The Blake Project

Why a Branding Strategy Blog?

At The Blake Project our sole focus is helping organizations create brands that build and sustain trust. Branding Strategy Insider is an extension of our efforts as brand consultants to help marketing oriented leaders and professionals build strong brands.

Contact BSI
Derrick Daye
888.706.5489 Email us
Brand Definitions

18 Different Types Of Brand


WWF Brand

We often talk about “brand” as if it is one thing. It’s not of course -  in fact, the meaning and the use of the term differs, quite markedly, depending on the context. By my reckoning, brand is categorized in at least 18 different ways. (So much for the single minded proposition!). In no particular order:

1. Personal brand – Otherwise known as individual brand. The brand a person builds around themselves, normally to enhance their career opportunities. Often associated with how people portray and market themselves via media. The jury’s out on whether this should be called a form of brand because whilst it may be a way to add value, it often lacks a business model to commercialize the strategy.

2. Product brand – Elevating the perceptions of commodities/goods so that they are associated with ideas and emotions that exceed functional capability. Consumer packaged goods brands (CPG), otherwise known as fast moving consumer goods brands (FMCG), are a specific application.

3. Service brand – Similar to product brands, but involves adding perceived value to services. More difficult in some ways than developing a product brand, because the offering itself is less tangible. Useful in areas like professional services. Enables marketers to avoid competing skill vs skill (which is hard to prove and often devolves to a price argument) by associating their brand with emotions. New online models, such as subscription brands, where people pay small amounts for ongoing access to products/services, are rapidly changing the loyalty and technology expectations for both product and service brands – for example, increasingly products come with apps that are integral to the experience and the perceived value.

4. Corporate brand – Otherwise known as the organizational brand. David Aaker puts it very well: “The corporate brand defines the firm that will deliver and stand behind the offering that the customer will buy and use.” The reassurance that provides for customers comes from the fact that “a corporate brand will potentially have a rich heritage, assets and capabilities, people, values and priorities, a local or global frame of reference, citizenship programs, and a performance record”.

5. Investor brand – Normally applied to publicly listed brands and to the investor relations function. Positions the listed entity as an investment and as a performance stock, blending financials and strategy with aspects such as value proposition, purpose and,  increasingly, wider reputation via CSR. As Mike Tisdall will tell you, done well, a strong investor brand delivers share price resilience and an informed understanding of value.

Read More
Customer Experience

Why Price Establishes The Brand Experience


Brand Pricing Strategy

What’s the difference between a budget airline and a pig? Pigs fly more often – and on time. Harsh perhaps, but it’s a reminder that in a market, there is always a price to pay, and the price is not just about money down.

Some people will be happy with budget. It’s worth a cancelled flight or two for the savings they make. For others, that’s far too high a price to pay for a few dollars saved.

Years ago, I was in a workshop where three people in the group were asked to make the business case for luxury over economy. The team made their case in a pointed and dramatic way.

First, they invited the wider group into a huge open sunny space, where sofas were laid out. Each person was escorted to a sofa and provided with bubbles and hors d’euvres. There was a sign on the wall that read $3000. Then, we were invited into a second room. This room was smaller, and instead of couches there were seats. Each person was asked to sit where they wanted and they were provided with a cup of coffee and a magazine. The sign on the wall read $1000. Then we were pushed and hustled into a third room. It was dark and small, with no outside windows, and instead of chairs we sat at school desks all bunched together in one corner of the space. Each person was told where to sit and all they were given was a glass of water. The sign on the wall read $500.

When we returned to the workshop meeting room, there was a simple question waiting for us. It read: Which room would you rather pay to spend 12 hours in – and why? Then we were asked: Which room would you rather pay to spend 2 hours in – and why?

You can imagine the discussion.

Each person will trade off what they get vs. what they pay as they see fit. Some would rather fly on the plane and stay in an economy hotel no matter what the length of the journey. Others will want the reverse. And that model transposes almost everywhere you look. The main cinema vs. the gold lounge. The budget burger vs. the gourmet burger. Supermarket vs. deli. The cheap perfume vs. the eau de Cologne. Environmental vs. irresponsible.

Read More
Brand Storytelling

Every Brand Price Point Needs A Story


Brand Storytelling Strategy

The temptation is to see story as a luxury item: something that brands implement to lift their margin. There’s nothing wrong with that of course – it’s powerful and it works. At The Blake Project we don’t think that story is just a top-end nice-to-have. Our view is that most brands, no matter where they are priced in the marketplace, need a storyline.

To understand why, first let’s think about the alternative. Without a storyline, a product is just that. It has everything it needs (hopefully) to do what it’s being bought for but that also means it’s just another detergent, car oil, computer, whatever …That makes it highly vulnerable to house brands and to cheaper versions of what amounts to ‘the same thing’. It also means markets get packed very quickly with variants of the same idea that rapidly diminish the value equation –  think of Groupon and its 425 competitors.

This problem of course only becomes more acute as you move down the value chain – meaning that at the very points in the market that are most crowded and where competition is highest, the chances of finding differentiation are diminished, and much of the marketing amounts to little more than a rowdy discounting squabble based on ‘unbeatable pricing’. Case in point, of course, those positioned in middle and lower markets should be upping their back story to compensate for this lack of differentiation.

The real power of story is that it provides context, in two senses. First of all, it helps consumers differentiate an offering by attaching more than just functionality to a product. It can also help them understand why a product is priced the way it is – up or down. The discount airline Ryanair are masters of this. Their price is a clear call to the market – don’t expect much, because you’re not paying much. And everything they do revolves on that premise. They do have a storyline, albeit an unusual one, based it seems on minimalism.

Read More
Brand Value & Pricing

9 Characteristics Of Brands That Work As Assets


Building Brands As Assets

A lot of people talk a lot about brands as impressions: brands are how you are talked about when you are not in the room; your brand is the sum of the prompted and unprompted associations that people have of you; your brand is expressed in the ways that you are remembered. All of these definitions accurately describe the associative advantages of a powerful brand. But the critical aspect for me is that a brand today must not only look the part, it must also function as an asset – by definition that means it must be “Something valuable that an entity owns, benefits from, or has use of, in generating income.”

In order to do that:

  1. A brand must be tangible – there must be something identifiable to offer, and that something, whether it is a product or a service, must have value.
  2. There must be a distinctive and viable business model – a brand requires an efficient and competitive commercial delivery model in order to get into market and to meet demand.
  3. A brand must differentiate itself from other offerings like it in order to prosper – brands require a competitive environment in which to thrive because without such an environment the concept of a value equation means nothing.
  4. A brand must be visible to the people that matter to it – a brand must take conscious and measured steps to gain and retain their attention.
  5. A brand must engage with the people it seeks to work with – so it must have a personality that people are attracted to and it must tell a story that people want to hear more of.
  6. A brand exists to earn margin beyond the going market rate – and a brand that fails to do so joins the ranks of the commodities.
  7. It must create expectations – and those expectations must underpin the promises the brand makes in market and the values that it works by.
  8. Brands must capture who they are through a distinctive identity across a full range of touch-points – great brands are symbolized in ways that people know and that graphically capture their character.
  9. A brand must offer experiences around the goods or service it offers expressly to generate trust, connection and distinction with its audiences.

While these characteristics will be familiar to many, the implications are wide-ranging:

Read More
Brand Language

When Branding Projects Require Rebranding


Brand Purpose

Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you build strong brands. BSI readers know, we regularly answer questions from marketers everywhere. Today we hear from Ken, a VP of Marketing in Boston, Massachusetts who writes…

“I’m trying to get internal buy-in for an extensive re-brand. The terms brand or branding are not well received here. How else can I talk about this project?”

Thanks for your question Ken. As brand consultants we have seen this situation before and the reasons vary. Those less marketing oriented or less appreciative of marketing as a revenue generator might see terms like brand or branding negatively while others simply want projects like this to be communicated as more than a marketing project. Whatever the case replacing the word ‘brand’ with promise or purpose works well.

At its core branding projects are about discovery and can be effectively communicated as such without marketing jargon. Consider presenting the initiative in the context of what will be discovered and the outcomes that will lead to…

  • What unique value can we own in the minds of our prospective and existing customers?
  • What is our purpose? It’s not what we sell; it’s what we stand for.
  • What is our organization’s raison d’être, or its reason for being?
  • What promise is our organization making to our customers? Employees? The world?

Ken, I hope you find these thoughts helpful. As you continue down the path of trying to gain buy-in (seemingly a part-time job for marketers) I think you will find these additional thoughts meaningful. While brand cultures are built on language, it’s fitting I share this as well.

Do you have a question related to branding? Just Ask The Blake Project

Sponsored By: Resonate. Reach audiences based on why they choose brands.

Sponsored ByThe Brand Positioning Workshop, the Brand Storytelling Workshop Series and Brand Strategy and Customer Co-Creation Workshops

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

FREE Publications And Resources For Marketers

Read More