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When Stuart Itkin became the CMO of Kronos, the company had an identity problem. "People in the market knew the company for what we had been, not what we were," he says.

To gauge the branding situation, he started asking the general public, "What is Kronos?" The answers he received were wide-ranging–and often woefully inaccurate. Some examples:
* It's a clock company
* I don't know–I never heard of them
* It's a Greek bakery in the Bronx with the best baklava
Things weren't much better with long-established customers, who often didn't know the breadth of services Kronos offered. In short, concluded Itkin, the lack of identity was having a direct bearing on the company's bottom line.
To support the funding request for a branding program, he did a little research that went a little like this:
1) What's the first name that comes to mind when you want an inkjet printer?
2) What about a network router?
3) Or a laptop computer?
The nearly universal response:
1) Hewlett-Packard
2) Cisco
3) Dell
And guess what? For inkjet printers, HP was number one in revenue, sales productivity and margin. Ditto for Cisco and Dell in their respective categories.
"Brand matters," said Itkin. "It has an impact on how much you sell, and how much you spend to make each dollar."
And when he made a presentation demonstrating that a branding initiative would cost only 10 percent of the net sales gain, Kronos' CFO helped Itkin sell the initiative.

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Christian Gulliksen is a writer who has authored several of the Get to the Po!nt newsletters for MarketingProfs. A former editor at Robb Report, he has also contributed to Worth, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter.