Nike, Disney, Coca Cola, Apple, and Sony all have one thing in common. They have built iconic brands that have become recognizable world-wide. Growing up we've been surrounded by brands and they have shaped the way we go about our days, our consumption habits, and our opinions on the best products and services we choose to use. There is an emotional aspect that makes up how we view brands in the present and even more in the future.
So how are brands developed and why are they so important? We live in a global economy where barriers to entry are at historic lows proving that branding is one of the only ways that companies can differentiate from their competitors. Millennials are more demanding of brands that are conscious and aligned with their personal political viewpoints and interests. Statements about donating towards causes or taking steps to become more environmentally conscience goes a long way with consumers today.
An example of how a company is trying to establish brand strength is Chipotle, a food brand, that has built a loyal following even with controversial health issues in the past. Chipotle is focused on providing quality fast casual food, but recently they launched a clothing line, because they understand that this will help strengthen their the loyal customers. By building a brand a business is able to take up more mindshare of people that will use the product/ service more often.
So, there is a shift from Stakeholder capitalism to Shareholder capitalism because investors don't have the same influence over businesses like they once did. The customer now has more power over a businesses focus and approach in what they create and whether they operate in a environmentally conscious way. Social Media has been a catalyst for how consumers have more power in what products perform well. Consumers are realizing that a purchase for product X is a economic vote towards X and by purchasing certain goods and ignoring others they are able to influence brands from their buying patterns.
In the end, branding can make or break a company. It takes decades to build a brand and only one big mistake to cripple a business. Next time your buy new clothes or shop online, remember, your choices actually have a direct impact on how companies are conducting business and you have the ability to influence businesses to align more with what matters to you.
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