Your Brand is Too Valuable to Compromise

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Branding and advertising are not one in the same, though the two words are frequently used interchangeably. A brand is a culture, as well as the essence or soul of an organization. It is the set of values and philosophies that set the foundation that ad campaigns and marketing strategies are built upon. It is key to be consistent with these values with every decision a company makes, and unless a total rebranding is taking place, it is imperative to never compromise in this regard. Your brand is why your loyal customers are loyal, more so than any particular product or service offered, and to betray your brand is to give up your position and lose credibility within your market.

Let’s use a certain automotive manufacturer as an example.

Subaru has long been known as a “quirky” automotive company. They established themselves early on as an organization that was okay with its vehicles not being the most luxurious or best-looking, but making up for it with an abundance of utility and practicality. They offered wagons, hatchbacks and crossovers that came standard with all-wheel drive, making them the perfect cars for adventurers and people who love the outdoors. And while the Subaru family has had a few black sheep throughout the years (their collaboration with Toyota to produce the rear-wheel drive compact sports car, the BRZ was certainly an anomaly), and while their cars have become more approachable, less niched and drastically improved their looks, their core philosophy has remained unchanged.

It is because of these ideals that the company has built a reputation for producing the preferred automobile of environmentalists (hippies, as some would say). Now, with that in mind, what is the automotive manifestation of everything outdoorsy types stand against? The Hummer? Let’s broaden that and say any full-size SUV, though the Hummer is the perfect representation of that big, gluttonous, gas-guzzling segment. Remember when Hummers were all the rage in America in the early 00’s? When it seemed as though every major automotive brand was in a race to produce the largest lane-hog with the least concern for how many gallons of fossil fuels were burned going to the supermarket and back? Well, what if Subaru had entered that segment when it was all the rage and would have surely boosted their sales in the American market? Would that have been beneficial to them?

The short, overwhelmingly likely answer is no.

Whereas the relatively small Japanese company would have likely seen a sales boost in the years of America’s obsession with big, burly sport utility vehicles, it would have been at the expense of years of goodwill they had built with their loyal customers. The phase came and went, and when gas prices began to skyrocket, people quickly abandoned their excessively thirsty vehicles for compact crossovers and hybrids, the former being something Subaru specializes in. What would their position have been if they had compromised their core beliefs to make a quick buck? Would the folks who remained loyal for so many years have taken their business elsewhere? While it’s difficult to say with certainty, all signs point to no. When it comes to brand identity, selling your soul is the ultimate sin.

Having long-term goals and vision is extremely important in branding, so as not to take a huge loss trying in exchange for a short-term victory.

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