If I tell you, selling isn’t important but branding is, what would you make of it?
You walk up to the store to buy chili sauce. You have three different brands stacked up there. One gaze and each of them from a distance and you see something familiar.
You see a brand which makes the ketchup that you love. You’ve been buying that brand since forever, and their tomato ketchup is great.
You have noticed just now that they also make chili sauce, which you didn’t know off until now.
Your love for the brand is immense and now you know exactly which one of those three brands you have got to buy now.
You pick it up, walk up to the cashier and get it billed.
So the question is where did the buying happen? At the cashier, whose billing console is suggestively called as the point-of-sale? Or somewhere else?
It happened much earlier.
A lot of buying takes place as the customers pick and choose among various brands. But then where’s the selling? Where is the persuasion and where is the pull?
The selling is in the branding.
The moment of truth has shifted and has come much earlier in time than it ever was. And it has reached at this point gradually.
In the past, Indian marriages used to happen in a really conservative way. These were the arranged marriages, which is what most of the marriages were back then. The bride and the groom never really used to see each other before the day of the marriage.
The moment of truth was only when the marriage happened. Only then would both of them get to see each other for the first time.
The culture moved towards a more liberal form of marriage. The bride and the groom could see each other during the final few meetings before the marriage when most of the discussion was already done by the families.
Cut to today – the age of love marriages. The moment of truth has shifted to colleges and even schools!
The moment you see someone and develop affectionate feelings for them is when you have a been sold (or bowled over, as they say).
The selling has happened.
People buy brands, not products
You may be in college but you know you are going to marry that person. You are sold. Is there anyone else who can come in and persuade you to pursue them, instead?
In that situation I gave you at the beginning, you had no clue what that new chili sauce of the brand you cherish tastes like.
But did you really care?
Because the fact is, people buy brands, and not products.
In this great book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, for which I insist that every MBA student or marketing person must read, Al Ries rightly mentions – Marketing is branding.
These two concepts are so inextricably linked that it’s impossible to separate them.
A company is in the business of marketing, it’s the entire company’s job. And therefore, the entire company is in the business of building a brand, the business of branding themselves.
Because at the end of the day the brand sells, not the product.
Take the example of the iPhone. How many of the Apple fanatics among us would wait for months and years, looking forward to only buy the new iPhone, coming out next year or even later?
What would that product really offer, nobody really knows.
But, what we buy is the brand. Repeatedly and unquestioningly, maintaining the sanctity of our love marriage with it.