Reverse Branding 101

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‘Reverse Branding’ may come across as an unfamiliar term to many of us. In order to decode it, we need to understand that Branding starts with a brand and then goes on to creating an association. Example: the brand Volvo and its association with ‘safety’. Reverse Branding on the other hand, starts with a category and then moves on to positioning the brand as the ideal choice for that requirement. Example: ‘Online searching’ and Google.

As consumers have become savvier, traditional branding efforts are proving to be more and more ineffective. With a plethora of brands in the marketplace today, Reverse Branding is the way to move forward. More and more consumers are conscious of how companies are affecting the world and are choosing those that leave a positive mark around them. This makes Reverse Branding more important than ever! Here are some pointers to help you better understand Reverse Branding:

Developing a personal connection with your consumers: Ryan Karpeles from Living Light Bulb says, “Kindness, mixed with a little bit of creativity, goes a long way in a world filled with companies who consistently settle for the bare minimum.” Work towards creating an emotional connection with your consumers in creative ways. While it may seem to be a big task and require you to invest more time and energy but the efforts will be well worth it. Once you’ve established that connection, you will be rewarded not just with traditional loyalty but also a tribe of brand advocates. Joe Girard, an American Car Salesman held the Guinness Book of World Record for selling more cars than 95% of American car

dealerships put together, for 14 years. He did not have the advantage of email drip-campaigns or the ability to retweet a customer’s social media appreciation. Then how did he manage this extraordinary feat? He sent every single customer, a handwritten letter once a month, in which he wrote, “I Like You”. If there was a major holiday in the month or the client’s birthday or anniversary, the note would mention that as well.

Associating with a cause: Consumers today are more likely to vote for and buy from brands that are associated with a cause. Millenials, who make for the major chunk of today’s consumers, focus on a brand’s value and gravitate towards those that conduct business ethically. Over time, TOMS shoes has managed to build a strong brand around social impact and consumers have come to associate it with social good.

Developing a story through your product: Karpeles says, “Customers can latch on to stories. They can’t latch on to corporate buzzwords and abstract slogans.” Millenials particularly, are highly attuned to a story a brand tells, so weave an interesting story – one that your customers can internalize. Nike understands this well and has been leveraging the power of good story telling longer most of us have been online! Nearly everything Nike does has a back story to it and yet, it doesn’t just tell its own stories but gives a passionate voice to others’ as well.

To conclude, people rarely think about the actual brand at first. First they identify what it is that they want and once they know it, they decide on who can fulfil that desire. As a brand, one needs to make sure they fit into the ‘who’ of it. This is the essence of Reverse Branding.



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