Cola. Its flagship soft drink is mostly carbonated water, coloring and a little bit of flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I like Coke and drink a glass almost every day. But what distinguishes it as a brand isn’t only the flavor. It’s the 100+ years of brand equity, based on a simple color scheme and a curved bottle that make it so instantly recognizable. Without those brand assets, it’s simply another cola, a commodity that would need to compete solely on price rather than its distinctiveness.
And that may be the most valuable lesson of why a strong brand is so vital: Without it, you’re a commodity competing on price, not value. It really has little to do with how a company or product functions or its selling proposition, but it is the core elements that make the brand different and recognizable. These unique elements – in the case of Coke, the shape of the bottle and red and white color palette – and known as its “distinctive assets.” These are the crown jewels of the brand. The more distinctive, the more recognition and brand loyalty from customers. And that means revenues.
And that’s why selecting the core elements of the brand, including color, iconography, style and the logo itself, is so important. Marketers can control a brand’s prevalence in the market. More media buys, sponsorships and advertising translate into prevalence. But uniqueness is more difficult to maintain, for the simple reason that competitors may be using or decide to use those same brand elements. But if you’re using a brand element that is too closely tied to others in the market, that means that your marketing and advertising dollars are being spent at least in part to help your competitors. Identifying those key brand elements and monitoring the competitive landscape to ensure that others aren’t using the same elements is key to a successful brand management strategy.
Here are three key tips for managing your brand’s distinctiveness in the market:
- Ask your customers what they think about your brand’s uniqueness. They are your early warning system to what’s happening across your market.
- Leverage your distinctive assets across every campaign to maintain consistency. And do the same for advertising and marketing creative.
- Monitor the industry closely for anything that looks similar to your brand assets.