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Is Brand Still Relevant in Your Inbound Marketing Strategy?

By John McTigueMay 11, 2011

Let's face it, the almighty brand is not what it used to be. Household brands like Toyota, BP, Tiger Woods and every bank you care to name have taken an absolute beating in recent years. Consumer revolt is only 140 characters away for any brand, and there is no place to hide. Advertisers and marketers are scratching their heads wondering what happened. Why are we so apparently anti-brand these days? Here are a few clues.

Value is King and Price is Queen

is brand still relevant in inbound marketingI could throw out a bunch of statistics, but consider your own buying behavior:

  • At the grocery store or pharmacy, which do you choose, brand name or generic?
  • Which is more important in your choice of restaurants, name or flavor (and price)?
  • When you buy a car, do you just go for the old family favorite or do you comparison shop?
  • When you buy anything, which is more important, brand name or ratings and reviews from current owners?

Yes, there are plenty of exceptions. Some brands just dominate their markets, like Walmart for example, but there are other choices. We have become educated consumers. We research before we buy and we seek referrals by both friends and perfect strangers in social networks. We do our homework and seek the best value.

Do you still do a lot of impulse buying? I can't remember the last product or service I bought without considering its value first.

What about the B2B space?

I think brand is even less relevant in B2B. We have always sought multiple options in business products and services, and the best value nearly always wins. Why? Because we are accountable to our stakeholders for our purchases, and there is no room for waste. Our buying decisions need to be spot-on, and brand name is only a minor factor compared to "fit" and cost-effectiveness.

Brand identity is still somewhat important. After all, you can have the best inbound marketing program in the world, but if people don't remember who you are, what's the point? My point is, make them remember your name by the value that you offer, not by the brand itself.

What about brand reputation and positioning?

I think these are incorrectly attributed to brand. Reputation is based on the relationships we (people) build with customers. This has little to do with brand these days. We position ourselves in the marketplace by the unique value proposition we bring to the party, not by our brand name. Note that it's not called "unique brand proposition". Value and perceived trustworthiness (of our people) is everything in competition.

What do you think?

As marketers, are we still pushing the almighty brand? Shouldn't we be focusing on communicating the value of our clients' offerings.

Photo credit: bunnicula

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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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