brand craft

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Yesterday I wrote about the power of a clear brand idea. In closing I mentioned it only works if adhered to.  Smart people in the brand consulting business do training.  After the idea and architecture are sold to senior management, the consultant goes in and trains stakeholders in its proper use and care. A good practice.

I worked at McCann when they launched the new Lucent Technologies brand and the agency created a wonderful brand book that would live on office bookshelves for years, explaining the proper use and care of the brand — well after training faded. Training plus a brand book has a better chance of working. But there is an even better way.

Who is to be the steward of the brand idea? Usually it falls to the CMO and/or brand manager. But for most companies the task is back-burnered. They are too busy. So the position of “brand steward” needs to be created. A chief brand officer, if you will, but really only at a director level.  Just as legal counsel needs to keep the law in mind, a brand steward needs to own brand strategy adherence. Someone to ask “Does this work deliver our brand claim and proof array?”  

It’s not a hard job. It’s an important job. No one ever got sued for nonadherence to brand strategy. And that’s why there is so much sloppy brand craft.

Peace.

 

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I’ve met some unusually powerful brand advocates over the years. And some not so much. Both are approvers and deniers of advertising and messaging.  One advocate, a telephone company president, killed a Wall Street Journal ad containing a visual of 10 adorable puppies because “Our customers aren’t dogs.” The bad ones approve or deny ads because they like or dislike them. When a client breaks out the like-ometer, the agency is in trouble.  

And then there are clients who kills or approve and ad because they supports generic business or messaging goals such as it generates leads, get more “likes,” or offers ad memorability.  This is better but still poor brand craft.

When a product or service has an active and strong brand strategy, all the yeses and noes are grounded. They’re all strategic. A brand strategy (one claim, three proof planks) gives form and reason to advertising. I’ve never felt bad losing an ad when the brand strategy card was played. Ever.

Brand strategy makes ad craft and brand craft scientific.

Peace.          

 

 

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One of the foibles common in advertising is lack of adherence to brand strategy; more specifically to brand strategy claim.  A claim is only as good as its proof — and ads today are often bereft of proof. Here’s an example torn from the pages of The New York Times.  It has been a while since I priced a page in The Times but it wouldn’t be misleading to say the ad cost north of $75.

New York Presbyterian’s claim is “Amazing Things Are Happening Here.” It’s a wonderful and powerful brand idea developed by Munn Rabot. (They no longer do NYP’s ads.)  In an ad celebrating National Doctors Day the headline is the above stated claim.  Here is the copy. (See if you can find any proof.)

Every day, our doctors combine knowledge, curiosity, intuition and compassion in amazing ways.

They change patients’ lives. They advance the frontiers of medicine. And they ready the next generation of physicians to do the same.

On behalf of our patients, families, and everyone else whose lives you touch, thank you.

Advertising has two jobs. Accomplish the tactical objective which in this case is thank the docs. And second, advance the brand strategy “amazing things.”  This is another example of all claim, no proof.

Poor ad craft. Poorer brand craft. Peace.

 

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The boil down is what happens in my brand planning rigor after I feel I’ve collected enough data and information. Lately, I’ve been using Microsoft OneNote, to capture all the market info and links  — a cool tool. When the boil down begins I am looking for proof and patterns.

I was reading an Op-Ed piece about Egypt yesterday and came across two pieces of proof that set me off onto insights – which lead to strategy. These two proofs were the increase in sale of police dogs to citizens and skyrocketing tour guide unemployment.   Lawlessness and fear emerge as problematic outcomes of the unrest in Egypt. Proof informing strategy.

Good planners look to brand strategy that offers both claim and proof.  Too much strategy today is all claim, little proof. Too much marketing, the same. And 90% of advertising is all claim, no proof. Ground up brand planning starts with collection of product strengths, consumer insights, competitive pressures, cultural biases and proclivities, and a deep search for insights and proof. Find the right proof and you are free to move about the brand craft. Peace.

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