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Brand Promise

Keeping Brand Promises


Brand Promise TOMS

In The Blake Project’s line of work (brand consulting) we spend most of our time helping organizations identify and develop the most advantageous brand strategies and brand promises. But of equal, and perhaps greater, importance is consistently delivering on those strategies and promises over time. Communicating the brand promise is one thing. Delivering on it is yet another. Communication of the promise is relatively easy. Develop a creative brief, create a marketing plan, retain a marketing agency, develop the creative and the campaign and the media plan and begin to communicate the message to the marketplace. This can all be accomplished within the marketing or communications function itself.

The difficult part is aligning the organization in support of the brand promise. Consider what might be a part of this. The brand promise might have implications for employee recruitment and training, performance metrics, organization design, internal systems, processes and procedures, customer feedback loops, investment and budgeting decisions, recognition and reward systems, product and service features, quality standards, customer service design…and the list could go on and on.

This implies that internal communication and training regarding the brand strategy and promise is critical to the organization’s success. Everyone must understand what the brand is promising. Further, it would be advantageous for everyone to understand why that particular brand strategy and promise was chosen. Next, each person, from the CEO and members of the leadership team to salespeople and receptionists must understand what he or she can personally do to deliver against the promise. This certainly implies the need for communication and training but also for discussion, dialog, personal commitments and tough decisions.

So when you develop a new brand strategy and promise, understand to what you are committing your organization. Developing plans to align the organization in support of that new strategy and promise is essential.

The only thing worse than not making a unique and compelling brand promise is making one but then failing in delivering against it.

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Brand Management

Brand Management Today


Brand Strategy Nike

I mentioned previously that branding goes as far back as recorded history. However, in the modern era, outside of brand identity development, branding activities were largely confined to consumer packaged goods companies such as General Mills, Kraft Foods, Nestle, P&G and Unilever. Then, in the mid-to-late 1990s, companies began to realize that their corporate brands were assets of great value that needed to be managed and leveraged. This is when companies started creating brand management positions at senior, and sometimes even corporate officer levels in the their organizations. I was the beneficiary of this movement at Hallmark Cards, when I was named Hallmark’s brand czar (not my real title).

Since that time, municipalities, universities, museums, professional trade associations, sports teams, churches and even individuals have gotten into the branding act. Talk of brands and brand positioning has become ubiquitous within our society.

Today, when we are asked to facilitate brand positioning workshops for organizations, the workshop participants are almost always the organization’s CEO and his or her staff, not the marketing department (although they participate). Further, increasingly, we are asked to facilitate a mission, vision, values workshop for the company just prior to the brand positioning workshop because the two activities are closely linked for organization brands. I have also written about the need to touch organization-wide communication, training and development, organization design, recruiting, performance appraisal, budgeting, capital investments, customer service design and other functions as a way to ensure that the organization delivers on the promises that it makes. These activities are clearly outside of the scope of a typical chief marketing officer’s role and responsibilities.

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Brand Strategy

7 Keys To Ingredient Brand Success


Ingredient Brand Strategy

An ingredient brand is a well-known brand with well-known qualities that is included as a component or feature of another brand or product to enhance perceptions and the marketability of that brand or product. The ingredient brand calls out unique features or performance and is often used to increase the acceptance of a product or brand that is using a new technology identified by the ingredient brand.

Following are some examples of ingredient brands:

  • Android
  • Bluetooth
  • Cinnabon
  • Dolby Digital
  • Plus a touch of Downy
  • Gore-Tex
  • HEMI (Dodge)
  • Hybrid Synergy Drive
  • Intel Inside
  • NutraSweet
  • OnStar
  • Splenda
  • Stainmaster
  • Contains Scotchgard Protector 3M
  • Shimano
  • (Dupont) Teflon

So, what leads to successful ingredient branding?

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Place Branding

Evaluating City Mottos, Taglines And Slogans


Place Branding Strategy

For years, I have lamented the lack of marketing savvy used in developing city and town mottos, taglines and slogans. A very small portion of these are effective in highlighting their municipalities’ unique value propositions. Most sound good but say nothing. Some actually make you want to stay away. Others are just downright inane. Here are a sampling of municipality mottos, taglines and slogans – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Effective (they allude to a unique quality or benefit):

  • Las Vegas: “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas”
  • New York, N.Y.: “The City That Never Sleeps”
  • Hershey, Pa.: “The Sweetest Place on Earth”
  • Austin, Texas: “Keep Austin Weird”
  • Eagle Pass, Texas: “Where Yee-Hah! meets Ole!”
  • Cleveland, OH: “Cleveland Rocks!”
  • Santa Fe, NM: “The City Different”
  • Jim Thorpe, PA: “The Switzerland of America”
  • Coachella, CA: “City of eternal sunshine”
  • Nashville, TN: “The Music City”
  • Belleview, WA: “City in a Park”
  • Rockland, ME: “Lobster Capital of the World”


  • Freeland, PA: “The most happening place on Earth”
  • Madisonville, KY: “The best town on Earth”
  • Glendive, MT: “Where the best begins”
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Political Brand Strategy

Political Repositioning Strategy


Political Brand Strategy

To label something is to name it, to give it an identity. Usually, if a label sticks, it implies that the opposite of the label is not true for the person or entity that has been labeled. This is a way to create “us” versus “them” thinking. “You are this. I am that. We are different. You are to blame. I am not. I don’t like you.” While assigning labels is effective in repositioning opponents in a negative light, I find it operates from a lower level of consciousness. And it rarely leads to common understanding but rather divides and creates animosity. Having said that, politicians have been using labels for all of recorded history to reposition their opponents in a negative light. Following are some recent examples of this in the United States:

  • Liberals calling conservatives reactionaries, Neanderthals, obstructionists neocons and hawks.
  • Conservatives calling liberals doves, bleeding hearts, “flaming” liberals, “nanny-state” liberals, left-wing ideologues, libs, Kool-Aid drinkers, socialists, communists and Pinko commies.
  • Conservatives have also tried to characterize liberals as people who do not believe in the Constitution, a claim that is largely unsubstantiated.
  • Many politicians have used the term “flip flopper” against their opponents.
  • Several politicians have called their opponents “extremists.”
  • Conservatives use the “Obamacare” label to diminish the credibility of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Its opponents have transformed “Tea Party,” coined as a positive label by its advocates, into a negative label. “Liberal,” historically possessing very positive connotations, has also been transformed into a negative label by its opponents. That is why many liberals now choose to use the term “progressive” instead.
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