Being the owner of a strong enduring, financially valuable
brand is what “branding” and brand management should be all about. When it
comes down to it however, most marketers place the emphasis of their brand
building initiatives on the decorative aspects of branding – things like making
logos, taglines, imagery, and marketing communications.
Marketers, at long last, need to stop, step back and adjust
their thinking and approach to brand management as a means of delivering what customers
expect and what customers experience. When brands deliver the goods, they become indispensable. When customers
perceive brands as indispensable, they become transcendent brands and the
brand’s owners reap the rewards of competitive advantage and enduring financial
The wrong strategy
and the wrong tactics.
Most marketers approach branding as a communications problem
and spend many millions of dollars crafting messages to build brand awareness.
Of course awareness is a critical component in marketing, but awareness of
something is not the experience of something.
Building awareness is not strategy it’s a tactic. In many
cases it’s the wrong strategy and the wrong tactic. It’s the cart before the
horse. So much creative energy is placed on creating communications and
promotional activities to build awareness that the communication itself becomes
a surrogate for real brand experience. Just because your ads are cool, funny,
or even memorable does not guarantee customers will engage with a brand in ways
that make the brand indispensable to them.
Most media advertising is entertainment. While entertainment
value may help build awareness, it does nothing for delivering long-term
indispensable experiences customers crave from the brands they love.
So much branding is nothing more than flavor of the month.
This is propagated by marketers throwing their advertising accounts up for
review every year or so, seeking new “creative” ideas to “freshen” the
brand and to get their brand name out there in ever more sticky ways. Ad agency
business executives love these pitches. Most of this stuff is temporary rather
In our fragmented, media-obsessed culture, creating a
transcendent indespensible brand requires a completely different approach to brand
creation and brand management.
Transcendent brands focus on customers not communications,
on purpose rather than promotion. The biggest ad budget is not a guarantee for
creating a transcendent brand. Transcendent brands are always centered in the shared values of the user and the provider – where
the needs of customers are aligned with the brand’s reason for being.
The mission of transcendent brands (beyond sales and
money-making) is to add new value to customers rather than competing for the
value that already exists. All transcendent brands focus on the creative plane
rather than the competitive one.
Rather than asking what TV shows to sponsor, owners of
transcendent brands are continuously asking deeply introspective questions like
“do our customers tell us they live better lives as a result of our presence in
the marketplace”? “What makes our brand
uniquely capable of providing value our customers care about”? “If our brand disappeared, would customers we
Experiences are more
transcendent than promises.
Marketing is a discipline long on promises and short on
experiences. So much of brand strategy
is focused on getting the “brand
promise” right. Because brands represent meanings as well as things, many
marketers focus on what they desire their brand to mean to customers. However
this is often disconnected from what customers want the brand to mean, or what
their brand is even capable of meaning.
The big difference is customers experiencing what they love
now, rather than hoping for what might be later. The promise of your brand is
worth less to your customers than the experience of your brand. When your brand delivers experiences
customers love, in ways that are aligned with your shared values, customers will
celebrate your brand in ways no ad campaign ever will.
Sponsored by: The Brand Storytelling Workshop
FREE Publications And Resources For Marketers