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Thursday, June 2, 2011
Branding Without Advertising
Can you build a compelling brand without spending enormous amounts of money of advertising?
The answer is yes.
Costco does it.
So does Wizard Academy.
While we're at it, let's throw in Starbucks, Facebook and Google.
They may not purchase traditional newspaper, radio or TV ads, but Google, for example, invests heavily in its brand. The home page offers nothing but a search box and links to their services. That strategic decision sacrifices hundreds of millions of dollars in potential ad revenue, but Google weighs that against building its brand around something more important than cold hard cash.
They have put customer needs first.
They have narrowed their focus.
So much so that Google now owns a single word.
To the point where "to Google" has synonomous with the word "search". Its now part of our everyday language, used as a verb instead of a noun.
They also have a brand promise that supports their story.
"Don't Be Evil".
There was a time when ad agencies and media companies also served as chief brand architects for their clients. That was back in the 20th century when the media-industrial complex reigned supreme and audiences were easier to reach. But, that era packed up and left long ago, leaving many design firms and media suppliers forced to reconile the fact that high level brand strategy that guides creative efforts are being developed elsewhere.
In today's 21st century Digital Economy, brand strategy requires a fundamental knowledge of business operations, financial engines, competitive landscape, story development and internal culture. In the long and twisting dirt road to building a brand, external messaging usually occurs late in the process - and ONLY if its needed.
While ad agencies and media companies tend to focus on producing spots for short-lived campaigns, great brands are more enduring because the compelling story they represent has to transcend any and all platforms or potential campaigns. And when they do make strategic decisions to invest in on-the-ground advertising or marketing tactics, well-branded companies enjoy better results thanks to a sharper message that lands with a resounding THUD! in the mind of the customer.
Brands of distinction make selling easier.
With or without the ads.
A great example is Brock Wagner’s Saint Arnold Brewing Company. This Texas-based micro-brewery has made suds according to European tradition, without the additives and preservatives common in mass-produced beers. And when you hear Brock's story, it just might resonate with part of your own brand-building efforts.
Brands of distinction like Saint Arnold are built on much more than eye-popping logos, clever taglines or sweeping mission statements. To play at the highest level, brands of distinction share a single word in common.
In other words, the ability and capacity to not only make a promise, but to keep it.
Hundreds of companies have blown billions of dollars on Super Bowl ads and other major events trying to build a brand. However, buying your way into the hearts of customers may not be the most effective strategy.
Is there something big companies like Google and smaller ones like Saint Arnold have done with their brand-building efforts you could replicate?
Do you have a remarkable product or service, 100% focused on what your ideal customer cares about most?
Have you been laser-focused on crafting a timeless "story" and enduring message people will actually believe in?
It is possible to create a compelling brand while spending relatively little on advertising. Much tougher to advertise your way to the top without a meaningful brand to take you there.
If you do have to advertise, are you convinced your brand is capable of squeezing every ounce of value out of those precious marketing dollars?
Otherwise, you'll piss that ad budget away like cheap, watered-down beer.
"It is not slickness, polish, uniqueness, or cleverness that makes a brand a brand. It is truth"
Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/
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