Gord Hotchkiss in MediaPost in an article on Brand Promises Vs. Brand Religions:
One thing that both these natures of brand have in common: ultimately they depend on the values, integrity and effectiveness of the organization that creates the brand. If the brand is a promise of a level of quality, you can’t break the promise with immunity, especially in a digitally amplified world of blogs, forums and buzz. Each of the “promise” brands I used as examples, GM, United and Microsoft, stand in danger of their promises losing all meaning with customers. A promise is only as good as the level of trust you’ve built with the recipient.
But if the brand is a religion, the culture of the organization becomes even more important. Irrational decision factors run amok: the perceived culture of the organization, how the brand label connects with who we are, the social circles it places us it, or the circles we wish it would place us in, the values the company stands for, the exclusivity of the brand. The brand relationship becomes a complex stew of beliefs and emotions. We only make this investment for brands that hold a unique position in our mindscape. We feel we have to get as much from the brand as we’re willing to give it in terms of our emotional loyalty. And if a brand doesn’t reciprocate, it is quickly downscaled from a religion to a passing fancy.
Every business can increase the value they offer their customers by promoting one of the above. Before choosing which one you’ll offer customer, it is important to understand what drives the consumers to buy. Many ecommerce businesses think the secret to success is ‘low price.’
- Trust – can you deliver ‘on time?’
- Security – Does your program focus on client’s privacy and security?
- Relationship – Can clients IM you, ask questions, follow the project step-by-step?
- Increase Customer’s Potential – Can you offer something no one else can offer?
- Social Standing – Can you make them look wealthier, sexier, more influential?
- Power – Do you have what it takes to increase your client’s power?
- Free – Consumers who are motivated by price can feel they are being ‘treated right’ if they give their clients something real. Not an ebook – but a membership or passing on an association newsletter.
The new symbol is derived from the famous shield that decorated the front of Fiat cars from 1931 to 1968, with the vertically elongated letters of the word ‘FIAT’ standing out against a ruby red background, encased in a chromed round frame. The two main elements of the new logo (the shield shape and the colour red) immediately bring to mind the Fiat 524 of 1931, which was the first to use a rectangular logo that blended into the new grille, designed with stylistic but also aerodynamic pretensions, in the shape of a shield with vertical elements.
Karen Post‘s excellent book Brain Tattoos: Creating Unique Brands That Stick in Your Customers’ Minds is presenting eleven tatoo tactics that speak loudly even when you whisper.
The strategy is set. You clearly know who you are, you’ve decided on your brand difference, you’ve found folks who want what you have, and you’ve mapped out the great experience you will deliver. Now you must employ the big brand bang and let your message resonate through every point of market contact.
The next step in building your brand is tactical. What specific weapons are you going to launch, at whom, and with what frequency? How will you be heard, noticed, and remembered in a crowded, chaotic playing field, possibly working with less money than your competitors? I refer to this engine as ‘‘speaking loudly even when you whisper,’’ by which I mean making sure that even your smallest effort is on target, relevant, and working to build the brand.
Tactic 1: Visual Identity
The footprint of a brand—your corporate identity, graphic system, or visual voice—can take your brand many good places. It can also head you straight into a wall if it does not accurately project what the brand is and consistently stick to the story.
BusinessWeek is running an interesting article, presenting three checkpoints in creating a slogan:
Try to create complementary relationships between your business [tag]name[/tag], its [tag]slogan[/tag], and other communications devices, such as the Web address. Avoid redundant messages. In other words, don’t pick a slogan that simply reiterates your company name. It should enhance and complement that primary statement about your company and provide would-be customers with new, positive information about you.
Brand loyalty will diminish as the defining metric of success. Marketing strategies will become more varied.
Brand loyalty reduces customer loss, which improves business growth. You are not replacing lost customers to stay at the same sales volume. Customers must have a favorable attitude toward the product to develop loyalty.
Looking at the future of [tag]loyalty[/tag]-[tag]marketing[/tag] [tag]innovation[/tag], three major trends will emerge.
There are two trends in product branding, which may at first seem disconnected: the focus on product experiences, and the growth of corporate branding.
People increasingly see the product experience as a key driver of the brand relationship. The quality of the product experience is growing in importance after a couple of decades when some companies perhaps lost focus on product performance, particularly in developed markets. If true innovation is defined as product change that provides real solutions to real consumer issues, then itâ€™s not unfair to suggest that some brands ignored this in favour of quick-fix brand extensions which lacked any longer-term impact
Surface innovation that fails to truly innovate or differentiate can have a short-term positive impact on profits. This may be enough for a new product manager under pressure to deliver, but it can turn off consumers in the medium term, as marketing becomes a surrogate for product innovation and stops being truly effective.
Consumers buy products, and for many the product experience is by far their most important touchpoint. It should be stressed that, although it has been over-emphasized on occasion, the so-called softer side of the brand remains an important component of the brand alchemy. Through a brandâ€™s emotional story, the product experience is amplified and linked to the consumerâ€™s imaginative life â€“ it is all a matter of balance.
The second trend is the development of corporate brands, which have traditionally stayed â€˜behind the scenesâ€™. Procter & Gambleâ€™s name is increasingly visible on many of its brands. Its main competitor Unilever also announced early last year that they would use their corporate name in customer-facing marketing activities. We could also mention NestlÃ©, Danone and many others, which have been historically keen to hide their wide range of branded products from consumers. Many reasons drive the decision to appear as one company under an â€˜umbrella brandâ€™. In part it is a response to a global marketplace, but the main factor is the need to rationalise marketing spend.
Many companies have developed multi-layered and extremely complex brand architectures over the years – some for historical reasons (like brand acquisitions), some possibly due to a lack of internal cohesion or communication. The trends toward corporate branding and an emphasis on the product allow us a different perspective on what brand architecture could and should look like. They imply a simplified brand structure in which the corporate brand would directly endorse a range of product brands, with all intermediate brand levels progressively disappearing. This would clarify the offers, put the product back at centre stage for consumers, and force companies to really define their corporate brand and related values.
strategy+business, published by the leading global management and technology firm Booz Allen Hamilton, has selected ProfitBrand: How to Increase the Profitability, Accountability and Sustainability of Brands by Nick Wreden as the best marketing book of 2005.
Mr. Wreden takes ambitious steps in explaining the significance of “sustainability” in customer relationships and the value of measuring marketing spending to establish accountability and profitability. Sustainability is critical, since by some estimates 80-95 per cent of products fail to become brands, he writes. Sustainability is also important because more than two-thirds of purchases are one-off buys. Only a brand focused on sustainability will take the steps that lead to second, third or even a lifetime of purchases.
ProfitBrand amplifies this concept, known in direct-marketing circles as the true value of a brand: “A brand is not built by acquiring customers; it is built by keeping them,” he writes. “Most competitive product advantages can be duplicated. The one advantage that cannot be duplicated is customer relationships.” Branding strategies that aim to make a company No. 1 in the market, for example, are doomed to failure, Mr. Wreden argues. That’s because brand sustainability can be achieved only on the basis of relationships formed on customer terms, not company terms.
Read the full review of the book here. (free registration required).
Other leading business books selected by the editors at Strategy + Business in marketing categories include:
A brand is a consistent, holistic pledge made by a company, the face a company presents to the world. A brand serves as an unmistakable and recongnizable symbol for products and services. It functions as the “business card” a company proffers on the competitive scene to set itself apart from the rest. In addition to differentiating in this way, a brand conveys to consumers, shareholders, stakeholders, society and the world at large all the values and attitudes embodied in a product or company. A brand fulfills key functions for consumers and companies alike.