Friday, June 7, 2013

The simple truth of branding

When this article appeared in my Linked In news feed yesterday, of course I had to read it.

While it's nice that they did the legwork, there's nothing new here.

If you've read the works of David Ogilvy, Reis & Trout, David Aaker, and Seth Godin, you know that strong brands are not built upon functional benefits alone.

If you've observed how Nike, Apple and Harley-Davidson have created cult-like communities around their brands, you know that you have to go deeper than just a "like."

Great brands not only connect emotionally with their users, they say something important about them as well.

I may be a 53-year old desk jockey, but when I lace up my Nike's, I'm an athlete.

I don't know a thing about computers, but Apple lets me create things and connect in ways I never dreamed possible by creating technology I can use.

I don't have a single tattoo, but when I ride a Harley people wonder just a bit if there isn't something a little dangerous about me.

That's how you build a brand to last; on a foundation of deep human truths and desires. Then delivering consistently, first in the product, continuing all the way through communications and experiences. 

Obviously, it's not easy. But the path to great branding is not a new one. Even with all the new media available to us, we don't need to waste our time reinventing our craft. 

We only need to get better at it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Super branding

The hardest thing a marketer has to do is change someone's opinion about a product or brand.

Imagine how hard that is if your product is chemotherapy and your target is children.

Borrowing equity from heroic characters who fight through pain and adversity in their comic adventures, the A.C. Camargo Cancer Center in Sao Paulo, has given the process a context that helps kids through the pain and adversity of cancer treatment.

While it doesn't make chemotherapy less painful, the branding and repositioning of the medication changes the expectations of the youthful patients, and that helps them become more willing participants in the fight against their disease.

The lesson here: if you can't change the product, reframe the context in a way the focuses on the benefit.

I love it when marketing is used to champion the forces of good.

Monday, June 3, 2013

ESPN can't ignore the competition

Last Thursday, Disney CFO Jay Rasulo had this to say about the emerging competition ESPN faces from the new 24-hour sports networks from Fox, NBC, and CBS.
"People are going to spend a lot of money, they're going to step up to bid on a lot of rights, and they're going to wind up a distant No. 2. So I feel pretty confident about our hand there."
Great leaders don't dismiss their challengers, no matter how insignificant and undermanned they seem to be. American industry is littered with examples of shattered companies who took their competition too lightly. GM ignored Toyota. RCA was too busy diversifying to worry about Sony. And Blockbuster scoffed at Netflix.

Great leaders use any and all challengers as a excuse to examine every potential weakness and sharpen their competitive edge.

ESPN would be wise to do the same.