Doug Garnett’s Blog


A Baker’s Dozen Truths About Brands and Brand Advertising

Brand has become the marketing religion of our time and takes on outsized importance in every decision. And that leads to a bunch of lists – each claiming to reveal “the” absolutes of brand building.

The following makes no claim about summarizing absolutes. But the more lists I see, the more I love the far more humble and practical sense of brands found among this bakers dozen. And, the more I think they reveal important things that enthusiastic brand enthusiasts seem to have forgotten:

1. Brands build through YEARS of consistent efforts.

2. No, really. Brands build far slower than anyone wants to think.

3. Building a brand requires not only years, but consistent execution throughout that time.

4. Convincing consumers of a product’s unique value creates brand far more quickly than does lifestyle communication.

5. There are many ways your business can leverage advertising to drive profitability other than “Brand Building”.

6. There are many flavors and types of advertising – all will build brand. That means so-called “brand advertising” may be exactly the wrong way to build your brand.

7. Most brand theorists seem to love exotic and abstract theories of brand. But you’ll only see profit if they generate a practical advantage.

8. The emotions that create economic power for a brand are not usually hot blooded emotions.

9. Creating passionate connection is only possible for a small percentage of brands – and then only with a small percentage of their consumers.

10. You can create tremendous profit advantage from brand – without succumbing to the pressure to drive for artificially passionate connections.

11. Most consumers don’t want to be friends with your brand.

12. Brands, companies, and products have life stages – each requiring very different types of brand advertising, brand communication, and brand development. Sadly, most brand theory is driven by the experiences of mature consumable brands at companies like Pepsi, P&G or Johnson & Johnson. There are many life stages where these lessons don’t work.

13. Brands follow the Double Jeopardy Law postulated by Ehrenberg: “Brands with less market share have far fewer buyers and these buyers are slightly less loyal (in their buying and attitudes).” (Byron Sharp, How Brands Grow, Page vii, Oxford University Press, 2010). In other words, brand loyalty is less important to building a brand than is bringing new consumers to purchase the brand.

These are few absolute rules of branding. Each situation raises unique brand realities. But that is also no excuse for ignoring the brand laws and guidelines that experience AND statistical analysis can show us. (Read Sharp’s “How Brands Grow” for a great set of laws derived from statistical analysis of brand results.)

And now the real bottom line. Far too many suppliers (agencies, consultants, production companies) want to use work on your brand to get their next job.

So stay grounded and don’t get lost in the wilderness of brand theories. The ultimate goal of a brand is to increase profit by driving the same or more sales with less cost. How do your brand efforts stack up?

Copyright 2011 – Doug Garnett – All Rights Reserved

Categories:   Advertising, Brand Advertising, Business and Strategy, Communication, Innovation, Marketing Research, Retail marketing, Technology Advertising, TV & Video


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