Cornerstones of branding strategy

Tampa Bay Business Journal has an interesting article on branding putting up a list of five cornerstones of a brand strategy.

It’s time to get moving, step up to the plate and get your business ready to rock and roll in this new year. Your branding can simply make your business forgettable or unforgettable

Great brands can be worth their weight in gold. Just as ineffective names can make you just another noodle in the bowl of soup.

  • Determine your organization’s Unique Selling Advantages.
  • Research and solidify your customers’ Unique Buying Advantages.
  • Craft your Big Idea to get attention.
  • Hold everyone accountable through Integration.
  • Marketing Integration is essential

Read full Your brand belongs on the asset list article

Branding News Roundup – 01/27/06

Dell – The Accidental Brand
The corporate name was Dell, but the original trade name was PCs Limited. But the company ran into a problem when it began selling in the United Kingdom. It couldn’t call itself PCs Limited Ltd, or, as Michael Dell put it, “really limited Pcs.” The folks in Britain asked headquarters what they should call their operation, but got no reply, so they just decided to use the Dell name. And eventually, that became the trade name for Dell worldwide. Michael Dell’s verdict: “It worked out OK.”

The problem with (famous) brands
These days so-called ‘famous brands’ need to take dramatic measures just to secure their share of the market, never mind grow it. They risk being stuck in the middle of the market with private label products snapping at their heels and the premiumisation trend making them look dowdy.

Viral Marketing Gaining in Popularity
A study out this week by interactive marketing agency Sharpe Partners shows that a strong 89% of adult Internet users in the U.S. share content with others via e-mail. And while jokes and cartoons make up 88% of the forwarded material, a full 24% of business and personal finance information is also shared.

Branding with a Song
We must concede the celebrity endorsements increases brand awareness and ultimately sales. Of course, not all celebrity endorsements are overt advertising. In fact, if you are lucky, a celebrity songster will mention your brand name in the lyrics to a chart topper. Check a Top 10 most mentioned brands in the Billboard Top 20 tunes for 2005.

What’s in a Brand Name?

Naming a new brand without taking enough in consideration the main target market may lead you to unexpected surprises. Here is an interesting NYT article on such a case:

What better way to honor the brash origins of this city, the owners of Houston’s new professional soccer franchise reasoned, than to name their team “Houston 1836,” a nod to the year when two entrepreneurial brothers from New York arrived here to build a city atop the swampy bayous of southeast Texas.

Many Latinos in Houston, though, greeted the unveiling of the team’s name this week with a shudder. Eighteen thirty-six also happens to be the year that a group of English-speaking interlopers waged a war of secession that resulted in Mexico’s loss of Texas, ushering in more than a century of violence and discrimination against Mexicans in the state.

Read full article here. (via)

9 Components of Corporate Identity

Marcia Yudkin author of Internet Marketing for Less Than $500 Year and 6 Steps to Free Publicity has an interesting list of 9 components of small business identity:

1. Values.
Do you stand for stability, like Prudential insurance? Innovation, like 3M? Educational curiosity, like the Discovery Channel? Social consciousness, like Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream?

2. Personality.
From the company’s personality can flow ad campaigns, kinds of special events to sponsor, company colors and typefaces, corporate gift selection, even the talent chosen to record company voice mail messages.

3. Behavior.
Your company’s image includes not only how you promote yourselves but also how you act toward customers and the public. Things like how you answer the phone, how you greet shoppers, how cheerfully you correct mistakes or accept returns, how aggressively you negotiate contracts all become bound up in one composite image.

4. Price.
How much you cost in comparison to competitors often becomes part of your image. If you’re tempted to keep price out of the equation until someone expresses a desire to buy, think twice.

5. Range.
Customers should understand the spectrum of products and services that you sell.

6. Geographical roots.
Where did your company come from? If you’re a locally owned family business competing with multinational giants, make sure people know that. If you’re selling nationally but rooted in a picturesque corner of the country, make hay out of that.

7. Longevity.
Moody and Regan, a printing company in Waltham, Massachusetts, wisely and impressively uses as its tag line, “Established 1898.” Whenever you’ve been around much longer than competitors, you can profitably incorporate that into your image.

8. Slogan.
Which brand “tastes good like a cigarette should”? Which car is “the ultimate driving machine”? Even local or specialized companies can achieve this kind of awareness with their clientele.

9. Benefits.
What do buyers get when they purchase from you? Most companies provide intangible, emotional benefits as well as tangible, practical ones (Burger King: inexpensive, satisfying meal; Boston Pops: a fun night out; Kodak: photos with true-to-life colors).

Marcia Yudkin is the author of 6 Steps to Free Publicity and ten other books hailed for outstanding creativity. Find out more about her new discount naming company, Named At Last, which brainstorms new company names, new product names, tag lines and more for cost-conscious organizations, at

Managing a Brand Under Fire

Even though is dealing with pharmaceutical industry branding, I spotted a very intersting article, over BrandWeek, that deals with how to manage your branding when your company, or even your whole industry is under fire, and has to face negative reactions to some aspects, whether from the public or the media.

Strategically, a shift is needed throughout the industry—from corporate brands to their agency partners—toward a better understanding of consumers. The industry must know how consumers truly feel (as patients, as caregivers and as family members), what they want, how they react and what drives them to action.

Well so far, is a little general, but here is a list with some practical strategies ideas that help: Continue reading

Key Branding Trends in 2006

Robert Passikoff is president/founder of Brand Keys, which has published the Customer Loyalty Index of leading companies in 26 product and service categories since 1996., has an interesting article over at Chief Marketer about what he calls the five key trends that will determine the difference between success and failure for brands and marketers for 2006:

1. An emphasis on “engagement.”
Inserting itself between traditional marketing activities and an increasing demand for return on investment assessments, engagement will become the Holy Grail for marketers and advertisers. Defined as the outcome of ad and marketing activities that substantively increases a brand’s strength in the eyes of the consumers, engagement will be used more and more to allocate marketing budgets. Continue reading

Instant Branding Through Viral Email

Martin Lindstrom, author of several best-selling branding books including his latest, including Brand Sense : Build Powerful Brands through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight, and Sound provides some information on what he calls instant branding key ingredients, here are some of them:

  • Values. Define the values your brand’s communication is based on, if you didn’t when you designed the brand. Your brand’s values are what define your brand’s identity. These values will lead you to discover interesting instant branding opportunities and enable you to make the most of them when the opportunity arises.
  • Insight. Dedicate someone in your organization or agency to identify breaking news stories or news-driven trends. Be prepared to grasp opportunities as they appear. The faster you react, the better the distribution you secure. So, select people to keep an eye and ear on popular culture, current affairs, and personalities.
  • Courage. Create an instant branding team of two or three creative people. The team should meet, brainstorm, and generate five or six ideas to propel news-driven instant branding campaigns. Then, be prepared to accept the consequences of whatever they come up with.
  • Judgment. Be extremely critical. Can the idea create the right momentum and generate the right distribution for your brand? Always ask yourself: would your competitor send the e-mail on because of its irresistibility? Be critical about the message. Test the idea among a range of friends who represent a spectrum of personalities, religious persuasions, nationalities, and backgrounds.
  • Prudence. Don’t be overtly promotional. If your message is tainted by even a fraction of self-promotion, no one will forward it. The message must feel authentic.

Read more here

2005 Top Brands – Brandchannel Readers’ Choice Awards

Brandchannel published its fifth Annual Reader’s Choice Award, a top of the brands that had the most impact in the passed year.

Over 2500 people from 99 countries voted in the 2005 poll. The greatest number of voters fell in the age range of 26 to 35 year olds, with about a third more men voting as women.

Brandchannel conducts the study each year under the following conditions:

  • Readers are instructed to vote for the brands that had the most impact on them that year.
  • Impact is defined as good or bad. (Bad impact might be a brand like Enron.)
  • The study runs online and is open to the public during November and December.
  • Votes can be cast for up to five brands per region; respondents can only vote once per region but no section is mandatory.

Here is the Global top 10 brands that have the most impact on us in 2005 (in brackets are the previous year positions):

  1. Google (2)
  2. Apple (1)
  3. Skype (new)
  4. Starbucks (4)
  5. Ikea (3)
  6. Nokia (10)
  7. Yahoo! (new)
  8. Firefox (new)
  9. ebay (9)
  10. Sony (new)

Read full article in Brandchannel

Interactive Brands

The brand – the collection of sentiments, concepts, ideas, myths, whatever, surrounding your product or commercial offering – is beholden to the needs, desires and tastes of consumers. Your brand had better be able to adjust or it becomes irrelevant. What your target consumers consider a relevant message is even more shifty and unstable than what they consider a relevant product.

The brands are interactive in the sense that the web in general, and blogs in particular, are making the feedback loop between consumers and marketers incredibly tight. But the only thing new about the situation is its immediacy; the loop has shrunk from a traffic circle to a wedding ring. The “brand stewardship” model of marketing, in which the brand is dictated to the consumer and only grudgingly changes course under threat of absolute ruin, has always been wrong-headed. You can’t completely and totally manage, control and broadcast your brand or its perception. Immediate feedback and reactionary blogging have only amplified what has always been the case. Brands are creatures of relevance and relevance is incredibly unstable. If a brand can’t intelligently react to maintain relevance (in a way consistent with its history) then it will fail.

It’s our job to look ahead, determining relevance and the appropriate means of communication for our clients. But first we must understand that it’s interaction, not broadcast.

Well said.

Five-level Brand Leadership Model

The BBDO’s five-level brand leadership model provides a systematic approach to developing brands. This model comprises five development stages that function as building blocks for brands to reach or be elevated to.

Level 1 – Proprietary goods

At this level, the functional aspects of a product are in the foreground. Typical of a proprietary good is the fact that, though it literally has been “branded” with a label (in the physical sense), no advertising efforts is expended for it. In this context, the product is branded to indicate its provenance and affix a “seal of quality” that comes from its manufacturer. This quality pledge allows consumers to clearly associate any deviation from the expected quality with a specific manufacturer. The supplier commits itself to a pledge on which consumers can call the company at any time and which they expect – if not demand – that company to deliver.

Level 2 – Branded products

In addition to the characteristics of a proprietary good as outlined above, this level also includes success factors as yardsticks of “major brands.” Besides bearing the basic manufacturer’s mark, a branded item fulfills certain criteria such as constant, above-average quality, above-average price level and a high level of awareness created by way of advertising pressure. A branded item is characterized by the fact that it is widely distributed and enjoys major recognition on the market. One characteristic of brands at this level is the fact that, while their consumers have access to additional information, the quality of this information has achieved neither mind share nor heart share. In other words, these brands have not yet succeeded in forging emotional bonds with consumers.

Level 3 – Positioned brands

The brands clustered here are set apart by their emotional and cognitive impact on consumers in addition to their functional utility.

At this level of development, consumer attitudes and associations are extremely important. Expertise about preferences and purchase patterns, coupled with cognitive and emotive positioning efforts, is used to evoke certain associations among consumers. To this end, the consumer must, however, also interpret the message conveyed by the brand. To elevate a brand to this level and keep it there – to actively involve consumers – brand management must position the brand cognitively and emotionally by way of a brand-building program. Positioning efforts on the part of brand management, plus integrated communication measures, make it possible to create brand strength and cultivate brand personality.

To elevate a brand to this level and keep it there – to actively involve consumers – brand management must position the brand cognitively and emotionally by way of a brand-building program. Positioning efforts on the part of brand management, plus integrated communication measures, make it possible to create brand strength and cultivate brand personality. The result of these measures can then be seen in a product’s ability to capture a certain position on the market and hold its own against the competition.

Level 4 – Identity-building brands

This identity is the product of interplay between producer and consumer to create a suitable brand environment. The brand is integrated into the consumer’s personality.At this level of brand leadership, consumers define themselves via the brand (and the brand via its loyal customers), relying on it for self-expression and identity formation.

The suitable drivers at this level are communication tools with specific attributes – for instance, emotionality, interactivity or virtuality – that support the process of building brand identity particularly well.

Level 5 – Mythological brand

As with the level of identity-building, a “mystique brand” helps provide customers with a social orientation, and most of all with a metaphysical orientation. Increasingly, such a brand assumes the function of a guide or mentor offering insight into the meaning of life, helping consumers better process the social and the existential, and offering them support when it comes to finding their place within the “collective self.”

No drivers can be identified for this level because the timeframe for brand development is extremely long and special societal factors are indispensable. This brand status is not desirable for all brands and can only be achieved in isolated cases. A brand at this level, virtually having attained a cult or “religious” status, is difficult to manage; the danger of falling down to earth is extremely high due to the risk of disappointing followers or alienating a portion of them. In addition, such a brand is vulnerable to potential value shifts within a society that are completely beyond a company’s control.