The world has been watching in anticipation as the newest installment of the Star Wars franchise has hit cinemas around the world. The power of the Star Wars brand has exploded in recent years to the point where the movies themselves have somehow become secondary to the growing maturity of the brand. Modern branding has become perhaps the most powerful force in retailing, no pun intended.
Much has been made in recent years in the diamond media of the need for branding. It seems like everyone is extolling the virtues of branding for diamonds, but only a select few have been able to achieve notable success and brand awareness at the consumer level. Over the years, there have been many branding initiatives, several of which have been hugely successful.
So far in my survey of diamond retail, we have looked at the demographics of the industry and the variables that influence profit margins for retailers. We have seen how both marketing and modern technology are changing how retailers sell diamond jewelry and how all of this has affected the consumer shopping experience. In this final installment of my series exploring diamond retailing, I want to take a closer look at the approach to branding in our industry.
What is a brand?
This seems like a simple question but in truth, the answer is anything but. One of the better known definitions of a brand comes from David Ogilvy, often dubbed “The Father of Advertising”: A brand is “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.”
Branding is a confusing subject, and even experienced marketers don’t always clearly understand it. But with diamonds, as with almost all consumer products or services, branding is critically important. It can mean the difference between a thriving business or a mediocre one…or worse.
At its core, a brand is a commitment to consumers. It tells a consumer what they are getting, or what they should expect to get, when they purchase and use a product. However, consumers, not companies, build brands. It doesn’t matter what you think your brand promises to your customers, it only matters how they perceive it.
I like to think of a brand as what is left after a particular marketing initiative is over. Marketing can help steer customers to buy a product, but they will only become repeat buyers if the product lives up to the promises of that specific marketing campaign, whether with regard to quality, durability or any other product characteristic.
As if the concept of branding was not complex enough, diamonds involve additional nuances for retailers and consumers to consider. This means that branding in our industry can take many forms. There are three key elements of branding that are crucial to specialty jewelry retailers:
1. The branding of the diamonds
2. The branding of the jewelry
3. The branding of the retailer.
Each of these can be a strategy employed in isolation, or in some cases, they can be combined to achieve additional leverage. Let’s take a closer look at each.