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The Tasting Room: Branding or Marketing

In selling wine, especially in the tasting room, there is a difference between marketing and branding. Yes, the two are often co-mingled, but they must be interpreted and managed differently. Without a brand identity it is hard to market wine. We do not want to take this discussion into an esoteric direction, however, tasting rooms are an opportunity to go far beyond just selling wine, the real bonus lies in creating a tasting room to sell wine and reinforce a brand identity, i.e. branding.

Maybe it would help to look at branding this way: “Branding is to a company (winery) as personality is to a person. Branding is as much inward as outward-facing. If you have a strong, trustworthy brand, your employees are happier, more motivated, and more loyal,” says Mr. Russel Cooke, A Customer Relationship Manager professional. “Branding is the allocation of resources to promote awareness of your brand, products and services. The purpose of marketing, in a nutshell, is to communicate your brand’s value to potential customers.”

Branding is a process that happens over time; like how our personalities evolve over time, but at some point, the personality becomes defined for people to recognize. Marketing will use advertising (print, radio, TV), designs, collateral materials to build awareness for a brand and hopefully call the consumer to action.

Is a tasting room only for sales? I would submit the answer to be, “a tasting room is a terrible asset to waste solely on sales”. A brand is a legacy asset in perpetuity and sales is fleeting. Wine sales are an effort that must be created anew each season; a brand lives on to be destroyed or strengthened, so chose you brand identity wisely!

In any marketing or branding experience the complexities of successfully executing these tasks are mindboggling; truly. In the wine industry the task can be exponentially more complex because of ancillary issues such as: Federal regulations, outside issues that influence product (weather), and local government constraints, et al. selling coffee mugs should be a bit less complex. In the direct-to-consumer marketing arena, the tasting room is the only place where the winery can control and execute their plans in branding and selling/marketing their product in real time. Here, a visitor comes to you and says, tell me about your product and by-the-way, I want to buy. Wow, what an advantage in marketing!

The tasting room is truly the only face-to-face time a winery has to impact all the human senses that will influence a sale and hopefully a repeat sale. I submit therefore, the visitors interface experience with employees is the most important; why else do companies send representatives to visit the customer? Airlines at one time felt that e-mail and video conference calls would negatively impact their business; facts proved that wrong. Nothing can replace the impact of people looking directly at, communicating with, and feeling the persona of face-to-face interactions.

Maybe you are still doubtful of this line of thought; well consider the successes of reality TV. Shows like American Pickers and Fixer Uppers are shows about people, experiences and their lives. American Pickers or Dirty Jobs are shows that now spend most of time focused on real people and their stories. A tasting room experience is communicating with people who love wine and want to be sold and want to learn about the brand story. Yes, taste the wine, but tell the visitor the story of the brand.

Branding Your Home Business Online

Branding likewise regulates longevity. A visitor to your web site may buy a single product, only to never come back, but if you’ve formulated a strong brand based around originality, trust and caliber, that buyer is likely to remember you and come back to your site time and time again. In a lot of ways, constructing a net brand is the most control you’ll ever have in respect to your customer base. With a strong brand, you may cover more ground in less time than even the most far-flung marketing campaign. Individuals have to trust you, and in order to set the wheels in motion; you have to develop an unparalleled brand on a firm platform. It’s probable that you already have a product or service in mind, and without doubt, you’re excited about introducing it to the globe.

By producing a brand of your own, you’ll be able to get a greater level of exposure for your line of products, by becoming memorable in the brain of your target buyer base. But it has to go deeper than simply a net personality. You have to combine your net brand with a cohesive business plan that includes prompt buyer support, quality products, a strong sales system and a clear-cut message. You need individuals to associate your brand with favorable influences, and if you do that, your brand will become among your most useful assets. There are a number of ways to begin building your net brand, including:

Your domain name will become your key point headquarters, and you need to pick one that really reflects your overall business focus. By integrating keywords that describe your brand or company, you’ll be able to establish a net presence fast, while protecting your brand in the process. When registering your DNS that will directly tie into your net brand, consider the extended possibilities of other domains that may be perceived as associated to your own, and register those too. If you take a good approach to building your internet brand, you’ll wish to do all that you may to protect it, like registering similar domain names and those with alternate extensions (.org, .net, etc)

A lot of marketers who begin to develop their net brand neglect this believing that as long as they’ve the top-level domain that centers on their brand, they’re protected. This is anything but real. Consider companies like Apple or Amazon. They both began centering on branding as a way of entry to the market. They both had existing rivals and had to wedge themselves into the market by taking another approach. Branding was in all sense, the major focus of their campaigns and the one thing that basically helped them get their foot into the door. You’re aware of cyber squatters, individuals who purposely register domain names that may potentially infringe on somebody’s brand. A lot of times, these cyber squatters are really able to win their day in court, and go on to retain the domain names in spite of that somebody produced a brand around it. You need to do your part to protect a brand that you intend to spend the time and sweat building. It doesn’t cost a lot of cash to register multiple domain names that bear your brand’s keywords and it will provide you far more control over your brand in the time to come.

Naturally, it’s impossible to register all variances of your brand’s association (keywords, etc) but you ought to at the very least consider registering all popular extensions that individuals might assume you control. Depending upon your overall focus, you ought to consider hiring out the production of a unique logo to represent your brand and company. You need to choose one that’s original and includes elements that will be both memorable and professional. Outsource the design to a knowledgeable graphic artist, and be a big part of the development process. Send over your own concepts and thoughts, and work with them to produce an original design that will symbolize your company and brand.

The 4 Pillars of Branding

Although the question of branding has always been essential part of marketing and has been approached with multi-dimension models, sometimes these studies have been made without systematic approach or with full of redundancy or ad-hoc views. Unlike marketing which has the widely-known and usable, practical 7P-model, branding still misses such a sort of basic structure which makes the skeleton of all branding story.

Here I am making an outline of such a simplified model to help people in successfully designing brands and also to better understanding the already existing ones. I collected 7 layers of the branding with 7 different tasks to be completed in everyday actions. I hope this can be useful for the readers, too.

Right before entering this syllabus, we need to define what brand and branding is: in our view brand is a vision that is related to a specific company, product or any specific entity which lives in people and materializes to them. Branding is the art of deliberate control over the whole process.

First pillar: Publicly known

A brand always defines a smaller or bigger group of people who are somehow aware of the product or the service in question. This is the prerequisite or trivial condition of all brands: if you are the only one who knows a specific service or uses a specific product and no information is publicized, the service or product is unable to evolve into a brand. This is the primary task of all marketing efforts, making our specific product or service (along with its whole branding costume) widely known on the addressed market: the majority of the marketing budget is used for this purpose. At this point we normally pay attention to the details of the publicity of all brands: target segment(s), its content, geographic, demography, media, communication methods, timing etc.

Second pillar: Associative and narrative – stories around

The discussions initiated and information shared publicly about a brand (or a branded product or service) would show up the next major characteristic of brands, that is, the power of the coupling or association related to the branded products or services. In other words, branding means that we create stories around a brand. Brand identity or personality, brand vision, brand promise are the official stories reflecting the narrative of a generic brand on different levels. Marketing creative planning is exactly doing the same around a specific product of a brand (e.g. ‘The environment friendly Toyota Prius’ as a story), while general brand stories (I mean the Toyota brand in the example) or associations are on higher level only. We therefore have to consider several layers of brand stories or narratives when examining them. It is very useful when these stories are consistent and formed professionally and are not contradicting to each other.

Third pillar: Concrete and multiplicative form

In real life we always give tangible forms to brands because we want to make profit from our money spent. Brand without concrete product/service to buy (or without a related person when we talk about personal brands) is useless or just a promise (like the newly planned Jolla mobile OS with only a demo video). The embodiment of a Brand is an essential part of its very nature.

Fourth pillar: Unique proposition

The history of branding is stemming from the wish of making a producer’s goods identifiable. This is not just to ensure the identity of goods but also to prevent from copying and forgery. The brands around us are still carrying these old attributes: the logo of the company/brand is expressing the uniqueness of a brand (supported by law as trade marks) and helps us to identify a specific brand in the universe of brands and signs.

Task 4: find and use the means of brand differentiations

The unique proposition of the brands has to be built up and shown for the public: the individual logos of brands on devices for example help the company to make distinction from their competitors and help the customers to identify different market players in order to make a personal choice of preference. Most times companies heavily rely on the unique brand distinguishers, like stories about their unique market segment, tailor-made products, additional services they provide etc. Sometimes, when stories among a group of competitors are very similar or compatible (like the Big Four Auditors) and even their service is similar, a common story may evolve around them focusing on more the similarity and indirectly expressing the exclusivity of the group members.