What Branding Is? What Branding Is Not?

Interesting post on the subject at Branding Management:

Think of your brand as a promise … a promise you make to your clients, prospects, employees, and even your vendors. But before you make that promise, be sure you never forget this fact. It is imperative that you are able to back it up. You cannot build a successful, long-term brand on unsupported claims and wishful thinking. History is littered with companies — big and small — that have promoted themselves or their products as something they would like to have lived up to but could not.

To separate you from your competition, your brand — your promise — has to differentiate you from others in the minds of your prospects. This is the reason you cannot use quality, integrity, or price when positioning yourself in your marketplace. So many companies claim to offer these particular characteristics that none of them stand out from the others. BMW has taken note of this. Although it is thought by many to be the best car made, the company has built its brand as “a driving machine.” It sells the experience. BMW knows that there are other high quality cars on the market, so a brand built on quality would be diluted and therefore, less profitable.

Brands in Time of Crisis

When Summer Mills visited her local CVS drugstore recently, to save a few dollars she bought the store-brand facial scrub rather than the Olay version she normally uses.

“I thought I’d be able to tell the difference, but I couldn’t — I looked at the ingredients and they seemed almost the same,” says 30-year-old Ms. Mills, a stay-at-home mother of two in Ardmore, Okla. On her next shopping trip, “I’m going to buy the store-brand moisturizer and cleanser — it’s less money.”

Many Americans are changing their everyday purchases and abandoning brand loyalty, prompted by the persistent financial pressure of rising food, gasoline and electricity prices. 

Retailers are also sensing more shopper experimentation. This fall, supermarkets Safeway Inc. and Kroger Co. noted that sales of their store brands are on the rise. “In this economy, customers are much more willing to try a private-label item, and we’re seeing signs that this is happening more and more as the year progresses,” Kroger CEO David Dillon said on a conference call.

To be sure, overall sales of name-brand goods are still higher than those of store brands. Still, about 40% of primary household shoppers said they started buying store-brand paper products because “they are cheaper than national brands,” according to a September report by market-research company Mintel International, which interviewed 3,000 consumers. Nearly 25% of respondents reported that it is “really hard to tell the difference” between national brands and store brands of paper products. Store brands on average cost 46% less than name-brand versions, Mintel found.

The above paragraphs are extracted from todays WSJ’s article At the Supermarket Checkout, Frugality Trumps Brand Loyalty .

Crisis provides brands a challenge and an oportunity. Is the time that most of the brands will be put to test by tougher buying conditions or pricing beyond brand as a final buying argument.

It’s the time new brands can made their way up into the consumers minds and benefit later from surviving these harder times.

Country Brand Index 2008

This is the fourth year that FutureBrand, a leading global brand consultancy, has issued its Country Brand Index. After conducting substantial qualitative and quantitative research, this year’s Index includes rankings and trends as well as country brand analytics, travel motivations and insights into the challenges and opportunities within the world of travel, tourism and country branding. With polling expanded to almost 2,700 international travelers on even more criteria, this year’s Country Brand Index is more comprehensive, extensive and insightful than ever.

This year, Australia earns the first spot as the world’s top country brand for the third consecutive year. Not among the top 10 two years ago and rising from its sixth place ranking last year, Canada is recognized second and the United States rounds out the top three country brands in the 2008 study. Other countries making the top 10 include Italy, Switzerland and France. This is the Country Brands Index 2008 top-ten country brands:

  1. Australia
  2. Canada
  3. United States
  4. Italy
  5. Switzerland
  6. France
  7. New Zealand
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Japan
  10. Sweden

This year’s CBI touches on a variety of topics relevant to travelers and tourism professionals including: intergenerational travel (represented by countries such as the U.S., Canada and Japan), medical tourism, mainstream luxury (represented by countries like Japan and Spain), ‘stay’cations and a rise in the off-the-beaten-track trips. Other notable trends this year focus on niche travel opportunities and the changing destination landscape.

The Country Brands Index 2008 rankings for specific dimensions of the brand and here are some examples and the top performers: Continue reading

Brand Attack on the Ries’s Blog

Well seems that the topic I mentioned here just a little earlier, Brand Attack on the Rise, was took over as a main subject on brand guru Laura Ries’s Blog, in a post on how and when a brand shoul attack.

In general, the leader should never attack or name the competition. Instead the leader should promote the category. By attacking a competitor or responding to an attack ad, the leader only legitimizes the competition and the existence of a choice. Neither is good.

If under attack, a leader should instead address any problems with PR. Never with advertising. When Apple says consumers are frustrated with Vista in its advertising, Microsoft shouldn’t run ads saying everybody loves Vista.

That above, is just a quote. More, with examples and details on Ries’s blog here.

4 Tips on Persuasive Branding

Most of us think of our brand as a tool for communicating who we are and what we do. We think of logos or catchy names — totems that convey the mission or identity of our businesses.

A good brand does express identity,  Cheryl Heller, the founder and CEO of Heller Communication Design said. But great branding goes one step further. You must think of your brand less as a tool for communicating identity, and more as a tool for conveying a promise.

1. Be brief. Be clear. “Clarity and brevity do not come naturally to entrepreneurs with a mission,” Heller lamented. Use the Ritz Carlton promise as an example. Notice it does not include words like “luxury” or “hospitality.”

2. Don’t clutter your brand promise with references to how you differentiate yourself.“Who you are and what you do is core to your brand promise,” Heller said. “How you do it, that changes as you grow.” Wizbang as your technology is, it is only one of your tools. Don’t mention it.

3. Avoid common words used by other companies. Heller’s examples: strategy, core values, mission, vision, operational excellence, efficiency, value-added, character, integrity, positioning, sustainability, corporate citizen, cause.

4. Speak to all your constituents: customer, partner, investor, or employee.

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Brand Attacks on the Rise

Marketing seems to have entered a new era of attack ads. 

Perhaps it’s the tight economy and the idea that the way to grow in a recession is at the expense of your rivals; maybe the presidential candidates have set the tone for TV advertising; or it could be the influence of those masterful and highly effective Mac vs. PC spots. Whatever the reasons, comparative ads — some of them pretty aggressive — are all the rage.

First there were the Dyson vs. Hoover ads, the Miller Lite vs. Bud Light spots (remember the Dalmatian leaping off a truck?) and Huggies vs. Pampers (delivering a literal brickbat with a spot showing a mom diapering a brick). 

Now Time Warner has said it will go after Verizon in its new campaign, serving a counterpunch to its rival’s claim that Fios internet service is “10 times faster than cable.” In a seeming homage to the Apple ads, the Fios spots feature its installer humorously interacting with a hapless cable installer. 

You can read more about this in a very interesting AdWeek article. The subject pointed here is very interesting. It seems that the number of ads in this field are continuously increasing. All these while in Europe and in most parts of the world this kind of ads are banned by market regulators.

The question which come up is obvious: How this kind of ads influence a brand over time?