Consumers need brands, both good and bad, to help them navigate a world in which their choices are almost infinite. Consumers have so many choices today that there is little reason for them to buy anything that does not give them enjoyment and/or provide a rich experience. The experience of buying things is better when it involves a good brand.
Good brands do three things for consumers:
- Save time.
- Project the right message.
- Provide an identity.
Save Time: Good brands save time for the consumer because there is no need to survey an entire product category. Psychologically, the best brand equals the best product. Consumers who know that two products are exactly the same tend to choose the one with the stronger brand name even if it is more expensive.
Project the Right Message: Brands tell others what you think about yourself and them. Brands may bring people together by reinforcing relationship or self-identifying groups of people as a community who share the same values. Strong brands help consumers save face in the event of trouble; even if things don’t work out (like a broken dishwasher or new office computer network) there may be less-fault on a responsible party for choosing the brand with the best reputation.
Provide an Identity: Consumers self-define themselves by education and accomplishment which is often manifested by the products they consume. Good brands give people an identity that makes them feel secure. Advertisers of branded products constantly tell their constituents that by buying their products they can join a special group who are connected by the same values and status.
Tribes are making positive strides to change stereotypes in the minds of consumers by building a strong brand. Take the sector of convenience stores as an example:
Convenience Stores: Beginning in 2009 and formally organized in 2012, the Tribes of Washington and surrounding states formed an association, The Tribal C-Store Summit Group, whose mission is to encourage economic success in Indian Country by uniting tribes involved in the fuel and convenience store industry to share best practices, build effective relationships with vendor partners, and leverage the strength of the membership group. The benefit to tribes is a non-political centralized infrastructure that provides resources to improve operations through education, troubleshoot problems, and leverage the collective size of the group to bring resources to member-tribes. The benefit to customers is friendly service in clean stores that offer good value for the product offered.
Improving a tribe’s brand in the convenience store space is important as it contributes to greater overall positive-brand recognition of a tribe which produces mutual benefit to other tribally owned enterprises like gaming and seafood operations.