Brand vs. Non-Brand … Let the CFO Games Begin

In the article “10 Branding Trends for ’10,” marketing communications professional Francis Anderson discusses the power of consumer branding in 2010. I’ve taken a couple of his points and added personal branding commentary. 

Value is the new black: Consumer spending, even on sale items, will continue to be replaced by a reason-to-buy at all. This may spell  trouble for brands with no authentic meaning, whether high-end or low.

With competition fierce among job seekers, passive candidates still hold the most power and position. Authentically-branded passive candidates hold the trump card.

I stumbled across this on the Internet recently and thought it aptly captured the dilemma of branding inauthenticity. “The inauthentic man faces a difficult balancing act, for he is not only avoiding the truth, he has forgotten where he put the truth.”

Brand differentiation is brand value: The unique meaning of a brand will increase in importance as generic features continue to propagate in the brand landscape. Awareness as a meaningful market force has long been obsolete, and differentiation will be critical for sales and profitability.

Do you know what you have that a company is willing to pay to get? If not, the perception of you may be “commodity” rather than “value.”

“Because I said so” is over: Brand values can be established as a brand identity, but they must believably exist in the mind of the consumer. A brand can’t just say it stands for something and make it so. The consumer will decide, making it more important than ever for a brand to have measures of authenticity that will aid in brand differentiation and consumer engagement.

Branding is NOT who you think you are. Branding IS the perception of you held by others. If, for example, you are a CFO and believe yourself to be a visionary leader but your staff, peers, and bosses view you as a micro-managing bean counter … what are you really?

Consumer expectations are growing: Brands are barely keeping up with consumer expectations now. Every day consumers adopt and devour the latest technologies and innovations, and hunger for more. Smarter marketers will identify and capitalize on unmet expectations. Those brands that understand where the strongest expectations exist will be the brands that survive and prosper.

Being a generalist or jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none  … trying to be all things to all people … might just get you added to the list of endangered species. 

How might CFOs leverage branding to gain competitive market positioning? As William Arruda says, “what makes you unique, makes you successful.”