Brands are a means of differentiating a company’s products and services from those of its competitors. Thus branding is absolutely essential for current and future stakeholders. Companies vary in their focus on stakeholders. Some of them may be focusing mainly on their own employees and customers (B2B companies) whereas others may be focusing on their channel (B2C companies). However, ultimately the focus needs to be on satisfying stakeholders.
1) Employees – Your employees make your brand. Take a company like Accenture for example which knows its employees are its asset. Thus they are the first stakeholder who should believe in the Brand. The more employee satisfaction you have, the more will be your attraction as an employer of the right talent which helps the output of the firm.
2) Customers – The more valuable the brand, the more the customer buys the product and also recommends the same. For Premium brands, customers are also ready to shell out more money. For example – BMW, Apple etc. The brand can also be defined by its customers and the type of positioning it has. Furthermore, if the brand has customer equity, it tends to be safer during crisis.
3) Stock / Share Holders – The major asset of any organization is their intellectual property and the major way to get money is from share holders. Thus these stakeholders need to be convinced that your brand has a bright future. Thus branding is of utmost important such that even your share holders come to know from the market that you are the brand they should support.
4) Suppliers – If you are a rubber company, and you are supplying raw material to MRF or Bridgestone, you will likely have an excellent reputation in the market. Thus you will also give equal importance to your customer viz MRF or Bridgestone. Thus the brand equity of the company also affects the supplier, helps him grow his business and also gives you amenities which the supplier might not give to any unbranded company.
5) Intermediaries – Intermediaries like retailers, wholesalers, distributors and in essence your complete channel is motivated by the kind of brand you have. The reason why LG, Samsung, Parle are so strong in the market is because of the trust which their intermediaries have on these brands. They know that the brand will sell. Thus they are likely to give you more attention and thereby increasing your value in the eyes of end customers.
6) Opinion leaders – A company is also affected by its external environment especially in times of crisis. What if you had a brand which is being backed by opinion leaders such as politicians and analysts even in the time of crisis? It will make a huge difference to the morale of your company as well as the movement of your product in the market. Thus opiniong leaders are important and a good brand has a positive influence on opinion leaders as well.
7) Local communities – The reason why E-Choupal and project shakti have taken off because they were backed by brands which had trust even at local levels. In a country like India which has diverse cultures and is vast in its geography, this trust in a brand is pivotal for the success of a new product or marketing plan. Thus branding is important at local levels too.
8) Purchasers and Licensees – The first step is the hardest right? Why is that? Because people dont know you. They dont trust you. At such times, you have to convince others of your potential. But what if you were already established and everybody who is anybody knows you? Do you think a company like HUL or P & G will have difficulty in getting a new license or selling one of their existing products? They wont. Thats the effect of branding. Getting licenses and handling large purchases is smooth for a better known brand.
One of the most important people who need to believe in you are your stakeholders. And branding does that for you. Your stakeholders will back you to the end if you have a strong brand. Thus Branding should be done keeping each and every stakeholder in mind and the tactics should be customized accordingly.