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Archive for December, 2011

Brand Management

Brand Strategy: The Rudder That Steers The Ship

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Brand Strategy Brand Management

In many business organizations, there is still much confusion about the role of strategic brand development and brand management and who within the organization should lead it.

Brand strategy and brand management is too important to be left to marketing people.

That’s my spin on the famous David Packard quote (as in Hewlett Packard) about marketing being too important an activity to the well-being of a business enterprise to be left in the hands of marketing people alone.

Business leaders have notoriously looked at marketing with a critical eye. Marketing is not a “hard discipline” like engineering, sales and finance. Business leaders love quantified activities that facilitate a predictable return. Marketing doesn’t provide predictable returns.

And in today’s social media, permission and privacy driven world, marketing is even more suspect by consumers. Customers want real, authentic connections and engagement to brands, not more marketing and selling.

Brand strategy and brand management is not a sub-discipline of marketing.

As brand strategy and brand management becomes more essential for marketplace success, enlightened business leaders have moved it further away (and upstream) from the core competencies within marketing organizations. 

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Brad VanAuken Branding: Just Ask...

Brand Strategy: How Do Sub-Brands Work?

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Brand Strategy Touchstone Pictures

We welcome and answer marketing questions of all types here on Branding Strategy Insider. Today's question comes from Martin, a Brand Consultant in Brisbane, Australia. He asks:

"I am consulting a non-profit organization on improving their brand strategy. They support people affected by crime, including perpetrators. While some people are fine with that, others balk at it. They are considering a sub-brand to cover the work that they do with (non-perpetrator) families and children and victims of crime. How would such a sub-brand work?”

Thanks for your question Martin. Sub-brands (or separate brands) can often create enough of a distance from the parent brand to reduce cognitive dissonance related to seemingly conflicting brand associations. Disney was successful in doing this by creating the Touchstone and Miramax labels for R rated movies that did not deliver against Disney's wholesome "family entertainment" image. Hallmark created Shoebox and endorsed it with the Hallmark brand ("A tiny little division of Hallmark") because people originally did not think irreverent, edgy humor was appropriate for the Hallmark brand.

The question is, "Should the new brand be an entirely separate brand not linked formally to the original brand or should it be a sub-brand of the original brand or endorsed by that brand?" It depends on how much distance is required. If your client does create a new brand for the victims of crimes, it should come to be known as the organization (or portion of the overall organization) that represents the victims rather than the perpetrators of crimes. If it is a sub-brand, it could have its own name (as if it were a separate organization or group) or it could be a generic descriptor (such as "Crime Victims Division") under the parent firm's name. 

All the best with your consulting project Martin.

Have a question related to branding? Just Ask…

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Derrick Daye Internal Brand Building

Brand Success And Brand Aligned Employees

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Brand Strategy Internal Brand Building Zappos

“Fools say they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others’ experience.” – Otto Van Bismarck

We are obsessed with being first-movers. In a world of constant creation and exchange, we long to be the first to develop a new technology, to introduce the latest fad, and to offer our opinion, especially when it is unsolicited. From birth, we are reared to believe that wisdom and satiety are reserved only for those men and birds who rise early.

But as Bismarck reminds us, patience, too, can reap rewards. It allows us to observe and learn from others’ missteps. It also allows us to observe their successes, and gives us time to think deeply and act meaningfully as we apply these lessons to our own lives. For Bismarck, embracing the role of second-mover meant foregoing immediate fame and power for more gradual progress. War by war, treaty by treaty, he developed a kind of diplomatic omniscience that allowed him to predict the outcome of his own decisions with great confidence. Bismarck’s reward was an empire of astounding cultural and economic influence. For brands in the twenty-first century, the potential rewards are not very different.

The second-mover strategy runs counter to everything we’ve ever believed to be true about successful brands – they are supposed to be the innovators, the pioneers, the sole occupants of a neatly organized nook in the otherwise tangled mess of fatty tissue that is our brain. But gaining inspiration from the experiences of other brands should not be confused with imitation. Indeed, the practices and behaviors of the best brands in the world – whether we characterize them as such based on financial value or societal ubiquity – should be benchmarks for all organizations. Airlines should take note of Apple’s devotion to design at every touchpoint. Luxury fashion houses should strive to match the seamlessness of Amazon’s shopping experience and customer service. Consulting firms should heed Coca Cola’s masterful articulation of, and allegiance to, its heritage.

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Branding Trends Derrick Daye

Top Twelve Branding Keys For 2012

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Branding Trends 2012 Brand Strategy

The 12th year of the 21st century is close upon us, bringing not just a new slate, but also a sense of significance: the very number 12 commands a lot of attention, in different ways.

For product brands it’s a unit of trade – 12 units to a dozen, said to be cheaper than other number sets. Service brands can identify with the 12 labors of Hercules. For readers there’s Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Virgil’s 12 books of the Aeneid, and the Bible’s 12 Apostles. Music? There’s the holiday’s 12 drummers drumming and 12 studio albums released by the Beatles.

Once on celluloid, now digitally viewed, there are popular films: 12 Angry Men, Twelve O’clock High, and who can forget The Dirty Dozen. And whether an early or late adopter, there are 12 function keys on a computer and 12 “buttons” on telephonic key pads. Oh, and as everyone knows, there are 12 inches to a foot, 12 ribs to a chest, and 12 months to the year, with 12 associated constellations – those star configurations once thought to be portents of the things to come.

But as this is the 21st century, we prefer to rely upon the validated power of predictive loyalty and engagement metrics. Those, incidentally, allow marketers to measure the direction and velocity of consumer values and expectations at least 12 months in advance of the marketplace.

So we offer up 12 trends for 2012. Because success comes from acting on a trend when it’s identified – not waiting for market highs and lows. These 12 will have direct consequences to the success, or failure, of next year’s branding, engagement, and marketing efforts.

1) Value Is the Deal 

Differentiated and believable brand meaning – emotional, rational, functional, and experiential – becomes a more effective and profitable surrogate for value than low-lower-lowest pricing strategies. But only the consumer gets to say how “valuable” is actually defined. Employ effective systems to listen to them and then figure out ways to tune in the consumer’s frequency.

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Brad VanAuken Brand Identity Branding: Just Ask...

Evolving Brand Identity

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Brand Strategy Brand Identity Betty Crocker

Branding Strategy Insider welcomes and answers marketing questions of all types. Today's question comes from David, a Marketing Manager in Salt Lake City, Utah. He  asks:

“I am hoping you can lend some unbiased direction. Our organization has thousands of products in a variety of mediums. As we move towards a more comprehensive visual identity system, we are concerned that by the time we get to the end of such a project, the intended results will be compromised due to the constant change in media. I was at a AIGA PIVOT conference in October where Terry Irwin, Professor and Head of the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon, suggested an era of organic branding and visual identity might be the direction of future visual identity programs.” 

Thanks for your question, David. There are a few things I would have you keep in mind as you are considering this: 

  • To be highly effective, brand identity needs to be consistent across media/uses and over time. Otherwise it is much more difficult to encode and decode brand recognition and associations in memory.
  • Any time a brand identity project is pursued, one should strive for an identity system that works in all current and potential future contexts. That is, maximum flexibility needs to be designed into the system.

Brand identity can and will evolve over time, but usually it does so incrementally so that the new identity is a refreshed extension of the old identity. In this way, one does not lose the recognition and positive associations that existed with the previous identity. Consider brands like Betty Crocker (pictured), Quaker Oats, KFC, Xerox and Morton Salt, they changed significantly over time, but only a little bit at a time.

In addition David, we think you'll find these thoughts on brand identity change meaningful:

Successful Brand Identity Change Begins Within

Branding Debate: Does Logo Design Really Matter?

Have a question related to branding? Just Ask…

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