Brands Serve Customers; Customers Don’t Serve Brands

Brands are created to serve customers; customers are not there to serve brands. Brands should do try to change themselves to fit customers’ needs and wants. A brand strategy should not be created and then segments found to fit the strategy; rather customer segments with large lifetime value (customer equity) should be found and then brands should be created to fit their needs.

Companies tend to view brands as encompassing of large segments. However, the proper trend is to create narrower brands in response to more narrow customer segments. In this way, the brands’ strategies can be better tailored to be a better fit to the needs of the segment served.

Remember this: If a brand strategy does not address which customers that it does not want to serve, then its not segmentized!

Implementing this idea of consumer segment driven brand formation is difficult. One reason is that brand managers have their brand turf to protect. Implementing a consumer segment driven brand strategy is only effective when there is top down commitment to it so that the idea permeates company culture.

One way to implement it is to have consumer segment groups and managers within the company that hold the purse strings of the brand managers. Again, remember that the brand is there to serve the customers; the customers are not there to serve the brand.

Also remember that the value of a brand depends on the customer. So, averaging the value of a particular aspect of a brand across a wide range of customers creates an artificial situation where the actions taken in response do not adequately address the feelings of hardly anyone within the customer segment.

Companies can have different brands in the company to appeal to different segments. Instead of trying to keep a changing customer in a certain segment, a company should strive to hand off the customer to another brand within the organization when the customer outgrows the segment. For example, if a person is a loyal customer to Fairfield Inn and then starts becoming a frequent business traveler, it could be time to hand that customer off to a more business oriented member of the Marriott Hotel family; and it may not be the best thing to try to keep him as a customer of the Fairfield Inn brand.

One thought on “Brands Serve Customers; Customers Don’t Serve Brands”

  1. I like your analysis of being committed to buying brands. I am very guilty making purchases by brand until I get stung. That is one reason I will no longer by GM products and Whirlpool appliances are on my “I will never purchase again” list. Companies need to improve on the quality of their products. Obsolescence of their products will keep reputable companies in business.

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