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WHAT IS BRANDING, ANYWAY?
“[Branding is] a 15-second elevator pitch that every employee in the organization can not only get and articulate, but can talk about their role in bringing that to life.” —SCOTT M. DAVIS, MANAGING PARTNER, PROPHET CHICAGO
here is no concept as vital, as discussed, as mentioned, as of the moment in the world of marketing and advertising today as Branding. Everyone uses the word in every conversation, there are countless self-proclaimed experts on the subject, executives want it, account managers plan it, strategies are formulated, money is spent, advertising is done. But the fact is, very few people actually know what the word Branding really means in this context. Is it really important to put the concept into words? Everyone seems to understand Branding, even if they’re not always able to communicate their understanding in eloquent terms. They “get” Branding, even if they can’t define it as accurately as Webster’s dictionary. So, why bother to codify something that seems so pervasive? First of all, most people who “get” Branding as a concept don’t really understand what it means to create a brand and build it into a dominant market position. The majority of businesspeople do not have a strong working definition of Branding, and therefore can’t determine what is and is not a successful brand. Some confuse a brand with a product, which can be a devastating mistake with terrible consequences. Before defining Branding, it’s important to define what it is not. Branding is not simply a matter of creating the name for a company or a product
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A BRANDED WORLD
and repeating it ad nauseam to the public until it becomes a household word. There have been plenty of brand names that have come and gone in what amounts to the blink of an eye—and advertising and marketing executives who have come and gone just as quickly, who can attest to that truth. Branding is not just taking the name of a successful product and slapping it on the box of a new product to “expand the brand.” Diversification is only possible when so much goodwill and trust have been established with the consuming public that the name will be followed wherever it goes. And even then, the product must deliver what it promises, or the brand name itself will be diminished, not enhanced. That is the polar opposite of what a Branding campaign sets out to do, yet it happens on an alarmingly regular basis. Branding is not an advertising campaign, a marketing slogan, or a logo. It doesn’t have to apply to a product, a company, or a title. Michael Jordan is a brand. Coca-Cola is a brand. Bill Clinton is a brand, and so are George W. Bush, Martha Stewart, and Julia Roberts. But this book is not a brand, because it doesn’t meet the necessary criteria. And that’s not simply because the title is too long; it’s because one product doesn’t equal a brand. An author can be a brand, but a title can’t, because it is only one product being sold. An author creates many products, while the title of one book is just that: the title of one book. Some legitimate questions can be raised about whether or not Branding is a fad. Until now, it has seemed that Branding is something that can only be done by huge corporations with budgets at the very least in the millions of dollars. But that’s not true. Given the proper information, anyone trying to make an impression on consumers can create—or become—a brand. It’s not impossibly complicated, it’s not something only a select few people “in the know” can do, and it doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. That means smaller companies will be competing on the Branding level, but it also means that even larger companies are going to have to do more work to maintain their existing brands and especially to launch new ones. There are many techniques and concepts that go into every Branding campaign...
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