Brand Baloney or a Bold Brand Full of Promise

Brand Baloney

Is your brand phony baloney or bold and full of promise?

Is your brand phony baloney or bold and full of promise?

Major Marketing Malfunction #3

 Part 1 – The Issues

Is your brand bruschetta or phony baloney? The first is appealing and appetizing; the latter is the definition of nonsense or “foolish or deceptive talk.” A brand is a set of promises and associations that a person (or group) perceives about an organization, product, service, or now with increasing frequency, an individual.

Your brand associations may be tangible, explicit and intentional – that is, they may be communicated through your graphic identity and other overt tactical marketing means. Or, your brand association may be more implicit and intangible, but still within your control: how you answer the phone, the cleanliness of your facility, or your follow-up, are simple examples. Sometimes they may be out of your control, for example a thumbs-down website review, a harmful press article, or negative rumors about you.

Brands make promises, build relationships and possess personality. They amply your value proposition and create a valuable asset that can potentially surpass the value of your individual offering.

“If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.”~ Coca-Cola Executive

Brand Promise: If you think about taking a bite into a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate or a sip of Dom Perignon you probably envisage a specific sensory expectation. As you purchase an Apple iPhone, check into the Hyatt Regency or shop at Macy’s you probably have an expectation about the experience. This expectation, is essentially the promise of the brand whether based on your past experience, their marketing or someone else’s encounter. Years ago, I took my family on vacation to Italy, a culinary heaven. At the Spanish Steps in Rome, stands a world-renowned restaurant that constantly draws patrons. How can McDonalds thrive here? To Americans, Europeans and Asians, McDonalds delivers on a simple brand promise: a cheap, dependable, fast delivered meal in a clean establishment. What’s your brand promise?

Brand Relationship: Loyalty is the outcome of the strength, trust and depth of a relationship. But loyalty in a relationship doesn’t just apply to a person. It can be applied to an offering or brand that’s bold, holds strong values and is emotionally evocative. Are your followers loyal to your people, your offering or your brand?

Brand Personality: Every brand has a personality. For example, companies in the automotive, insurance and beverage industries have all very effectively crafted distinct personalities around their offerings. What’s the personality of your brand? What are the five words you want to be known by? Would they be the same five words your customers would give me if I asked them about you?

 

Market Conversations – Listening to the Marketplace

Lackluster Listening

Lackluster-Listening-vs-Market-Conversations

Photo: Ryan Glanzer

Major Marketing Malfunction #1

Listening or broadcasting? Are we singing our praises so loudly to our target audience that we can no longer hear the marketplace conversation? To be effective in our marketing, listening is as important as broadcasting. In reality, not listening or just poor, lackluster listening damages your advertising, dilutes your brand, and undermines your marketing campaigns.

Effective listening in the marketplace reveals strategic answers about your target market, their core issues and decision-making criteria. Without this, your marketing – may turn into a futile investment. It would be like planning a dinner party without knowing who’s coming to dinner. Can you imagine the embarrassment of making a steak au poivre for a distinguished vegan guest! Irrespective of how good a cook you are – not taking your prospective guests’ (audience) preferences into consideration can lead to disaster.

Three causes behind lackluster listening [Read more…]

Tagline – Your Positioning Slogan

BRAND TAGLINES

Marketing Signature Ingredient #15

The Marketing Chef Logo

STIRRING UP SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE  BUSINESS

Part 2 – Tagline Keys

In the last post on marketing taglines and slogans we covered their importance as a marketing ingredient to position your product or service offering in the mind of your target market. To be memorable it needs to be:

  1. Short
  2. Distinctive – unusual combination of words, but
  3. General enough to be applied in different contexts

The Cornell University study also discovered that memorable marketing slogans, quotes and phrases use:

  •  More present tense verbs, versus past tense
  • Few pronouns (other than you),
  • The indefinite article “a” rather than the definite article “the”,

These all contribute to taglines that are more general than specific.

So let’s put this to the test. I took the first ten of Forbes List of 20 Best-Loved Taglines: [Read more…]

Brand Taglines – Your Key Marketing Ingredient to Position your Offering

BRAND TAGLINES

Marketing Signature Ingredient #15

Marketing Ingredient # 015 - Your Brand Tagline

Photo: M. A. Makky

Part 1 – Tagline Basics

When you think of a company, product, or service, what is one of the first things that come to mind?  Probably the tagline With so many business names out there and many more goods and services, memorable differentiation is key. Think about it, can you remember the name of your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant?  You will more than likely remember it as ‘eggs and bacon’, or ‘the nacho platter’.  This applies to many things we spend our money on.

Taglines that are memorable position your offering in the mind of your target audience.  Taglines are the key ingredient that will make your business, product, or service memorable above all others.  Taglines are what make certain cereals stand out and sell better than others.  Taglines position particular automobiles to be dependable: “Built Ford Tough” or perhaps the exceptional: Land Rover “Go beyond.

It’s unclear when the first tagline was ever used. However we do know that in 1907, a coffee company used a slogan stating their brand was “good to the last tiny drop.”  That slogan was used well into the 1980s. Maxwell House proved a great tagline withstands the test of time.  Others have had similar success stories following a few simple principles.  [Read more…]

Graphic Identity – Marketing your Brand Visually

Marketing Ingredient # 014 - Your Graphic Identity & Palette

Photo: Dave Di Biase

Food that’s colorful and visually appealing is more tempting.  Is your brand identity and color palette visually stimulating?  Or unappetizing marketing?

Your graphic identity is the visual representation of your brand.  It includes the logo, fonts, your color palette and any other tangible imagery such as photos, packaging and signage.  It’s visually marketing your brand through imagery. Brand identity reflects in every graphic display of your organization: Web site, printed materials, social media headers, golf shirts, and even your physical facility and vehicle fleet, (if you have them).  Your graphic identity is not your brand, (how you are perceived by the marketplace), but it is an important element of your branding.  Your graphic identity will probably be the first impression, the first message received by the outside world and your target market.

A strong brand has a graphic identity that is simple and distinct.  But is must also be consistent, relevant to your target audience and spark an emotional connection.  Think of robust brands such as Apple®, Starbucks®, Target®, Coca-Cola®, NBC® and Amazon®.  Can you see these brands?  What do you feel?  Each of these brands possess a level of simplicity combined with an instinctive emotion.

So what makes for a superior graphic identity?  [Read more…]

What’s The Personality of Your Brand?

Marketing Ingredient # 010

Branding iron

Photo: Shutterstock F.C.G.

Every brand has a personality – what’s yours?

Every automobile brand has a particular personality … actors, singers and great speakers all have a distinct personality.

What are the five words you want to be known by?

Test it:

* Is it emotionally evocative?
* Is it authentic?

* Is it aligned to your vision?

Whether the brand is for an organization or for yourself – make it intentional and explicit – don’t let it be accidental and implicit!

Marketing, Innovation and the Branding Disasters of 2010

The power of a ubiquitous commanding brand is undeniable. It gets our attention. We find them irresistible. Large companies invest millions into building and protecting their brand. But in the “everything you do sends a message” department, the higher you climb the bigger the potential fall.

24/7 Wall St. published a list of top ten name brands that have appear to have lost over $100 billion, (yes that’s a “b” not a typo) since the beginning of the year. The selection criteria was based on evaluations from top branding companies: Interbrand and Brand Z’s brand valuation methodology and a whole host of other market and financial criteria.

There are the obvious reputation management disasters: the oil spill of BP (BP), Toyota’s (TM) vehicular debacle, the SEC investigation of Goldman Sachs (GS) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) recall calamities.

But then there are brands that have lost their way – companies once known for their innovation: Sony (SNE), Adobe (ADBE), Dell (DELL), Research in Motion (RIMM), Nokia (NOK). The lessons to their fall are a reminder to all of us, (in Peter Drucker’s words): “Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.”

It is interesting that Drucker chose to put marketing ahead of innovation. After all, a decent product that is well marketed will always outperform a great product that has only modest marketing. A lesson for all of us. Pay attention to your marketing, especially your reputation. And never lose your streak of innovation.

Click here for the full article “The 10 Biggest Brand Disasters of 2010” in Daily Finance.

“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
Peter Drucker, The Practice of Management

Taglines – Ask About Them at Work

TAGLINES – ASK ABOUT THEM AT WORK
760 words – Less than 4 minutes to read

You try harder. You have passion for excellence, and care enough to send the very best. Like a good neighbor, you’re there. For all you do, taglines are for you.

Taglines (AKA slogans) reach out and touch someone. A tagline is the one-line (ideally 5 words or less) marketing ingredient that’s not just for breakfast anymore. It’s everywhere you want to be. Easy, breezy, beautiful marketing, because you deserve a break today. Get a tagline: it pays, so don’t leave home without it. Now, let’s look at how to create a great tagline for your company.

Bring Good Things to Life.
Taglines should focus on the benefits (always from the customer’s perspective.) The most direct way is an educational tact (especially important if your name isn’t descriptive.) You let people know about your unique selling proposition by simply saying it: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” “99.44% pure.” “Pick Enterprise. We’ll pick you up.” One of our clients, a property tax lender, has a benefit tagline that makes people do a double-take: TaxEase–We Pay Your Property Taxes. Benefit-focused strategy has even more authority with the addition of experts: “Oral-B. Brush Like A Dentist.” or “Max Factor. The make-up of make-up artists.” This strategy can also be achieved by pointing out what your competitors’ don’t have: “Where’s the Beef?” “Orange juice direct from oranges, not from concentrate.”

Rather than focusing on the direct benefit, many great taglines focus on psychological benefit, reinforcing the customer’s image of who he or she would like to be. Some of the angles to do this: lifestyle (“Las Vegas: What happens here, stays here.”), health (“I could have had a V8!”), status (“Shouldn’t your baby be a Gerber baby?”), values (“Michelin. Because so much is riding on your tires.” “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”), or problem-solution (“When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”).

Have it Your Way.
A tagline should show off your unique selling proposition—whatever makes you different, desirable, more attractive to your particular niche. If you can substitute your competitors’ names and the tagline works just as well, it doesn’t work well at all. The mustard in the yellow plastic bottle could never use “Pardon me, do you have any French’s?” The stuffiness was Grey Poupon’s distinctive. Only Wheaties, with athletes on its box, is “The breakfast of champions.” Not just any amusement park could be “The happiest place on earth.” Rides plus the Disneyland magic made it so. Two cosmetic companies take totally different approaches to selling lip color: “Dress your lips in Armani” alludes to Armani’s fashion line. On the other end of the spectrum, “Smackers. All the flavor of being a girl” appeals not only to young girls dazzled by the flavors and sparkles, but also to their mothers, who nostalgically remember their first Smackers.

Contrast these with “Use Sapolio”, “Mobil Oil. We want you to live,” “Studio One. When Only The Best Will Do!” and the beauty salon slogan “Satisfying our clients.” None are specific or unique, and all illicit yawns.

We Love to See You Smile.
If the tagline adds no information, connotation or emotion, it’s a waste of space. “We’re Exxon” was a tagline that was met with “so what?” Equity & Law’s “Need we say more?” begs the answer, “Yes, you do.”

Wordplays (“Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.”), alliterations (“Intel Inside”), twists on clichés (“When it rains, it pours.”), rhyme (“See the USA in your Chevrolet”), surprise (“I liked it so much I bought the company.”), irony (“The toughest job you’ll ever love.”) and deep-seated values (“The few, the proud, the Marines”) increase memorability of your tagline and your identity.

This is the punch. Belgian lager producer Stella Artois went beyond snob appeal, and playfully combined it with humor that makes the customer a willing participant in the joke: “Stella Artois. Reassuringly expensive.” Aquafina’s twist makes the listener stop and think: “So pure, we promise nothing.”

True, not even “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile” could make consumers believe that Oldsmobiles were—well, not their fathers’ kind of car. And “I think, therefore IBM” probably wasn’t run by any 8-year-olds before it was adopted. And Burger King most certainly wouldn’t have introduced it’s “Home of the Whopper” tagline in Australia if they’d know that “whopper” is an Australian euphemism for flatulence. That said, a tagline that demonstrates your benefits, uniqueness and punch is a powerful ingredient in your marketing kitchen. And you’re worth it, because you’ve come a long way, baby.

The Power of Promotional Products

THE POWER OF PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS
650 words – Less than 4 minutes to read

Companies invest almost $17 billion every year in promotional products, and with good reason. Used correctly, promotional products are seen 10 times as often as a billboard, have triple the recall rate of banner ads, get increased referrals and result in sales over half the time. Unfortunately, most companies misuse this advertising ingredient and waste both their money and the tool’s potential.

The key to harnessing the power of promotional products lies in communicating the right message to the right people through the right product. Many companies use a shotgun approach to promotional products. They buy large quantities of items and distribute them liberally at tradeshows, parades, and in the course of daily business.

Donna Bender, president of the Donna Bender Company and recent guest on my radio program the Marketing Point, says this approach squanders the potential of the medium. Ms. Bender worked for brand giants like Eddie Bauer, Laura Ashley and Salvatore Ferragamo before starting her own promotional product company. She was dedicated to the idea that promotional products used properly result in improved relationships and ultimately, an impact to a company’s bottom line. And what constitutes proper use? Three points: Brand Consistency, Targeted Audience and Value.

BRAND CONSISTENCY
If you’re a Marketing Chef regular, you know this point: Every marketing tactic you use should come out of a unified marketing strategy (in Marketing Chef parlance, your Marketing Recipe.) Promotional items must follow the rules of consistency just like any other advertising ingredient. As Ms Bender says, what makes a successfully branded company is that “everything they do, and everything they give out speaks exactly to who they are.”

Your promotional items need to fit your brand, whether that brand is based on dependable security or youthful energy. A company known for refined luxury giving away cheap refrigerator magnates, or a hip clothing company presenting staid leather-bound planners would not only be ineffective. It would actually undermine those company’s respective brands. Therefore, when using promotional product, find items that reinforce your message.

TARGETED AUDIENCE
In using promotional products, more coverage is not necessarily better. Gaining name recognition with the wrong audience is a waste of your effort and budget. Just like your other advertising efforts, the promotional product’s audience should be closely targeted.

Most often, the target will be the decision maker within your niche market. However, promotional products can be creative ways to get past roadblocks, through what Bender calls, “Romancing the Gatekeeper.” A useful gift to an overworked (and normally overlooked) admin might just result in years of good feelings, and more concretely, in getting appointments that your competitors can’t get.

VALUE
Narrowing your audience has another benefit: the ability to give more valued gifts. While it’s true that a gold pen set costs more than a cheap ballpoint, you actually make a bigger impact with a smaller quantity of highly valued gifts. Rather than spending your budget on unwanted trinkets for people with little buying potential, you can invest in your relationship with a few top clients or prospects.

The longer, more often, and more prominently the recipient sees and uses your gift, the more he or she thinks good thoughts about you. With a little thought, you can put something truly appreciated on the desk or in the home of a person who can influence your business for years to come. That appreciation becomes tangible—the value the recipient places on your gift can translate directly to loyalty, to a sense of reciprocity, and ultimately, to sales.

So rather than spending your promotional product budget on inexpensive items that you can distribute widely, invest in the relationships that matter by giving items they’ll keep, use and see for years to come. Finding a gift that’s consistent with your brand and that will be appreciated by your targeted audience is the key to unlocking the power of promotional products.

POSTSCRIPT For more on promotional products email me at
info@TheMarketingChef.com. You can also call The Marketing Chef at 972.444.9310 (direct), or toll free (US) 877.252.2995.

Procrastination – Why Start A Blog?

PROCRASTINATION – Why Start A Blog?
(535 Words – Less than 3 minutes to read)

Well after a little procrastination and a shift in thinking, I have finally launched the official Blog for The Marketing Chef.

So Why Did I Start A Blog?
I knew about blogs and blogging for years before I actually ventured into my first blog. So why did it take me over 5 years to start my first blog?

And, why would I want to blog at all? Is there anyone really out there? Aren’t blogs just for techno-geeks exchanging the latest developments, teenagers blathering about boy/girlfriends? The elections of 2004 brought out the best and worst in blogs from an effective political and fundraising tool to the cadre of self-opinionated political zealots proselytizing hot air agendas. Then there are the technical journals full of nomenclature understandable solely by rocket scientists and brain surgeons. So for some time I decided blogs were not for me and I paid scant attention to the “blogoshere”.

Then about a year or two ago my thinking changed. I began to see others effectively use the blog as a bona fide marketing instrument for:

  • A tool for SEO – Search Engine Optimization
  • An additional information resource for clients and prospects
  • Another “entry point” for suspects and prospects.

So today, the first official entry for the Marketing Chef, will tackle the blog as a support mechanism for SEO. If done properly, it will get your website pages spidered almost immediately and indexed in less than a week.

Blog and Ping
The basic method is to connect your blog (I recommend and use Google’s
http://www.blogger.com/) to your website. (If you don’t have a Website yet, set up a myYahoo page). You add the RSS or Atom link from your blog to your Web page or myYahoo page, so that your blog feeds into your website. You then write an entry to your blog with links to the Web pages that you want Google and Yahoo to find and index. After publishing your new blog entry, you then ping your website or myYahoo page to tell it that there’s a new entry at your blog. Then you go to Yahoo, open your myYahoo page, and the blog headline should be there.

The assumption is that Yahoo would spider all feeds going into it’s myYahoo pages and because Google owns Blogger.com they would spider all new blog entries at Blogger.com and I have seen this happen with the successful blogs and that’s why The Marketing Chef is following suit.

Feed Me Seymour!
So start a blog, add frequent entries, and in less than a week it will be getting spidered almost as you post to it. But you must frequently post to your blog, preferably daily. Posting daily communicates to the search engines that you are a serious content generator. Search engines then realize they can rely on you to publish fresh content every day. Brand new content is the life blood of search engines. Without fresh content search engines users may look elsewhere.

Feed the search engines and you will be rewarded with almost immediate listings in their directories. How well you rank by keywords and will be the subject matter for another day.

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