Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Branding - A new coat of paint or a new foundation?

I was enjoying lunch yesterday with a client who recently joined her organization.  We were discussing brand-building and the differences between the strategic version and the tactical approach.

Where she came from, branding was all about the latter.  New colors, a different logo, and yet another round of graphic standards.  And that was it.  She left, in part, because of her frustration with the organization and its lack of a strategic branding approach.  Not just slapping a new coat of paint, but creating a new foundation!

We talked about the strategic approach - whereby the entire organization either changes or is re-energized by a brand strategy.

The strategic approach includes an understanding of your market, customers, competition, and the Mission of the organization.  Then it evolves into a brand story which can be told to the marketplace, both internal stakeholders and external customers.  After the story is tested for relevance, THEN it's time for the painter to apply the brush.

And it's amazing that when the painter comes in AFTER the brand construction crew, it works better.  The colors tell the story, too.  The identity brings it to life.  It's a beautiful thing!

The last item on our agenda was the CEO.  We both agreed that if the CEO isn't behind the brand strategy - doesn't get it or want it - it'll never happen.  

Because brand-building isn't about new construction or a paint job.  It's about having your house in order.  The people act, its furnishings, etc. That's the real art of branding and what makes this business so much fun.

So, don't just open a can of paint.  Bring out the lumber and the nails and work hard to build the brand story.  Once done, it really is amazing how "easy" other decisions are when the foundation is in place.

Brand on,
Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Doesn't anybody care about taglines anymore?

So, I've been thinking.  Better said, reminiscing.  About the days in advertising when taglines really meant something and became the "springboard" (had to use that word) for execution.  In fact, the tagline was the connection between the strategy--->BIG IDEA---->Tagline--->Execution.  This formula - if there can be such a thing in this business - at least insured the advertiser that whatever was being said about the company it was at least strategically based.

Think of your favorite tag - who else can put their name on it?  When it's done right, no other brand!  In fact, they really are BRAND lines, not taglines.

In hospitals, there are seven deadly words to include in your tag line - not quite like George Carlin's (RIP) list, but important nonetheless:  Care, There, Close, Amazing, Us, Comfort, Rank, and Hospital.  Look for the article on this in HealthLeaders Marketing Advisor.   www.healthleaders.com

What I don't understand is how many marketers - and their agencies - don't spend time on the brand line and come up with something so similar to something else it makes your teeth hurt.  Just like the guys down the street - or a multi-national company in a different category.

Sure, trademark law suggests that you can only copyright something in one category, but I'm just waiting for the next hospital to use "We Just Do It." as their line.  

Challenge yourselves, challenge your agencies to come up with something unique, memorable, and strategic -it's not an afterthought.  It's the thought that leads to the other executions.  More on this later - just had to get this out of my system.

Brand on,
Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy, Ltd.
15 N. Arlington Heights Road
Arlington Heights, IL  60004