Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category
Love. What does it mean to brands? Often people give presentations about “brand love” and cite brands like Apple, or Starbucks, or Virgin. Guess what? No other brand is Apple, or Starbucks, or Virgin. and you cannot just go out and copy those brands. If I stood in front of you and presented a case study about Apple it would demonstrate the “concept of brand Love” What it would not do however is help you. Many in the audience would silently mutter to themselves about all the failings of their brand. “OUR brand is not Apple,” you’d think to yourself “and never will be.” And I am here to tell you that you are 100% correct. Showing you case studies of brands that people Love is a waste of your time. For “Love” is only half the story.
What people don’t tend to talk about is Devotion. Devotion, not Love is Read the rest of this entry »
Overstock.com recently gave up on its effort to fully change the company to O.co . When will brands learn that anything but a “.com” address of snow is fraught with disaster? People have said they bailed on their “rebranding.” They didn’t bail out on “branding” They bailed out on a name change.
What these brand managers who make these decisions are missing is an understanding of what branding actually is. It is fundamentally disturbing to me that so many “brand managers” do not understand what they are actually managing.
Branding is NOT a name. I repeat, branding is NOT a name. Branding is the emotional and physical components of our system which get triggered during name recognition. The name itself DOES NOT MATTER. A company name becomes disambiguated if there is a brand, and not if there is not. Simple.
A company name becomes disambiguated if there is a brand, and not if there is not.
You know you have a “brand” when it elevates out of the name to our limbic systems and evokes sensations in the body interpreted as emotions. It is a physiological reaction, not a thought process.
Overstock got worried about being only “Overstocked” items. RadioShack tried to ditch its Radio heritage. Burger King wants to move beyond burgers… Regardless, what these types of brands forget is that people often do not even associate the brand with the part of the name. Remember Boston Chicken? They thought that to move beyond Chicken they had to change their name… oops. Why don’t these moronic brand managers learn? How about Netflix? Ouch… what was that company they were going to launch for DVDs?
All I usually have to explain to people when I talk about branding is “Mountain Dew.” When I hear the name I think X Games, extreme sports, youth etc… Seriously it is named Mountain fraking Dew!!! You could not choose a more Heidi-frolicking-in-the-hills name. But people do not associate that name with what the name actually is. They manage their brand. They do not call it MoDew (although I guarantee that has been tossed around.) They understand that the actual words in their name do not matter anymore… they have become disambiguated from their original meanings.
Overstock failed where so many of these companies fail. They think their name is their brand. And CMO’s seeking to “make their mark” trump up consumer research that shows how the brand is limited by their name.
I ran marketing at Ask.com for 3 years as we switched from AskJeeves. It was a question and answer search engines as AskJeeves, and became just a Search engine as Ask.com (after much work and positioning work.) It is named bloody ASK. Do you know what fights I had to sit through when they wanted to completely change over to a brand new name? You do not even want to know the options… Yes, it still has problems there, and the new CEO who came in, in his infinite moronic wisdom decided to try to switch back after I left. He lasted 11 months as CEO as he watched the performance gains we achieved through marketing and a better product get wiped out. It is now just an arbitration engine living off the back of Google. Unfortunately a program I launched while there… oops.
The book Positioning is right. You have to EARN your nickname in branding. FedEx, HoJo’s etc… If you try and choose your own it fails just as miserably as when you tried to choose your own nickname in grade-school. No one is going to call you Slash, or Killer.. unless you are going to grade school in prison.
You have to EARN your nickname in branding.
Heck I didn’t even choose Sean X. A brand is NOT what your company thinks it is, it is what your consumers think it is. Hold any other view at your peril.
ranty rant signing off…
Chrysler ran an ad on the Superbowl in 2011 for the Chrystler 200, that embodied their brand, repositioned it, and grittily carved out a niche. “Imported from Detroit.“ It was quite possibly one of the most brilliant stances taken by a car company, for reasons I will explain below. In disservice to that ad USA Today rated the Ads in the Superbowl based on a panel of viewers via second-by-second responses to ads during the game. The ranking for Chrysler 200? 44. Huh? It has be gnawing at me for weeks, so I finally decided to rant about it.
Let me explain…
WARNING: If you are easily offended please do not read. And if you plan on chiding me for my rant after reading, I gave fair warning. So don’t blame me, blame your lack of being able to take direction. Read the rest of this entry »
There are hundreds of brands that continue to be stuck in the “old way” of thinking, pre-Web 2.0. Some survive because they didn’t jump on the next fad, and some perished because they did. Many brands are starting to get it, but for many it may be too late and Web 2.0 has passed them by. It’s time to take a look in the mirror and figure out why your company Read the rest of this entry »
It is often obvious when the client is the copywriter for their companies tagline. But seldom is the result this aggregious.
“Experience the power of the source of all your paper, packaging and facility needs. – Unisource.”
Wow. I really should not have to make any comment. “the power of the source” ? Huh? Yeah yeah I GET the horrendous pun but seriously, it makes my ears bleed. Yes, it does convey something about them and what they do… but in 14 words?
They were trying too hard. Puns are the copywriting hack equivalent of condom dispensers in bathrooms. If you’re at the point you have to use one, god help you.
They are created in advertising by lower level intellects who do the word jumble every week, and not the NYT crossword puzzle. They want to show how clever they are that they ‘got it’ immediately… In what they don’t know is demonstrating their intellectual inferiority.
It’s a slightly higher level version of the retarded kid with the shiny blue ribbon. So excited they are.
There is a reason that copywriting, especially taglines, should be left up to people who actually know words not in See Spot Run books. It’s an art of precise communication.
The tagline is not so you get it, it’s so your consumer quickly and succinctly gets the message.
Yes, the above tagline does communicate that they are in paper and facilities. But it does communicate anything differentiating. “the power?” you could insert any brand into that because it does not communicate anything. It just sounds cool.
“The power of communication”
“The power of knowing your customer”
“The power of technology”
“The power of being there for you”
“The power of power management”
It’s just linguistic bullshit and does not mean anything. But it’s a nice big testosterone ladden word.
You get what you pay for.
So while debating with someone who started to spew statistics about FriendFinder and how they have so many emails and registered users I was reminded of a basic axiom in advertising… “Sex Sells”
FriendFinder (the company) is basically Penthouse. The vast majority of their network, as far as members and subscriptions, is sex based sites. AdultFriendFinder, Penthouse, Xfinder, etc… and the majority of them are run against the same back end system. However, they also engage in fairly nefarious practices when reporting numbers… their affiliate model feeds people into the “sex” based brands.
It’s a fine model to attempt to replicate IF you have the allure of “sex,” or other highly impulse product where it is easy to get someone’s registration data because they are, for lack of a better word, horny. The majority of those sites are populated with people who are offering escort services (as women) and the “john’s” as the male registrations. They do not realize they are John’s until they start to contact the women on the site.
These are NOT dating sites, but sites you go to to find sex… well, it’s a date you have to pay for, but don’t have to buy them flowers.
The “Friend” based safer brands, as well as all of the verticals, AsianFriendFinder etc… are a fraction of a fraction of the ongoing registrations. They are fed by the affiliate network model of the sex sites in a cascade marketing model. i.e. An affiliate has to run a certain number of ads toward the registration of those sites. It’s the impulse registrations on the sex sites (which immediately request upgrades to higher levels) that feed the entire system.
Without the “sex” sites, the entire model evaporates as there is not the money for the affiliates to just feed. Match.com and it’s affiliates under IAC have similar models for driving registrations. Many of the same affiliates participated in both. However, they found that the “sex” model makes them more money. Also, as an affiliate should, but more often than not does not follow brand guidelines of the site they are promoting, they do a massive disservice to the actual brand equity. As in, they will advertise via Black Hat SEO practices etc…with ads that say “Free Sex” etc… Now if you’re a site that basically makes all it’s money off of these practices you really do not care. However, Match.com was spending so much time policing affiliates that were bad and hurting the brand that they had to scrap the program and start over.
The sex model is a quick hit designed to sucker someone into signing up once, for three months. The abandonment rate is over 95% after that time.
Now, the many smaller sites as entery points, all designed and using SEO to have high organic ranking for specific terms is a good idea if you do no care about brand, but just about making money, and can cycle through various sites repeatedly.
Omniture, and other companies specialize in multivariate testing of “doorway” pages designed to maximize the profit potential of the funnel, however, to do this correctly costs a lot of money.
In the end if you are looking at example like FriendFinder and think “We can do that model with our product!,” unless your product is naked women willing to have sex for money… probably not.
Sex, for lack of a better word, sells… because it is a hidden desire that no one really talks about. The internet was almost custom crafted with its one-to-one consumption model to take over the escort business. It’s unlikely that YOUR product is as alluring.
You are not a Republican. You are not a Democrat. You are not your car, your house, your jewelry. Your double-latte-decaf. You are not the health club you belong to. You are definitely NOT your religion. You are not better than anyone else, nor are you worse than you believe. You are not your body reflected in a mirror, your dress size, or what you eat.
For if you believe any of those things than you are not connected to those around you. And that lack of connection is what is causing your pessimism. Nothing more, nothing less.
Connection = Hope.
Get out of your head. Get into your body and feel. Feel the connection of others. Hope is the fuel that drives our nation, our economy. Today feels different than yesterday in a way you can’t explain, for hope does not reside in any logical statistic, or powerpoint chart. It’s palpable. Not being able to quantify it does not mean that it doesn’t exist.
Branding = hope, and our country was in desperate need of remembering what our brand stood for. We are not powerful because of weapons, but ideals. Ideals that cannot be sacrificed for expedience sake.
Arrogance, elitism, and isolation are but the ideals of fools in insecure skins. It is in our humility we are most powerful. It is where the brand, USA, is most powerful. The man who said “we can’t” will never go anywhere. He will sit there dreaming of days gone by, instead of building the future. For to him: The economy still is in shambles. The world is a disaster area. We still massively over-consume and pollute.
You are not a lot of things. But what you are is a little piece of the meme that is USA, regardless of whether you are American. Why? The feeling. The energy. Is hope.
Have your brand stand for something that is bigger than the little product you produce. Have it be unique to you, but resonate with all. Have your brand be “Hope.” Make your brand about “Connecting” with consumers. Make your brand “Real.” Be more concerned with what you are doing, and less concerned whether anyone hears about it, and you’ll never need some two bit hack advertiser to make your brand anything…. for your brand is you.
It is through our limbic system that advertising has the most impact.
Love me or hate me, but whatever you do don’t be indifferent towards me. I will force you to react to me, whatever that form takes. The energy required to ignore me is more powerful than that to engage with me. For that, in the end, is what we all seek to do with advertising. THAT is branding. One type is the art of polarization. Most brands do not understand that. They have sought, in the political-correctness era, to offend no one; disconnect. And in the end we have watched those brands become bland imitations of themselves, losing out to the forces that erode them from all sides. If your advertising does not offend anyone, then it impacts no one; and history rarely remembers the well behaved.
Give people something to believe in. Let them believe in your product. Allow them to believe. Politicians are the best marketers in the world, for they foster blind love, and vitriolic hatred, by tapping into the differentiating factors; not where we have common ground. If you do not dissagree with them on one small point then their other views hold no validation for you. That small area where you disagree is where all the power is, for it elevates every other positive aspect you do hold for that brand.
It is the “dirty rag syndrome.” Plant Inspectors are looking for faults when they visit a plant to conduct an inspection. The plant managers will drop a dirty rag in the middle of the floor. It is a minor thing, but it gives the inspector something to check-off. If they had nothing to check they would seek, and often, find something much more insidious. The dirty rag allows them to make a check-mark, find fault, and move on… ignoring more serious problems. We do not seek perfection, but seek to find the faults that make others human. Such is the same with brands. Their humanity is expressed in their foibles. Be they minor, the masses will rally around to defend. Seek for your brand to be imperfect, in minor ways; human.
You cannot shout your way to success, for the age of the downward dictatorship is over. Brands have been isolated from the real conversations of their consumers, believing that their downward dictate of disseminated press releases, and 30 second spots was sufficient. Today, with the advent of buzz and social media monitoring tools those brands are getting a glimpse of their future, and they are scared. The conversations about their brands have passion… on all sides. What they do not understand is that those conversations were always happening, it’s just now we have the technology to tap into them, monitor them, shape them. The brands, agencies, and vendors that understand that dynamic will usher in a new era of communication with their consumers.
Open your eyes to becoming conscious marketers of your product. Evoke passion. That, is what great advertising does, and if you’re still reading this, it does it very well.
ranty rant signing off…