We’ve heard it too many times: All the top professionals prefer this particular brand (and therefore it’s the best).
It’s a unique position in the brand ranking hierarchy to be the brand preferred by the best. Then you don’t have to remind your customers that you have something to offer. Others take care of that.
For example, Canon and Nikon are two elite brands that professional photographers usually select when purchasing cameras and lenses. Sony is trying to get into their league. While it is making some progress, Sony is still far away when it comes to conquering consumers’ perceptions of who the leaders are in the universe of photographic equipment manufacturers. Therefore, Sony must strive to conjure more associations in the minds of consumers between its brand and professional photography in all kinds of conditions.
The urgent question is: How can Sony get people to think that professionals prefer their brand? Of course, the long term answer is by making the world’s best camera gear, but that’s only half of what Sony needs to focus on. They also need to convince people that photographers choose Sony over Canon and Nikon. There is an effective way to achieve this without many additional costs: Show customers all kinds of pro paraphernalia that looks as if it’s used by top photographers in the most difficult conditions. An impression is created: if complex accessories are on display, there must be professionals who buy them. Therefore, that particular brand must be admired by connoisseurs.
An example of this can be seen in a Sony store in Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz: On display is some Sony elaborate gear that one assumes is used strictly by experts. As customers see such fancy kit in the store, they develop the idea that photographers must use Sony cameras because otherwise Sony wouldn’t design, produce and sell such equipment. The goal here is to generate a connection between the concepts of ‘Sony’ and ‘professional photographers.’
Above is a picture from that particular store in Berlin. You see many Sony cameras and lenses that don’t necessarily evoke any more associations with professionals than other camera makers do on average. But the neat little trick is included in the picture: You see complicated photographic paraphernalia that you can’t even name, but you think it might be used for recording professional videos, or it could be some kind of stabilizer, or perhaps an aluminium frame for other accessories, or for use in extreme conditions. You don’t know, really, and that’s a plus for Sony. It’s used by experts and therefore, at least some experts must favor Sony over Canon or Nikon. So you end by thinking: OK, Sony is really on the move with its cameras, they might be stealing the no. 2 spot from Nikon soon. After all, they have had great success with TVs and other electronics, so it’s logical that they should be equally adept in the world of photography. Sony can evoke many such supportive brand associations.
Sony: Do more of this. Don’t limit it to your largest store in Germany. Do it everywhere to convince people worldwide of Sony’s superiority. Generate unified thinking. Put complex camera gear on every other shelf in every store you can. Otherwise it’s a wasted opportunity to develop the idea of Sony as a leader in the minds of your customers. Now it’s your chance to increase your ranking. Don’t miss it.
To all other brands: Don’t keep your fancy equipment – your most sophisticated, high-tech gear – at the bottom of your deepest locker. Let everyone see it, handle it, try it and perceive the fact that professionals use and love your products.