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.
Today we’ll talk about shameless self-promotion. That’s right, I said it! Shameless! After all, we are learning from Kim Kardashian here.
I recently had an opportunity to meet Kevin Harrington at the EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization) meeting in Buffalo. In 1984, Mr. Harrington produced one of the industry’s first 30 minute infomercials. Since then, he has helped produce over 500 product launches with over $4 Billion in global sales. Mr. Harrington was also selected as an inventor “Shark” on the ABC television series the Shark Tank.
As a branding consultant, I am the beneficiary of branding being a high profile area of focus for organizations. We have been invited into hundreds of organizations to help them improve their brand awareness, positioning and perceptions. However, perhaps one out of every five times we are contacted, the primary problem is not a branding problem. Organizations often try to solve other problems with a new name, logo, tagline, “elevator speech,” or brand marketing campaign when the problem really lies elsewhere.
Yesterday, I was drawn in again by a street person’s story. It is not the first time. If the story is good enough, it tugs on your heartstrings.
While, as a marketer, I am always leery of being taken in by total fiction, at the same time, if the story is good enough, it doesn’t even matter if it is true. It has entertained me. I give the person some money.
On September 23 a movie about baseball’s front offices will be opening in theaters across the country, starring some fellow I’m often mistaken for (just kidding…it’s Clooney I’m always mistaken for…ok, so a young Steve Carrell), based on the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis. The book focuses on Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, who took a rigorous, statistically heavy analytics approach to signing players, an approach that often flew in the face of conventional wisdom.
Brand perceptions are much more often created by the product or service experience itself than from marketing communication. Marketing communication is much more effective in building brand awareness than it is in creating or changing brand perceptions. That is not to say that marketing communication cannot be used to help change perceptions, but it can’t do it alone and it can’t do it in the absence of real changes in the product or service experience. So, when a brand perception is negative and requires a change, that change is likely to include one or more of the following:
Many organizations looking to reposition their brands are reluctant to conduct the necessary customer research at the beginning of the brand repositioning process.
They will say, “We conduct ongoing customer satisfaction research,” or “We do product research quite frequently” or “We measured our brand’s equity five years ago” or “We talk with our customers all of the time.”
But, do they know which brands have the highest top-of-mind unaided awareness within the relevant product categories?
Social networks have undoubtedly changed the way we communicate in our personal and professional lives. Many businesses are seeing this shift in communication as a way to connect on a new level with customers and clients, and are beginning to add social media to their marketing plans.
A business associate recently asked me what I mean when I say that brands can connect with people on a values level. Here are the examples that I shared with him to illustrate the concept.
“The strongest companies/brands often connect with their customers on a values level.”