Auto Service World
Feature   June 1, 2000   by Auto Service World

COVER STORY: Brand Versus Product

While not unique among automotive products, the categories of exhaust and ride control do possess among the highest levels of brand recognition among consumers, the product of decades of advertising names like Monroe and Gabriel.

What the consumer at large does not know is what those products cost. At best, they will have seen advertised prices. This can be easily countered with a phrase like “that price is only for a certain model, which is not your car. See how it says ‘as low as’.”

However, retaining brand value in the aftermarket has become problematic. It may stem from a lack of understanding of the difference between product and brand.

The product is defined by what it is and what it does, its form and function; physical attributes, such as price, performance, and ease of use, design and style. What a product is can be relatively easily communicated.

The brand is almost the opposite on all points. Whereas the product has a form, the brand does not have a physical embodiment. It is merely a promise, a covenant with the customer, and that takes time to develop. It is also why many companies spend millions of dollars a year talking to the consumer. It goes beyond the logo. A logo is meaningless if it does not communicate the brand’s covenant with the consumer.

There is value in that covenant, value that can be translated into dollars and cents. The exception is if the communication with the customer devalues that brand, whether by focusing solely on the functionality of the product or by ignoring the brand’s impact altogether.

Maybe you should be training your people to talk about Features, Advantages and Brand.

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