(These buzz words really do go bump and buzz in the night.)
Marketing has a strange, inbred need for buzz words. (I’m pretty sure my post graduate work included a course entitled “Buzz Words I have Known.”) I have worked in marketing for nearly forty years—having started at a very, very, very young age—and I have seen buzz words cycle their way through the marketing lexicon more than a few times.
Of course, it’s not just marketing professionals who use the buzz words. The current buzz word is branding. Everything is now about the brand and branding. People who have never taken a marketing course, and may not even know how to spell marketing, talk about brands and branding like they invented it: “I will do your branding for you.” “What is your brand?” “You take my money, you wear my brand.” Sorry, that last one was from a John Wayne movie–I couldn’t resist. But, I’m sure you get the idea. So, because it is so important and because everyone is talking about it…Bestadman will, by non popular demand, address the concepts of brand and branding.
First off, there is a difference between a brand and the practice of branding.
A business’s brand is how a business does business. It involves the makeup of an organization’s product or service, its organizational structure, its mission, its channels of distribution and communication, its policies and procedures, and most importantly its interactions with customers, vendors, and the public. A brand is not a simple thing. A brand is built top down and bottom up. You don’t change a brand by creating a new logo.
Branding is how an organization’s brand is presented in the marketplace. Branding includes the look and feel of its communications, including overall messaging, vocabulary, style, typeface, colors, logos, media, taglines, slogans, and spokespersons. Hopefully, an organization’s branding realistically and positively reflects its brand in the eyes of the public. I put emphasis on realistically, because no number of Madison Avenue advertisements, flashy headlines, catching slogans or brilliant logos—no amount of branding– will fix a faulty brand.
You might fool the public for a short time with false front, but it won’t last. If you want a new brand, change the way you do business. (If you want to do some effective branding follow the Bestadman’s guidelines near the end of this amazing post.)
As Bestadman, I am dismayed at the number of otherwise intelligent people who misunderstand, or are totally ignorant, about the subject. I am even more disappointed by those who misuse branding or who believe that branding will act as a cover all for any and all business related problems.
Branding is not a quick fix. Branding is not a quick fix. Perhaps I should repeat that one more time: Branding is not a quick fix.
Branding can do many things for a company. But when attempts are made to use branding alone to change (hide or misconstrue) a company’s brand, trouble usually waits. A fancy new logo won’t change how a company does business (its brand). When a CEO tells marketing that the company needs a new brand, he/she should be addressing him/herself in the mirror and then address the company as a whole.
A friend of Bestadman at one time worked for a non-profit organization. He was told by a member of its semi dysfunctional board that the board was disappointed in the company’s brand. He felt that marketing should fix it. (I know…more than a bit ironic) The member of the board didn’t understand brand, he probably just wanted to use a hot buzz word. Nuff said.
For those of you who find yourself working on a program of branding, Bestadman offers the following:
Bestadman’s Ten Guidelines for Effective Branding:
- Good branding portrays a company’s brand in an honest, positive light.
- A branding program needs to be synergistic
- A branding program effectively positions a company in the marketplace and/or in the mind of its customer
- Branding efforts need to be consistent and on-going
- Branding must be adequately funded and supported by the company
- Branding must be strong enough to break through marketplace background noise
- Branding must resonate with its intended audience
- Branding messages and symbols must be adaptable to a variety of media
- Branding must also resonate within the organization
- Branding must send a clear message about the brand
Of course, each of these guidelines warrants their own post. But even Bestadman cannot solve all of the world’s problems in a single sitting. (I would… but I also need to sort my sock drawer and everyone knows how much time that takes.) I will address the concepts of synergism, design and positioning in future posts. In the meantime, if you need my assistance for your marketing efforts please let me know.
Best Regards from Bestadman.
PS: Don’t go spending hours at the grocery store looking for “Brand” Flakes.