Sunday, January 13, 2019

Common (And Not So Common) Brand Problems

As I was doing my research for an article that I am writing on brand problems, I realized that I had written much about common (and not so common) brand problems in this blog. So rather than write yet another post on this, I thought I would provide you with links to all of the previous posts in which I address brand problems. Here they are...

If you need help solving your brand problems, give me a call or send me an email message. I am extremely likely to have encountered and helped overcome those problems. You can find me at
And to read more about common brand problems, you may want to read Brand Aid, available here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Brand Building Advertising

Advertising and other marketing campaigns can have many different objectives - for instance, increasing brand awareness, changing brand perceptions, increasing emotional connection with the customer, transforming customers into brand advocates, or driving sales.

However, the key distinction I want to make is between brand building advertising and advertising that sells. The latter usually includes an offer or a promotion and always includes a strong call to action. Whereas the former generally does not include any of these elements, but rather strives to do one or more of the following:

  • Build brand awareness, increase the brand's popularity (most ads for new products and brands)
  • Help the customer to pronounce and remember the brand's name (GEICO's gecko, Slinger's allusions to Swingers)
  • Increase emotional connection with the customer (Hallmark's Hall of Fame commercials, Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign)
  • Establish the brand as a badge (Apple is for smart sophisticated people, Luminox is for highly competent people, FootJoy is for serious golfers)
  • Communicate key brand benefits (Liberty Mutual's accident forgiveness, GIECO can save you 15% or more on car insurance, Snickers satisfies)
  • Associate the brand with strong positive emotions (Teleflora ads, Harley-Davidson commercials, many automobile brand ads)
  • Give the brand a distinctive personality (Dos Equis' "The Most Interesting Man in the World" ads, Pistachio's elephant, Motel 6's Tom Bodett)
  • Romance the product itself (Olive Garden ads, Cinnabon ads, Christian Louboutin ads, many food-related brand ads)

While marketing is a function dedicated to creating demand and ultimately sales for products and brands, brand building ads are designed to create strong emotional bonds with people. They are designed to make brands more admirable and endearing to people. This ultimately leads to sales, brand loyalty and brand advocacy. When a non-marketer gives you grief for an ad campaign that does not include an offer and a call to action, educate that person about the long-term sales power of creating strong emotional connections between brands and people. Some marketing campaigns should be focused on generating immediate sales while others should be reserved for longer-term and ongoing brand building.

Here is a fun YouTube video featuring heart touching commercials. Or how about this vintage Hallmark commercial? This is what I am talking about. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Brands as Social Status Signals

Most people feel more comfortable spending time with people with whom they have something in common. Often people can find like-minded others though organizational affiliation. Churches provide this function as do country clubs, alumni groups, political parties, hobby-related organizations and civic organizations. But product and other brands also serve as identifiers of like-minded people. For instance, someone who drives a Prius might assume that he or she would be more comfortable interacting with someone else who also drives a Prius versus, for instance, someone who drives a HUMMER.

I am fascinated by the brands that seem to provide coding for social status. And, within a given social strata, there are specific brands that highlight even more nuanced differences.

For fun, I will mention a series of brands associated with different individuals. These are fictional composite individuals. But, based on these brands, just notice how you react to each individual. Can you relate to him or her? Does he or she seem alien to you? Or perhaps, he or she turns you off. For some individuals, you may not be familiar with some or even all of the brands. You may be able to assign a label to one or more of the individuals. Can you guess whether the person lives in a city, a suburb or somewhere rural? Can you tell in what part of the country or the world he or she lives? Can you guess that person's eduction level? Is he or she working class, middle class, upper middle class, well to do or uber rich? Does he or she have a particular hobby or profession? To which individual or individuals can you best relate? Or can you not relate to any of them? What does that say about you? Now, compile a list of your own favorite or most used brands. What does that list say about you? I hope this has made clear that brands signal much about an individual. And it helps people quickly locate their "tribes." When developing your brand, consider if it could or is being used as a "badge" or self-expressive vehicle for those who use it.

PS - Congratulate yourself if you know most or all of these brands. It means that you have either participated in or interacted with many different socio-economic groups throughout your life or you are an advanced student of brands, including luxury brands. And, if you have personally used or been associated with many or all of these brands, I don't know what to say other than you have lived a very full life and should count your blessings.

Individual A:
  • Carhartt 
  • International Harvester
  • Winchester
  • Kent
  • Dekalb
  • Stihl

Individual B:
  • Walmart
  • Stanley
  • Irwin
  • Dickies
  • Ford F-150
  • Red Wing

Individual C:
  • Barneys
  • Vilebrequin
  • Jeffery Levinson
  • Hermes
  • Rolex
  • Christian Louboutin

Individual D:
  • Rosewood
  • Jumeriah
  • St. Moritz
  • Gulfstream
  • Lurssen
  • Patek Philippe

Individual E:
  • Cub Cadet
  • Subaru
  • Dockers
  • Kenmore
  • Applebee's
  • Macy's

Individual F:
  • Vespucci
  • John Whitaker
  • MUCK
  • Le Chameau
  • Blue Seal
  • Featherlite

Individual G:
  • BMW
  • Morton's The Steak House
  • Big Green Egg
  • The Greenbrier
  • Beaver Creek
  • TUMI

Individual H:
  • JC Penny
  • Kia
  • Wendy's 
  • Aldi
  • Frigidare 
  • Bridgestone 

Individual I:
  • Nautor's Swan
  • Harken
  • Lewmar
  • Westerbeke
  • Garmin
  • Gill

Individual J:
  • The Thatcher School
  • Porcellian Club
  • Bohemian Club
  • Mill Valley
  • Caymus
  • Tesla

Individual K:
  • Under Armour
  • Bass Pro Shops
  • Shakepheare
  • Eagle Claw
  • Sun Dolphin
  • Matador