How do I identify poorly managed companies

Brand managementNo brand without an identity

The philosopher René Descartes would have better supplemented his insight “I think, therefore I am” with another: “I feel, therefore I am.” Neuroscientists assume that over 90 percent of decisions are based on emotions. Not only the Enlightenment, but also economics taught us mathematical and rational thinking and acting. However, it does not teach us how to deal with emotional decision-making processes.

Products are often interchangeable

Emotional decision-making processes play a central role for marketing, sales and the corporate brand. If, from an economic point of view, the primary aim is to sell products or services at a profit, many marketing concepts often fail due to emotional barriers such as overstimulation, mass communication, interchangeability and oversaturated markets. Obviously there are many other forces acting on the decision-making process that we cannot control.

Example: A seller has the best arguments for a product, offers generous discounts - and the customer still does not buy. The advertising pressure and the number of measures are then increased, but it is still not possible to say exactly which measures and in which combination have triggered a reaction or not. It is easy to answer why this is so: People only make important decisions when their gut instinct gives them a positive signal.

Additional components in the marketing mix

The components of product, price, distribution and communication policy in the marketing mix, in English "Product", "Price", "Place" and "Promotion", should be expanded to include the components "Process", "People" and "Personality" can be added. "People" and "Personality" relate to the competence and culture lived by companies and their employees ("People") as well as to an identity-creating corporate personality ("Personality").

The classic marketing mix consists of the four marketing instruments product policy, price policy, distribution policy and communication policy. Specifically, it is about offering the right offer for the target group at reasonable conditions, selling it through the right sales channels and informing the target group that the offer is available and that it provides added value.

Selling is always about trust. In addition to the quality and reliability of the products preached by the founder of brand technology, Hans Domizlaff, the building blocks of identity and culture are essential foundations for successful sales and gaining public trust. They are important keys to decision-making processes, which do not take place rationally but emotionally.

Every company has its own identity

When thinking about a company, the first thing that comes to mind is probably its products, sales, and revenue. But there is also a second perspective: A company also has a soul and a spirit. It has its own charisma and attraction, which differ in strength. There are traits and characteristics of their own that are perceived and identified from the outside. Everything that happens in the company, what the company communicates or does not communicate, defines its identity.

In some companies, employees are seen as human capital or a cost factor. But it is people who shape the company and who help to realize the common ideas and to become successful. Many medium-sized entrepreneurs share this point of view. A great advantage, because only what burns inside can shine outside.

Big personalities often shape big companies

In addition, managing directors or senior employees often play a central role in shaping the corporate identity. Because they are at the center of the action not only with their function, but also as a person and person with their opinions, convictions, desires, needs and feelings. Great personalities such as Ferdinand Porsche or Steve Jobs have often shaped great companies. People are and were part of the brand and its cult.

So companies are inevitably a space in which emotions, convictions, values ​​and identity are lived. Unfortunately, only a few entrepreneurs know how to deal with this important capital in a way that adds value.

Brand and product are not the same

A strong brand and a strong product are unbeatable as a team. However, if the product weakens, the brand also weakens. And when the brand weakens, it affects the product as well. Brand and product are closely related and yet are not the same. The customer identifies with the brand, its values, its culture and its convictions. The product “only” fulfills the specific promise of experience or benefit. This prioritization, namely that the brand carries the product, so to speak, also explains the immovable loyalty of Apple fans to the brand - although the company also had weak or even defective products on the market.

A brand is therefore more resilient and sustainable than the product. Business success depends on the healthy coexistence of brand and product. But most entrepreneurs still think in a product-centric way. Apple has shown that this is not the case: on just one weekend in the summer of 2013, the group sold nine million of its smartphone models “iPhone 5s” and “iPhone 5c”. At a retail price of around 600 euros, this is not a success of the new model, but further proof that people are convinced that they are happier with the Apple brand. A result that is not attributable to advertising communication, but to the effect of substantial and continuous work on the brand with a strong identity and distinctive culture.

Brands are managed top-down

As chairmen of the board of directors, managing directors or owners of a company, people can influence the corporate identity and culture through their presence alone. So you are able to shape and develop both the product and the brand. Brand management actually starts with company management. In the beliefs, principles, values ​​and attitudes of the leading people. Owner-managed companies have it much easier here than corporations, as there are usually stronger identifying figures here.

At its core, identification processes have something to do with truth, with integrity, i.e. with credibility. If the brand image strays too far from the brand identity, the brand suffers or breaks. Schlecker and Opel are an example of this. Integrity can never be separated from the person, so a strong entrepreneurial personality is often an integral part of a corporate brand. In the case of corporations, this can be clearly seen in the importance of their leaders (such as Josef Ackermann). But especially in the middle class there are countless examples of strong entrepreneurs who still shape the corporate brand today.

Brands represent expectations and longings

There is no such thing as a strong brand without a clear identity and without a lived culture. Brands are abstract structures, a memory product, but they function according to ancient, deeply human (psychological) patterns. Each brand not only represents a sender personality, but also the expectations and longings that the customer or employee associates with it. Together with the impressions that people gain through communication, reports and experiences from and with the brand, an imaginary image of a personality is formed that triggers sympathy, trust and willingness to buy.

The aim is to identify customers and employees with the brand as much and as deeply as possible, as well as a high level of correspondence between the emotional offer and the emotional expectation. In brand management, we speak of consistency. The many signals, messages and brand ambassadors (representatives and recommenders) should have as few contradictions as possible. The stronger the impression that the brand makes.

Strong brands such as Miele, Otto or Daimler have retained the strong charisma of their entrepreneurial personalities even after their death and live from the myth, the stored value with which the brands were loaded. At some point the values ​​that were valid at the time were firmly anchored in the brand management and it was ensured that the brand lived by these values ​​and communicated them consistently and sustainably.

Brands become strong from within

Working on the brand basically requires dealing with the prevailing beliefs and defining the values ​​and principles. What you don't know cannot be defined or communicated as a message. Even more important: The basis for a targeted comparison of the values ​​with the employees in the company or with the marketing and sales activities is missing. This “self-resemblance” is needed to bundle strengths and convictions and initially to work out a strong internal identity - a clearly defined self-image - and to convey this clearly and effectively to the outside world in the second step and to build up a clear brand image.

The clearer the self-image, the more character and power it gets and forms a unique identity and corporate culture that is expressed in behavior, language, symbols and artifacts. A defined brand core thus creates many forms of expression that help the customer or potential employee to identify with the brand and the charisma of the brand gains in value.

From product competition to brand competition

Most entrepreneurs and marketers know that they need a USP to compete. But many products no longer differ from the competition. How should the customer decide when similar products are offered at similar prices? So more differentiating features are needed to help the customer make a decision. When developing a differentiating positioning, not only the product and the added value should be considered, but also the differentiation of the brand with its personality from the competition.

In fact, customers have made a preliminary decision before a sales rep speaks to them. All information and impressions that have flowed previously have already led to a preliminary assumption before the rational decision-making process has taken place at the product level. The expert for brand management Klaus Brandmeyer calls this "the positive prejudice" that a company can fall back on when it has developed a brand with a strong charisma. Long before the rational arguments, the effect of the brand has already captured the playing field emotionally.

The customer unconsciously asks himself three questions: Do I care? Do i trust Does it excite me? Good salespeople know this and approach these topics intuitively in conversation. They don't get bored, they build trust, create identification and can inspire. Strategic brand management must also follow this principle.

Brand ambassadors are the best advertisers

Brand ambassadors are a last important component of success. Not to be confused with the methods of referral marketing, although they are about similar things. A brand ambassador speaks of the brand out of conviction and enthusiasm. Its goal is not sales, commission, or credit. A brand ambassador is authentic and builds trust. Trust that pays for the brand. Example: fans of brands who identify with them so strongly that they not only recommend them, but also defend them. The international agency Saatchi & Saatchi calls brands that become so emotionally strong “Lovemarks”. There is no higher seal of approval.

The strength of owner-managed companies lies particularly where personality and responsibility are lived in a substantial and sustainable manner. This source creates a unique corporate personality, the basis of the brand. Companies that strive for a differentiating company and product positioning as well as a brand with high attractiveness and identification power can convince and inspire customers and employees over the long term and are demonstrably more successful.