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Category: Branding: Just Ask…

Branding: Just Ask...

Branding vs Promotions

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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 Chris, a VP of Marketing in Atlanta, Georgia who writes…

“I head up the marketing efforts for a regional sports bar & grille chain with 50+ stores. I work with many restaurant operators and have not been able to put into simple terms how the short-term strategy of promotions is a mistake versus marketing our brand for long-term growth. The casual dining industry has been struggling and patience is not something my colleagues have and so easily we fall into the “we have do something” trap and come up with another promotion. We communicate WHAT we have [i.e. the promotions: $5 Cheesesteaks; Trivia @ 7pm; Kids Eat Free on Tuesdays, Late Night Happy Hour, etc.] instead of communicating WHY a potential customer should visit us [we are fun, we love sports, we have great food, etc.].

We have not marketed our brand in the past. There’s always been an offer attached or we just advertise an offer. I’m trying really hard to break the cycle. Research we just conducted shows our brand awareness is weak. We’re trying to be all things to all people so we don’t differentiate ourselves. We’re not providing the WHY. Anything you can share that will help me explain this on a level that an owner/operator can understand would be greatly appreciated.”

Thank you for your question, Chris. Brands exist to differentiate one company’s products from all other products in its category. By definition, brands are able to charge a price premium over commodities – the stronger the brand, the higher the price premium that can be charged. Brands deliver other benefits to companies as well:

  • Increased revenues and market share
  • Increased stock price, shareholder value and sale value
  • Increased word-of-mouth marketing
  • Increased customer loyalty
  • Increased ability to attract and retain talented employees
  • Increased employee job satisfaction
  • Increased clarity of vision
  • Increased profitability
  • Decreased price sensitivity
  • Increased ability to mobilize an organization’s people and focus its activities
  • Increased ability to expand into new product and service categories
  • Additional leverage with vendors and retailers (for manufacturers)

Brands are built over time through strong brand identity (logos, taglines, etc.), marketing communication and customer service. Most importantly, you must consistently deliver on the brand’s unique value proposition each time the brand interacts with the customer at each point of customer contact.

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Branding: Just Ask...

Brand Strategy For Medical Centers, Health Systems

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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 John, a VP of Marketing in Los Angeles, California who writes…

“First some background as I lead up to my question. I am leading the branding exercise for a university medical center with an integrated clinical delivery system. We currently have a segmented brand. We have traditionally represented the academic and professional brand. Our health system comprises the clinical and consumer brand.

We recently completed a strategic plan that outlines the vision and goals for the academic, research and clinical enterprises. Interpreting the strategic direction of the organization from a branding perspective will help inform naming and visual identity. Concurrently, we have embarked on a visual identity exercise and are in the final stages of selecting a new logo.

What should we explore and clarify in regards to the brand strategy and brand identity of these two brands?”

Thanks for your question John. In our view, brand identity is designed to create differentiation, recognition and recall for a brand. It should be based upon the brand’s intended essence, promise and personality, that is, its positioning. Advantageous positioning is the result of thorough competitive analysis, deep customer understanding (for each segment) and an honest assessment of organizational strengths and weaknesses. A robust identity reinforces the most advantageous brand position and is based upon rigorous stakeholder research and competitor analysis.

Consider exploring these topics as you move forward in your branding exercise:

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Branding: Just Ask...

Building Emotional Connections With Customers

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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 Karen, a Brand Manager in Boston, Massachusetts who writes…

‘What brand research is best to build an emotional connection with customers?’

Hi Karen, thanks for your question. A number of companies have asked us to move their brand from a  position based on unique product attributes and features to a brand that is highly emotionally connected to its customers based on aspirational qualities and shared values. Some of these organizations have sophisticated brand management functions with rigorous quantitative research and analytics. Unfortunately, some of these companies also insist that we conduct quantitative research to discern statistically significant differences between how their brand delivers on a variety of product functions and features (and sometimes customer benefits) versus the competition rather that yielding to a process that identifies deeply held customer values through qualitative research and then links those values to authentic brand values through a more intuitive and exploratory strategic process.

In brand management, there is a time for quantitative analysis and there is a time for qualitative discovery. If you want your brand to connect with people on a deep emotional level, qualitative discovery is the approach you want to take.

Karen, you will find more on building emotional connections to your brand here.

Have a question related to branding? Just Ask The Blake Project

Sponsored By: The Emotional Connection Workshop

FREE Publications And Resources For Marketers

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Branding: Just Ask...

Increasing The Appeal Of Your Brand

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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 Susan, a Vice President of Marketing in New York, New York who writes…

“How can we broaden the appeal of our consumer packaged goods brand?”

Thanks for your question Susan. Extending a brand to a new consumer segment requires innovation around a higher meaning. To extend the meaning of a brand to appeal to a wider consumer segment is more about meaning than products. Creating new value always involves proposing new or unexpected meanings that delight consumers. What matters most to people is not the function or performance of a given product, but their emotional, psychological and cultural connection to what the product means to them. New value is in the “meaning” not in the physical thing. People don’t just buy product, they buy into a higher meaning. This unexpected idea, unsolicited by user needs, once discovered, turns out to be the very thing people were waiting for, just not asking for. Increasing a brand’s relevance to a broader consumer segment requires insight to be out ahead of the customer’s stated needs and connecting with their unspoken aspirations and dreams. This is what people really care about. The products / brands that best represent these higher ideals are usually the ones that reshape their categories, change people’s behavior and lead markets.

Study those that are most important to the brands future, reposition the brand for higher meaning and develop the strategy for bringing this new meaning to life at every point of customer contact.

Have a question related to branding? Just Ask The Blake Project

Sponsored by: The Brand Positioning Workshop

FREE Publications And Resources For Marketers

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Brand Architecture Branding: Just Ask...

Brand Strategy For Acquired Brands

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Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you build strong brands. This is our reason for being. BSI readers know, we regularly answer questions from marketers everywhere. Today we hear from Robert, a Vice President of Marketing in Chicago, Illinois who writes…

“The insurance company for which I work recently acquired a much smaller, established company out of state to allow for geographic diversification into new markets. We don’t want to immediately rebrand everything to the parent company brand, but also don’t plan to keep using the acquired company’s brand as a DBA name much beyond a transition period that allows agents and policyholders to get used to the new company brand. Are there some broad strategies or rules of thumb about how and how quickly to morph from one brand to another?”

Thanks for your question Robert. Assuming you have already made the decision to transition all acquisitions to your brand’s name, the key thing is to communicate each transition in a way that the acquired brand’s target audiences have heard about the transition at least 7 to 12 times before it is fully executed. In this way, they will associate the new name and identity with the former name and identity.

This can be accomplished through communication or by that and linking the two names/identities for a period of time. For instance, you can render the acquired brand as a sub-brand of your brand or it can be endorsed by your brand for perhaps a year or two before the acquired brand is dropped and replaced by your brand. On the side of caution, I would also explore any associations the acquired brand’s target audiences have with your brand’s name/identity just in case there are any negative or confusing associations that need to be addressed prior to the transition.

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