The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
Branding Strategy Insider readers know, we regularly answer questions from marketers everywhere. Today we hear from Laura, a Marketer in New York, New York who writes…
“What is brand licensing and what is its effect on brand equity? Please give me a general overview.”
Thanks for your note Laura. Let’s take it from the top. The stronger a brand’s reputation, the higher the value of the brand and the greater revenue it will drive for its owner. Prospective licensees seek to license brands with the strongest reputation, as these are the brands consumers demand and retailers prefer most. The stronger the brand, the higher likelihood retailers will buy the licensed products and that they will be subsequently purchased by consumers. Brand loyalists and advocates look to their preferred brands to deliver more and better products year after year. When this occurs, the brand gains permission to extend into categories that complement its original offering. This is known as brand extension.
For example, the Mr. Clean brand, owned by P&G, was launched in 1963 as the first household liquid cleaner. Over time, the brand gained a strong reputation for its ability to clean effectively on a variety of surfaces. By delighting its consumers, Mr. Clean built significant brand loyalty and allegiance. When asked, consumers told the Mr. Clean brand team that they expected the Mr. Clean brand to offer additional products that simplified and enhanced the household cleaning experience. To satisfy these consumers, Mr. Clean developed a line of branded mops, brooms, and brushes.
These products were met with enthusiasm and eventually, consumers demanded even simpler and more effective ways to clean their homes. Today, the Mr. Clean brand can be found on an expansive list of products including scrubbing tub and shower pads, Magic Eraser cleaning pads, auto dry car wash systems, multi-surface disinfecting wipes, rubber gloves and many other products. Many of these Mr. Clean products are licensed. By owning a brand that can be extended into numerous categories, companies are able to attract and retain multiple prospective licensees. Using licensing to augment internal resources actually accelerates a company’s overall time to market.Read More
Facts feel right. They portray the sharer as informed and aware. They give a sense of pragmatism. They quantify and substantiate. But they seldom motivate us to shift from where we are now and what we like now to somewhere new.
That’s one of the roles of stories. And yet stories themselves are now such a commonplace feature of brandspeak that they are in danger of losing their magic. Increasingly they are becoming a catalog of features – a parade of facts – in a narrative format. Shawn Callahan, a marketer whose expertise in this area I very much respect, goes further. When I asked him about this recently, he told me, “Many branding specialists are talking about stories but are not telling any. You have to know what a story is and what it is not. A story has some basic features such as a series of causal events and something unexpected happening. Stories have characters doing things.”
Four things I think marketers need to realize about stories:
1. Storytelling is more than just writing. Increasingly marketers are telling themselves that anything they transcribe is a story. Not so.
2. Content is an expression of story, it is not the story itself. A brand story forms the common reference point that all branded content should report to. The same words or even ideas spread across a range of channels is not a story, it’s a script. Content must collectively capture the breadth and depth of a story if it is to be more than just a collection of common reference points. In that sense, a story is a prism and the content is light. What consumers see at any one point is an aspect. Stories invite discovery.Read More
David Aaker thinks that it will be decades before Chinese companies are ready to develop strong brands capable of competing on the global stage. While I do not agree with his blanket assessment, I can personally vouch for one of the reasons he cites for his point of view. Unless senior managers at Chinese companies value the power of branding, then investment in brand and advertising will likely be wasted.
One thing that interests me about Aaker’s assessment is that it apparently ignores the fact that Chinese brands do not need to go global in order to scale.
China is a big market now, and McKinsey estimates that the number of households with an income over US$16,000 will increase by a factor of five in the next 10 years. However, many Chinese brands do aspire to go global, so let’s have a look at Aaker’s rationale for why they are unlikely to succeed.
First, Aaker asserts, existing multinationals have a set of brand management systems and tools that are lacking in Chinese firms. This may be true, but in high growth markets like China, even multinationals are struggling to attract people who can utilize those tools effectively. Another important point is that working from a Western playbook does not always work in China, and it would be wrong to assume that Chinese companies lack creativity when it comes to marketing.Read More
Recently, in a thought-provoking post on why the PR industry, advertising and the mainstream and hybrid media need to work in a much more integrated way, Richard Edelman made this deceptively simple observation, “Ads are inherently more effective when you have something to say.”
And therein lies the crux. In a world where it’s never been harder to get people’s attention, too many brands have nothing in their DNA and in their messages that brings a smile to the faces of consumers. They exist. But there is no Long Idea. There is nothing iconic. There are no delicious insights. As a result, their marketing is often just information and, hard as it is for many brand managers to hear this, pure-play marketing information is flatline from an excitement point of view.
Presence, top of mind, awareness – whatever you want to call it – is a far cry from being interesting. Impressions mean nothing if brands fail to impress.
Before anyone says it, this is not about budget. It’s really about having the imagination and the tenacity to develop brands that are fascinating. And so many brands aren’t. It’s about knowing what Brian Clark refers to as “your particular future”. And so many brands don’t. They’re built on an also-ran premise, designed to a mediocre aesthetic and delivered in an also-ran way. As David Ogilvy himself said in Confessions of An Advertising Man, “You cannot bore people into buying”.
Hugh MacLeod has gone further, quoting this statement that he attributes to Andy Sernovitz: “Advertising is the cost of being boring”. In other words, MacLeod explains, advertising is what happens when you have to pay to interrupt people with messages that no-one would volunteer to listen to. It’s what you have to do when you have no other way of trying to catch consumers’ eyes.Read More
I regularly refer to adrenalin as the chemical of change. To me, transformation must be radical and scary, because it pretty much requires the same levels of energy and momentum to get to a ‘dangerous’ place as it does to shift to somewhere a lot more comfortable. The only difference may be the time it may take for people internally to get comfortable again.
That’s particularly true if you’re a brand that has fallen behind – where the shift required to even stay alive can feel huge. And yet for all the effort, the concern, the misgivings, where your brand lands can in reality be right in the middle of the pack – meaning that sooner rather than later, the company will need to repeat the same process in order to avoid being lost.
So often, it seems, those undertaking brand change misjudge impact. People assess what has happened from the point of view of how far they have shifted rather than looking at the two things that really matter: the active difference it has made for consumers; and where the brand now lies in relative competitiveness and interest to those in the market today and those on the verge of entering.
It’s not just brands that need to catch up that face this dilemma. Even brands that lead their fields and are widely perceived as shapeshifters can agonize over decisions that, to consumers, are perfectly sensible once they do appear. I remember having this discussion one day in an airport with the Creative Director of a global clothing brand I know well. Pointing to the new imagery on the posters in the display window, I commented that I liked the way they had extended the brand a little.Read More