It’s a hot summer’s day in the 80’s.  You enter a shopping centre to escape the scorching heat and are presented with two icy, unlabeled beverages.  No bottles or cans to persuade you with.  It all comes down to taste, and you’re the taster.

This was known as “The Pepsi Challenge”, and was conducted in an effort to prove that Pepsi was superior on the taste scale. People were offered two drinks from two cups, and asked to rate their preference for each.  One of the cups contained Coca Cola and the other one Pepsi Cola. And the big winner? You might be surprised, but it was Pepsi. By a landslide.

Yet, Coca Cola outsells Pepsi still to this day. In fact, Coke is considered the second most well-recognized term around the globe after the word “no” and  their diet version outsells Pepsi’s main drink on every shelf.  Even the fact that Pepsi is priced lower than Coke doesn’t help to change this painful reality. Would it change if Pepsi would actually price themselves higher? I doubt it. But it’s definitely a subject for debate.

That is the power of branding.  It can cost more, taste less and still be the buyers’ choice.  You’re likely to trust a successful brand, choose a branded product by default, spend more money on it, and at times, even show it off.

Simply put, branded products aren’t only the a consumer favorite, they actually become the default choice.  To become a household name, you must first start as a brand.  The end goal is to be in the forefront of a consumer’s mind, so that is it your service or product they think of first when the need arises.  In fact, the extent to which some brands have achieved this is evident in the configuration of our mental vocabulary – think ‘Hoover’ and ‘Pampers’ which are not products at all but brands.

The brand adds an extra value; at times it manipulates the senses as well, as seen with the cola example . And that equals loyal and repeat customers, it translates into the ability to charge more for the same product or service – simply because it’s branded. A brand also involves trust, customers will stop examining your every action once your brand has gained their trust. Same as when you compare prices and find ‘the store’ that proved to be cheaper than others on three products – you’ll simply stop checking and comparing and do all your shopping at that store, sometimes for years – without ever looking back to compare prices again.

Does it mean that you HAVE to be the Coca Cola of your line of business? Is this always the way, the only way?
Definitely not. If your product isn’t designed to be a top niche, or if the upper scale of your market is already tight, you might want to aim low by choice and conquer consumers that were otherwise missed by the big players. It might be missing the sparks but the income will roll in and your customers and family will smile. You can be a trusted brand for the cheapest price, for the largest variety, for the most honest services, or whatever can set you apart from the rest.

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