an organizing priciple for product experieince and messaging

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I just read an interesting study on brand recall. The methodology used saw consumers attempt to draw from memory brand logos.  Starbucks, Target, Apple, Adidas, etc. are apparently hard to recreate when asked to put pen to paper. Much easier I would imagine, would be creating logos when given marks and type from a sort board. Visual memory is better than creative memory.

So think about how hard it must be for consumers to identify a brand strategy – the organizing principle for product, experience and messaging. The best brand strategies are embodied in taglines.  Can you sing “We are Farmers, dum, dah dum, dum, dum, dum, dum.”  Of course you can.  Is that a brand strategy? Nope. It’s advertising.

The hard work of the brand strategist, the brand planner and brand manager is getting the value story right…and hammering it home with each dollar. Creating a focused, repeatable product-based “feeling” that endures and sells is what brand strategy is all about.

If consumers can tell you what the brand claim is and explain how the product achieves that claim, that’s branding. Coke is refreshment. Google is instant answers. BMW is exhilarating driving.

Not easy, but can be done with a plan.



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I met a midsize business owner last year who spent a great deal of time and money refreshing his brand. The catalyst for a rebrand is often a creaky website. When your website looks like a brochure, hasn’t been updated in 3 years and has more stock photos than an art director’s attic, it’s time for a new site. This is often when small marketing companies or agencies try to sell you a new logo and tagline. Voila!

A logo and website — a new set of clothes — make you look sharp. A tagline energizes and organizes you, but after that “Has anything else really changed?” Has your strategy changed? 95% of the time the answer is a resounding no.

In the case of my friend, he worked with some smart people who knew a thing about marketing. The tagline, a de facto brand strategy, was alliterative making it memorable by design and, more importantly, was based upon something customers wanted dearly. But did the company do its part to deliver on the strategy? Did it operationalize the strategy? Did the company work hard to prove the strategy or the claim? Not yet. The story is still to unfold.

Rebranding is not a paint job. It’s a business-building. Brand strategy is an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.  



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