-Kunle Dixon Odukoya
Unlike product brands, service brands are identifiable activities or benefits that one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and doesn’t result in a change in ownership.
Thus service brands are those utilities that have as their core, the five attribute of services vis •Intangibility: not existing in physical form
•Invisibility:cannot be seen
•Inseparability:cannot be separated from the provider
•Perishability:transitory, i.e. not likely to last
•Heterogeneity:consisting of many different things
These attributes that form the nature of services are the foundation around which certain essential offerings are built to deliver relevant values that become the intangible benefits taken to the market place.
Examples of service industry categories include Transportation, Government and Public utilities, Financial services, Professional services, Telecommunications, Consultancy services, Recreation and Hospitality services, Education, among others.
In these industries and their likes, services are rendered without it necessarily resulting in a change of ownership, largely because the utilities delivered are intangible, invisible and inseparable from the providers. And this makes it a little more difficult to differentiate among service offerings. Then, the question is ‘how do you successfully brand a service offering?’
Standing out as a service brand
To stand out as a service brand, given the intangibility and other peculiar status of service offerings, the benefits must be augmented and offered in a way that the beneficiaries or target market can perceive relevant unique added values which match their needs most closely and differentiate one service brand from another. To achieve this is to effectively position your services; and to be candid, this is no mean feat.
Positioning a service brand is doubly challenging as it has to do with the identification, development and communication of the differentiated advantage(s) which gives the services rendered, the perception of being superior and distinct from others. This is heavily dependent on the capability of a firm to effectively differentiate itself from competition.
This can be achieved simply by providing superior delivered value to the market and successfully communicating such. Thus successful positioning must be believable, meaningful and unique.
This takes us to the seven Ps of service marketing or the service-mix. This is an amalgam of the 4 traditional Ps of marketing: •Product (in this case, Service)
Plus an additional 3 Ps of Service Marketing, namely:
•Physical evidence i.e. packaging i.e.
Succeeding with a service brand in any industry is to get it right with the service-mix; and since the focus of this article is on positioning a service brand, we shall only examine the 3 additional Ps of the Service mix
At the heart of all service offerings is customer service; and at the heart of this is the human element, people. This most important element must be critically seen to, as it is people that form the interfacing personnel between the services on offer and the recipients of these benefits.
Therefore, there is need to engage the right staff and ensure appropriate training commensurate with the delivery of their services if a firm must obtain a form of competitive advantage. To this end, staff with the appropriate interpersonal skills, aptitude, and service and industry knowledge must be deployed, because customers surely stay loyal to organizations and brands that serve them well.
Judgments regarding service delivery and perceptions of the service are usually based on the employees that the market interacts with. And this explains why in our service industries, a very high premium is attached to the recruitment,...