Branding

I had mentioned in the previous post 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).

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The Evolution of Branding

by Brad VanAuken, BrandForward, Inc.

People have branded their livestock to indicate ownership since ancient times. Artisans and other merchants put their marks on their wares to indicate source, and with that, a level of quality assurance. After that, consumer packaged goods companies such as Proctor & Gamble (P&G), Kraft Foods and Unilever developed and refined the brand management discipline and job function.

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CMOs and CEOs

by Brad VanAuken, BrandForward, Inc.

According to Robert Rose, Chief Strategist at Content Marketing Institute, “The Fournaise Group conducted a study that found that while 90% of CEOs do trust and value the opinion and work of both CFOs and CIOs, a full 80% of them do not trust and are not very impressed by the work done by marketers. A Nielsen Study in 2009 found that the average short-term return on marketing investment was about 1.09. In other words, for every dollar spent on marketing, about $1.09 was returned.” So marketers are delivering the goods but CEOs don’t trust them.

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Here’s a quick refresher on naming your business, product or brand.

I’ve written in both my books about the importance of naming your business, but in my experience, it’s still overlooked as a critical component of a business’s overall brand image. What you call your business, product or brand can quite literally make you a household name, or an also-ran.

Let’s start with some simple rules for naming.

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Taglines are short, notable phrases that help define your company and distinguish you from your competitors — all in just a few well-chosen words.

Personally, I think every business should have a tagline. (Then again, I am a copywriter, so I would say that.)

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Question:
What is the difference between repositioning and rebranding?

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Tribal Branding

by Brad VanAuken, BrandForward, Inc.

With declining trust in traditional institutions, people today are increasingly using brands and consumption to express their identity and signal their values. Tribes come together under what they imagine are a shared set of values or emotions. An astute marketer can often help the tribe to link those shared values or emotions to its brand and its products or services.

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I have written about creating “category-of-one” brands before. Most brands spend their time trying to increase their share of existing markets. They pursue many different tactics to do so, from innovating new product functions and features and offering price promotions (which erodes brand equity) to improving product quality and creating value-added services. Some even create highly entertaining ads hoping this will help them break through the category messaging clutter. The problem with these approaches is that they are incremental and most of them can be very easily matched by the competition.

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A complete brand positioning statement would include the following:

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Today’s successful brands almost always deliver customer benefits that are more than just functional. To gain insight into your brand’s values and its emotional, experiential and self-expressive benefits as perceived by its customers, have its customers complete these sentences:

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Top 15 Actions to Build your Brand Online

by Brad VanAuken

One can use the Internet to: • Increase brand awareness • Reinforce the brand’s unique value proposition • Tell the brand’s story • Identify customers and build lists • Create a dialog with customers and potential customers Here are the top 15 actions to take to build your brand online:

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Creating an Emotional Connection

by Brad VanAuken

We have been hired by a number of companies to move them from a brand 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 companies have adept brand management functions with rigorous quantitative research and […]

Higher Education Branding

by Brad VanAuken

While higher education is a very crowded market, there are some colleges and universities that have differentiated themselves in highly compelling ways. Here are some of my favorite examples of this: Naropa University: Transform Yourself, Transform the World The Naropa Experience: Perform in an Indian classical music ensemble. Write a thesis on creativity and social […]

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The Importance of Careful Customer Targeting

by Brad VanAuken

I have positioned five wealth management brands and over a dozen other financial service brands. Most people, when thinking about wealth management brands, think the target customer is fairly straightforward – anyone who has more than $250,000 or $500,000 of investable assets – individuals or institutions. And while most wealth management firms’ customers would meet […]

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Making and Keeping Brand Promises

by Brad VanAuken

Brands make promises and then they must keep those promises. Making the promise is easy. Keeping it is the hard part. One can make a promise with words. But it can only be kept through actions. Consider BP repositioning itself as an environmentally friendly brand with the “Beyond Petroleum” slogan and the bright yellow and […]

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Basic Human Needs and Branding

by Brad VanAuken

As branders, it is useful to understand the basic needs that drive human emotions and behaviors. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs addresses this, as does Artur Manfred Max Neef’s classification of fundamental human needs. Albert T. Poffenberger, Ph.D. devotes an entire chapter to “An Inventory of Human Desires” in his book, Psychology in Advertising, published […]

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Rochester Branding Survey Results

by Brad VanAuken

In branding themselves, municipalities should always play off of their strengths. In a recent online survey of 452 Rochester area residents, we discovered that Rochester has many strengths that can be used to develop a powerful brand position.

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Branding and the Olympics

by Brad VanAuken

An interesting side story on the London Olympics (Games of the XXX Olympiad) is the power of brand sponsorships and the battle against ambush marketing. Olympic organizers have hired about 250 “brand police” to patrol the London streets to make sure brands that are not official sponsors of the Olympics are not presenting themselves in […]

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Brand Values

by Brad VanAuken

Our research over the past twelve years has shown that brands whose values align with their customers’ values have much stronger brand equity as measured by brand preference, loyalty and emotional connection. I recently read Jim Stengel’s book, Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies. He has come to a […]

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Marketing Communication Strategy is Not Brand Strategy

by Brad VanAuken

I have found that a common error advertising agencies commit is equating brand strategy with brand messaging and marketing communication. While brand messaging is an important part of brand strategy, it misses many other potential components of brand strategy.

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