[Editors Note: This will be the first of an occasional series of blogs looking at marketing, planning and branding both on and off line from one of our writers, Kelvin Collins. Kelvin has spent many years leading marketing and brand management in financial services giants such as HSBC, The Co-operative and M&S Money. He now works as a freelance marketing consultant and runs two wonderful self catering cottages in the far west of Cornwall.]
For decades brand management was the concern of a few of the big businesses, while most of us were just working hard at doing a good job and making money. But as business management became something that was taught as well as being learnt at the proverbial coal face, so every angle of competitive advantage was gradually explored. Suddenly there was a name for something many of us were doing naturally.
Brand as an influence to purchase is all about emotions and many business people are not comfortable with that thought. In fact most of us would argue that we buy with our heads rather than our hearts, and if that's the case, then what value has a brand?
When I'm talking to those who would argue that building a brand is not important I usually resort to the motor trade for examples. Here I pull thoughts from across manufacturers as well as within manufacturer groups. For now let's take a quick peek at Ford and Mercedes.
The current crop of C-class Mercedes are, in my opinion at least, by far the best looking Cs to date. They are quite excellent cars too offering a comfortable drive in great feeling surroundings.
The latest Mondeo however is probably even better. It has a great driving position, as much space as most could ever need, it's ok to insure, doesn't go wrong, in fact the only thing that might be a problem is that the guy next door could have one too.
Two great cars then, both leagues ahead of even the best that was available say 15 years ago. Now what about price? At the entry level the Mondeo is 53% cheaper than the Mercedes but remains well equipped. At the top of the range though, the Ford is a full 100% cheaper than its Mercedes equivalent. What's more the Mondeo will cost you less pretty much every single day that you own it. Depreciation is the Ford's Achilles heel, yet even this needs to be looked at carefully – if the Ford depreciates at a higher annual percentage, but that's a percentage of a much lower number then our Ford owner may win here too.
Now this is where we get to the point. Is the Mercedes at least 50% better than the Mondeo? Well, no it isn't. In fact it's possible that on most car ownership criteria the Mercedes isn't as good, and yet most of us would aspire to the Mercedes above the Ford.
Do you still need to be convinced about the value of brands and the power of emotion in the purchase decision?
Whether you do or not, still look out for my next article where I'll look at the same topic from the manufacturers' angle.
In case you're wondering – I've been driving Mercedes for the last 15 years, I love the brand, and will always find an argument to support it. I am just what Mercedes wants, even when I completely understand the position I'm in.