A brand is the character of your company, service or product (see article: What’s your company’s character?) and if you are to maintain a trustworthy image, you need to be consistent throughout every brand touchpoint.
Your marketing strategy will be determined by your marketing mix, and each element of that mix will help define your brand identity.
The graph below, represents the core 4P’s marketing mix Product, Price, Place, Promotion) followed by an extension of 3 more P’s for services (People, Physical evidence, and Process).
Let’s see what they represent and the influence they have on your brand identity.
Product – is all the features that are given to the product (physical, technical, functional), it represents what will meet the needs of your customers. Your brand identity works hand-in-hand with your product marketing, expressing brand values and differentiators, innovations, and specificities that make it better in relation to the needs of your customers.
Price – has a great impact on the level of buying stimulation. Often, paying a higher price makes the customer more satisfied because price is often considered as an indicator of quality. Since services are inherently intangible, price becomes an important factor in triggering the act of purchase when fully appreciating the service’s response to the client’s expectation. In other terms value-for-money.
Place – we’re talking about from where you distribute your goods/services. This is often a complementary aspect of value for the customer. Services are often chosen for their proximity. Access means being local and available. With carbon footprints and supermarket bullying, buying local products has had a renaissance; but when given a comparable offer, customers will almost always choose a local service too. The accountability for service quality and their reputation is more reassuring when it’s just down the road.
Your brand identity can also be affected by your location, some addresses have a better reputation than others.
Promotion – is communication. This is where your a communication strategy is defined, it should be consistent with the quality of the product, its price and its place of distribution. This is a summary of the communication strategy. A strategy that combines public relations and communication is the only way to establish and strengthen brand recognition. This will form a base on which potential customers can evaluate the quality of your services. From a brand image perspective, there should always be consistency in the promotion of a service and its positioning. The way you sell has an impact on perceived quality.
And the 3 extra P’s
People – your staff are crucial in the delivery of services. This can mean courtesy, empathy, competence, attentiveness, creativity, genius even clairvoyance! – it all depends on the objectives of your company and the importance it devotes to the User Experience. To improve your brand image through your staff, you could put your hand in the pocket and hire talent, it could mean that you engage in intensive or continuous training on how to manage customers and cope with the unexpected, or it could be as simple as a presentable receptionist with a smile.
Processes – these are important for providing a regular quality service. As services are partly or wholly immaterial, processes are vital to ensure compliance with expected standards. For a process to be perceived as reliable and therefore an asset to your brand, you need to ensure a form of process mapping that is shared with the customer. This ‘dashboard’ comforts customers by displaying the respect for precision and procedure, and the brand benefits by displaying the transparency (honesty) of your actions with the customer.
Physical evidence – customers need concordant and concrete experiences to judge their satisfaction with your offer. This is where physical evidence plays its role, and can be decisive for the success of the brand. Is your establishment in line with the expected hygiene norms? Are your delivery vehicles rust-buckets? Are you presenting yourselves as experts through tutorials? Do you present prototypes? Are the magazines in your waiting room speaking for you? Does the physical environment of your service represent the brand image that you would like to convey to your customers?
Inversely, your branding contributes to psychological evidence, in that your brand becomes associated with your activity. The same wine tastes different from a plastic beaker and a crystal glass.
These 4 + 3 P’s of marketing are a critical success factor for any service.
Each company’s marking-mix will be an entirely tailor-made, no two are the same, but by remaining consistent with brand values and identity you will shape them into a winning formula.
Bonus… article: How New Marketing P’s Will Influence Your Branding!
Branding Consultant at Pont Bleu Communication
Daren Birchall’s career spans more than 30 years. He is a graphic designer, writer, analyst and communications strategist, marketing consultant, media buyer, production manager, and for quite some time was an advertising agent. He loves photography but his glasses bother him.