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Value is the Deal
By: Andrew Davis
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At Forbes.com’s MarketShare, BrandKeys Founder & President Robert Passikoff is highlighting 12 branding trends for 2012. “These 12 will have direct consequences to the success, or failure, of next year’s branding, engagement, and marketing efforts,” says Passikoff. Trends such as “Inward Bound” (using a brand’s resonating emotional qualities to differentiate itself in the minds of consumers), and “Real-Time Branding” (the consumer’s expectation for immediate customer service responses from brands) are just two of things discussed by Passikoff.
 
However, Passikoff’s trend, “Value is the deal,” has perhaps the best lesson for brands of them all.
 
“Differentiated and believable brand meaning — emotional, rational, functional, and experiential — becomes a more effective and profitable surrogate for value than low-lower-lowest pricing strategies,” writes Passikoff. “But only the consumer gets to say how ‘valuable’ is actually defined.” To do this, Passikoff suggests that brands listen to consumers, and use their feedback to help shape and grow the brand by "tuning in" to the consumer’s frequency.
 
At Beneath the Brand, the hidden dangers of the “daily deal” and discounting have been covered extensively. However, the lesson can’t be repeated enough, and the “Value is the deal” branding trend once again reinforces the idea that discounting won’t save troubled brands.
 
Just as Passikoff put so succinctly, a brand’s value is the deal for consumers — not the price tag. Even in a down economy, consumers are willing to pay more for a trusted brand if they perceive a greater value in it over a cheaper competitor brand. To consumers, the true “value” of a brand is in how it improves, enhances, or positively changes their lives. It doesn’t necessarily have to be profound, but even saving a few minutes — or even seconds — in their daily routine may be enough to gain a consumer’s loyalty.
 
But, only listening to consumers, and knowing what they see as value, will allow brands to maximize their full potential.
 
Daily deals are a distraction from gaining this type of insight into consumers. And, for brands already on shaky ground, the effects can be devastating. Businesses that opt for the allure of daily deals without first understanding what consumers find valuable about their brands — and making the changes to maximize this value — is like holding an open house on a building that’s only half complete. Sure, consumers may see promising signs of brand value, but the promise of potential value isn’t actually value. And, it surely isn’t enough to turn a one-off, daily deal customer into a loyal consumer.
 
Brands should take a hard look at BrandKey’s trends, especially the first. Brands must take the time to listen to consumers and discover the differentiating factors (this is the "value," in the minds of consumers) that separate them from competitors.

   

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About the Author
Andrew Davis is a Charleston, SC-based creative services consultant to small businesses and non-profits. Follow him on Twitter here.
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