Would you buy a Lexus rather than a Toyota? How about a Scion rather than a Toyota?
Any car enthusiast, or anybody who reads the newspapers in fact, will know that if you prefer a Lexus over a Toyota, you are pretty-much buying the same thing…it’s just that you’re paying a lot more for the Lexus. Lexus is a BRAND of Toyota just like Scion is a brand of Toyota. Scion’s are branded and advertised to appeal to an audience of less affluent people, typically the younger generation. The Toyota brand itself is mid-range.
Toyota’s were originally sold under the name of the company’s founder (Kiichiro) Toyoda, but the company went public in 1936 and after a competition was run to design a new logo, the winning entry was three Japanese Katana letters in a circle. However, it was deemed that the name Toyoda wasn’t quite appealing enough to westerners, and the fact that the name ‘Toyoda’ means “fertile rice paddies” convinced the men on the directors-board to change the name to Toyota.
While this may seem trivial at first glance, the fact that Toyota is currently the most successful and largest automobile manufacturer in the world is in part due to its name, and in particular the branding that is associated with that name.
You might think that the company would be equally successful if it had a different name, and in some respects that is true (e.g. Scion and Lexus), however, in opinion-polls, when people hear the name Toyota, they usually describe feelings of comfort, superiority and reliability.
This may not be news to you. What if then, you were to read or hear the name of a drug? What if you were to read the name “Acetaminophen”? or perhaps “Paracetamol”?
What do you think and more importantly, what do you feel if I say the name “Tylenol”? Okay, well you may realize now that the brand Tylenol is in fact Acetaminophen (or Paracetamol in some countries).
You may well be one of the more astute shoppers out there who has the good sense to buy generic brands like Walgreens or CVS, because, after all, it’s the SAME drug, right? Yes, that’s exactly right. The same drug taken in the same quantity will have the same effect on you, right?
And this is where branding comes into play. You see, there are extremely powerful psychological tool well know to medical scientists call “the placebo effect” and this ACTUALLY makes identical drugs work better than others. BRAND name drugs were shown in studies to work better than their generic counterparts.
What’s more astonishing, is the fact that in some cases SUGAR PILLS (just sugar, nothing else) worked better than the ACTUAL generic drug!
Multiple double-blind studies (where even the researchers don’t know what is in each pill) have shown this to be fact. The tests showed that though sugar-pills (placebo’s) don’t work any better than generic drugs, they often work equally well to them.
What must we make of all this? Your BRANDING is probably far more important than you realize. You’ve either taken a lot of time to build your business or you are just starting-out, but either way, you must take your company brand SERIOUSLY, because people will buy brands that they trust. That brand doesn’t have to be a product; it can be YOU or your company name.
Names like Toyota and Heinz are almost priceless, but even on a smaller scale, you must work tirelessly to create and then protect your brand. People must FEEL something when they hear the name and they must feel POSITIVE things. If you work for somebody, brand yourself. If you are starting a company online or off, BRAND the company and if you already have a successful company, make it MORE successful with the power of branding.
If people BELIEVE that something is better, it IS better, it’s that simple.
On a final note, the word “placebo” comes from the Latin meaning “I shall please”, so perhaps we businessmen should reconsider our businesses and ensure that we do indeed “please” our customers, because without customers, we simply can’t have businesses.