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Promotional Product Strategy

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Branding to Trustmark: It is Time to Move Your Company

All successful companies brand themselves in the marketplace and this brand is more than just a name or logo. This branding is developed through marketing to cultivate a specific identity and reputation for the company. Through this identity, the company can differentiate itself within the marketplace from its competitors. According to Scott F. Geld, “A brand is essentially a way of communicating a promise or an exchange between you and your customers. It is a way of you communicating to your customer who you are and what you promise to deliver to them.” When the company uses this philosophy for the basis of all of their marketing efforts, it is telling its customers that the company can deliver to them on all different levels—this company is the best and most preferred within the marketplace. What a perception for customers! On a subconscious, if not conscious level, the image that has been created by that branding has those customers thinking “I am dealing with the best!”

Think about some of the biggest companies in the world, and you will probably think about Nike with its swoosh logo and theme of “Just do it.” You associate Volvo with safety, Ritz-Carlton Hotels with luxury, and Apple with innovation.  All of these are strong brands, created by expert marketing over a period of time. Each of these brands kept their promises to their customers: they delivered a better-than-expected product.

You and your company can go further than just branding, however. If you have created a strong brand for your company, you are ready to take that brand and your company to the next level: trustmark.  Kevin Roberts, the brilliant CEO Worldwide for Saatchi + Saatchi, developed this concept after his comprehensive study of companies whose branding went far beyond the norm.  He found that when a company’s brand is consistent with the actions of the people who represent the company and when a company’s values connect with their customers and actually begin to make an emotional connection, that company moves to a higher level of consumer loyalty. As Kevin Roberts said in one of his speeches, “. . .a trustmark plays offense [in the marketplace]. It’s the emotional connection that lets you go out and conquer the world.”

A trustmark deals with emotion, the emotion of your consumer. This trustmark can be a name or symbol which emotionally connects your company with the wants and desires of your customer. Emotion is the key word here—it is a strong, ephemeral feeling that can create formidable customer loyalty, far beyond just loving your product.

When working toward a trustmark, you must allow your customers to “own” your company, or in other words, support what you are doing and feel part of it. Coca-Cola moved into the trustmark level many years ago, and severely under-estimated the loyalty of their customers. In a push to do something fresh, Coke executives allowed the creation of New Coke and then suffered the tremendous wrath of their loyal customers. They had not realized that the customers were actually part of their business—they actually felt that they had a part in the decisions of the company. Trustmark. Emotional connection. Coca-Cola executives wisely removed the new product immediately.

Including a personal touch when you market your company will also cement this emotional connection. Witness McDonald’s ad campaign for chicken nuggets. The young man at the front of the line makes eye-contact with the lovely young woman at a table, then turns back to order. An older (implied “wiser”) man behind him in line says, “Order the 20 chicken nuggets and share them with her.” Nothing was said after this, but the next scene is of the two young people sharing a box of the nuggets, and the young man makes eye contact with the older man. The older man nods in approval. Not many words were used in this commercial, and on a very basic level, they were “selling” the chicken nuggets in the ad, but actually, McDonalds and their ad company were touching on that emotional connection with the viewers. The implication is that people care about one another, people in McDonalds care about one another, and McDonald’s food can help make this caring connection—all of this was done very subtly. Well done, yet emotional.

A sense of mystery also helps to create trustmark. Initiate such interest in your company that your customers want to search out more information; send them to your website, and have all of your pertinent information there.

By pushing your brand upward, you can create trustmark among your customers. By building the trustmark, you will receive customer loyalty for your company and your products that goes far beyond anything that you might expect.