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Archive for May, 2009

Brand Equity

Perceived Quality: Critical Asset For Brands


American Express Brand Perceptions Strategy

Perceived quality is a brand association that is elevated to the status of a brand asset for several reasons:

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Naming Steve Rivkin

Keys To Impactful Name Design


Tide Brand Naming Strategy

A great name should be pleasing to the ear and to the eye. So how do designers make a name look good?

We got some answers from Scott Yaw, a senior partner and managing director of Deskey Integrated Branding in Cincinnati. Scott joined Deskey in 1978 and his expertise encompasses brand strategy and identity programs. Some of Deskey’s recognizable brand design efforts include the iconic Tide detergent bull’s-eye logo, DeWalt Power Tools, Ingersoll-Rand equipment, 3M’s Post-It Notes, Brawny Paper Towels and retail packaging for Starbucks.

Q: You say that smart design is a competitive weapon. How so?

That statement actually paraphrases a principal our founder Donald Deskey said in the 1940’s, but we find it very relevant. With so many parity products and services in today’s market place, design is one strategy marketers can use to differentiate their brands and help close the sale with customers. When marketers fail to differentiate, customers will likely choose low-price. This is the start of commodity thinking and the race to the bottom begins. Great design moves both hearts and minds. Great design moves customers up to premium price points.

Q: Let’s say a client brings you a name for a new product. Describe your process for turning that name into a visual identity.

We start the identity process with a five-step analysis: (1) How the product works; (2) How and where customers use the new product; (3) What significant benefits (if any) it provides to customers; (4) The actual selling environment where the product appears; and (5) An audit and evaluation against competition.

We prefer developing unique graphic symbols and easy-to-read word mark typography for new products. Unique graphic symbols can be trademarked as a barrier against forthcoming competition. Unique graphic symbols and easy-to-read logos with ownable colors can be integrated with marketing programs to create a consistent look.

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Brand Watch Mark Ritson

Ford’s Fruitful Brand Strategy


Alan Mulally Ford Brand Strategy

Ford chief executive Alan Mulally is famous for one of the first decisions he made after joining the automotive company in 2006. Barely three months into his tenure, Mulally borrowed big, using his company as collateral. At the time, the decision raised eyebrows, but it is now widely regarded as a masterstroke. The $26bn he raised, when financing was still cheap and available, has enabled Ford to avoid bankruptcy or the need to seek government handouts. It has also led to a growing recognition that, compared with ailing rivals Chrysler and General Motors, Ford is in much better financial shape for the long haul.

Mulally certainly deserves credit for his savvy financial decision-making, but it is his brand strategy that is at the heart of Ford's positive outlook. Ford is a salutary example of one of the hardest lessons of brand management – one that I continue to struggle to get through to MBAs and executives. It is not about creating brands any more, it's about culling them. While this is not a difficult lesson to explain, to accept that you should kill off some, perhaps most, of your brands to help your company grow is a counterintuitive step many marketers simply cannot contemplate.

Yet Ford illustrates the perils of pluralism and the potential salvation that comes from reducing the brand portfolio. Once upon a time, when cars were still a relatively new invention, Ford enjoyed that most focused and parsimonious of brand architectures – a branded house. However, acquisition and expansion ensured that, like most companies, Ford grew this portfolio and gradually lost its focus. One of Mulally's first decisions at Ford was to sell off many of these additional brands – Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin have all been divested, and Volvo is now up for sale, too. They are all fine brands, but not part of Mulally's vision for Ford, and were, therefore, a dangerous distraction from the core business.

Managing a brand portfolio is like learning to juggle. You start with the simple task of throwing a tennis ball into the air and catching it. If you add a cricket ball, the challenge becomes significantly more difficult. If you keep adding more disparate items – a shuttlecock, a brick, a football – the task eventually becomes impossible and all the items crash to the floor. Unlike GM, which continues to struggle with its seemingly impossible juggling act of managing a dozen brands, from Hummer to Chevrolet, Ford decided to discard its distractions and focus on managing one brand well.

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Mark Ritson Marketing

Brand Management From The Field


The Damned United Brand Marketing

The Damned United, a film charting the tumultuous 44-day reign of Brian Clough at Leeds United FC, opened recently. UK Marketers under the age of 30 will probably remember him as a rather melancholy old man, but the young Clough was a wonder to behold. Imagine a manager today leading a club toiling at the bottom of the Championship to win not only the Premier-ship but two back-to-back Champions League finals as well. That was, in essence, the equivalent of Clough's astonishing achievement as manager of Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 1980.

He was a genius. But what can the Clough School of Management teach all marketers about marketing?

Keep it simple

Clough had a simple philosophy. He believed that defenders should defend, midfielders create chances and strikers score goals. There was little else to his tactics. His simple approach carried over to his coaching 'technique' in which he would stand on the training ground holding a big stick shouting 'hit the target' repeatedly at his players.

The simplicity of his approach was its biggest strength. As John McGovern, one of his players, explained: 'He made everything crystal clear to ordinary working men, which is what footballers are. If you make things clear to them and make them work hard, you will find you have an amazing product.'

One of the biggest weaknesses of some marketing strategies is their complexity. It's easy to come up with a brand strategy that no one can understand, much harder to devise one straightforward enough for everyone to be able to execute.

Take Procter & Gamble's chief executive, AG Lafley, who is widely regarded as a great leader. Under his 'Sesame Street simple' philosophy, brevity, repetition and simplicity have replaced complex corporate buzzwords. P&G's entire corporate strategy fits onto one sheet of paper.

Pick an enemy

Clough was a man who bore grudges. Throughout his career he picked fights with anyone he felt opposed his own viewpoint. His most famous feud centred on his hatred for the tactics of Leeds United and the club's most successful manager, Don Revie.

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Brand Strategy

Local Brand Dominance


Local Brand Dominance Strategy

In today’s globalized world where global brands quickly adopt to local demands in order to gain customer acceptance, being a local brand seems like waging a losing battle. But one Asian brand has proved this wrong by beating a global giant flat!

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