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Branding in the Firearms Industry

By July 26, 2010No Comments

For anyone in marketing, we’ve all heard the call-to-arms from upper management – “We need to create a new brand” or “We have to re-brand this product.” Perhaps the looming deadline of an industry trade show creates this impetus, or sales have dipped into the summer doldrums, but nonetheless, the idea of “creating a brand,” although heroic, is often no more than a marketers dream. In our industry, as in any other, we create products. Hopefully, these products are developed to fulfill a need in our marketplace. Perhaps the need is a smaller, more concealable handgun, or a pack that can be overstuffed and thrown in the back of a pick-up truck, or a rifle that can take the hot and sandy conditions of our current battle scenes, but whatever product is developed the seed of a brand has been born.

Ok, so what the heck is a “brand?”Product Branding 

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”

So, the first element in brand development is a product, and not a product just for product sake, but to provide a solution to a markets problem. Now, here’s where the marketing team often makes a mess of it. The messaging you as a marketer provide the public must be clear and implicit – cutesy tag lines or a laundry list of features don’t necessarily get the warm and fuzzy going in customers. Tell me why I want to buy this. Tell me why I can’t live without it. Fine, you have a 4 lb. trigger pull, ergonomic grip, out of the box accuracy – but doesn’t every other handgun lately?

Step two in brand development – make sure your message is clear, accurate and truly supports the product.

Ok, now we’ve got that, so let’s now make the purchasing action happen. It’s so easy to just list the old and think the world will come in droves. If we acted on every website we saw on a daily basis, we wouldn’t get anything done! So, we discriminate, often to the tune of overlooking 99% of website addresses thrown at us. So what, why do I want to go there? Make me. And that is step three, make your customers want to go to your site, especially if you sell on your site or make it easy ( by a couple clicks) to make that purchase. How? Think promotion. And promotion doesn’t have to mean giving stuff away. Don’t we all have enough pens with company logos on them? Offer specific information only available on your site, email newsletters, future coupons or event subscriptions, donations to good causes, or membership to elite company clubs. Think creatively; think of what YOU would want.

And now, the final, and most important step in brand development; keep that customer coming back. Developing loyalty is sometimes the hardest part of branding, but without it, a brand becomes a whisper of a dead dream somewhere in the past. Keep information flowing outwards, listen to customers and respond. When there is a problem (and we all know they happen more often than not!) get proactive and solve it. A satisfied customer is your best salesman!

So, branding isn’t something created in a board room. It’s seeded at the start, from market research, to careful product development, to wise and effective marketing and serious customer service. Put together, your products will take on a life of their own. Your loyal customers will create new customers for you and on and on. A brand is not born in any one department within a company. It gets its start there and your it’s your customers that will creat your brand’s place in the market.


Building Loyalty