What do you think of when the word “brand” comes up? Walmart or Microsoft might pop in your mind. How they managed to keep the same throughout scaling to the size and success they have now. But are they the same?Microsoft is rethinking their brand and values, by including improvements like vowing to become carbon negative by 2030. Why do we care about this? Well, think about Walmart and its brands. Does it bring up any significant meaning to you other than convenience and low prices? Not really, and that’s because they don’t have a strong brand. Nike is also a great example of a brand with a story–or in their case, many stories. Their brand has upheld the “Just Do It” mantra for over 30 years. How did they accomplish this? We all know building an empire didn't come by just doing it…Yes, using this slogan as a motive behind their brand is one tactic, but their ideals to take their brand even further are definitely ones to note. Nike takes its slogan and company mission to its customers. Whether you’re a professional athlete working for the gold, or a youngster saving up for their first pair of Air Jordan’s. Nike makes their brand story about their people. And it’s been working well! Marketing tactics may have evolved, but branding follow the same age old principles that people have been using since the advent of the spoken word. Strong brand building requires telling a brand story–your story. One that embodies the values and history of your brand and you as a whole. A well-crafted brand story can help you connect with customers on an emotional level. **Creating an authentic brand story will set you apart from the competition.**If you’re interested in learning more about marketing and branding, then keep reading, it’s about to get good.
What is a Brand?
A brand is a concept that may help people’s awareness or recognition of a particular company, product, service or individual. Some examples of brands–just for funsies–include the ones we’ve mentioned above. But there are brands like the caring Geico® gecko, all the way to Will Smith. Although, his brand might be subject to change given the recent additions to his brand’s history. When you build a brand, you need to be clear about your values and what you stand for. You need to create a strong identity that people can connect with. And you need to make sure your story is consistent across all channels – from your website and marketing materials to your social media presence and customer service. You might have already tried to build your brand story. Is it hitting the way you want? Have you introduced new information to your target audience that would change their mind about knowing, liking, or trusting you? Are a disproportuonately high number of people attracted to your brand? Do they stick around for more? When you’re ready to share and create your brand story, book a call with Wizard of Ads™. Our experts prioritize building a disruptive brand, one embodying your values, history and purpose. We can’t wait to hear your story.
Name Recognition Isn't Branding
The examples we’ve been delving on might be household names, at this point. But they started out as much more than the compy names that we’ve come to know. They’ve managed to do this by creating a brand essence, awareness and presence. One that maintains the brand image and story they base their company around. The definition of branding is often misunderstood. Many people think that branding is simply the process of creating a recognizable name for a product or company. While branding does involve developing a strong name, it's actually much more than that. **“Getting your name out” isn’t going to work if no one knows what mental image to put with it.**Branding is much more than recognizing the name of your brand, the colors, logo, and slogan. Marketing and branding are aiming to formulate the right complexities and mental images your customers experience. – Even when it’s just in their heads as they think of it. Think about the first brand that pops into your head– mine just happens to be Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies. But I want you to think of your own…
- What do you see? I see the blue packaging and a giant glass of milk.
- What do you hear? I hear the crinkling of the package plastic as the fresh-seal breaks open for the first time.
- Are you smelling or tasting anything? I definitely am, the crispy and sweet chips being dunked into the milk to get just the right amount of sogginess. The smell of sugary sweet treats is faintly present.
- How does this brand imagery make you feel? Why? I feel nostalgic because thinking of Chips Ahoy cookies brings up heartfelt memories of when my dad and I used to wake up in the middle of the night and sneak into the kitchen for some cookies and milk.
Branding is Not Informational it’s Relational
Ever hear the saying “it’s all about who you know”? It definitely applies when learning how to create a successful business and brand. Don’t believe me? Think about your favorite product(s). Have you ever recommended it to friends or family you know would love or benefit from it? Did they end up getting and using the product(s)? I’d wager they did, or at the very least considered it. Isn’t the ultimate goal of branding to build and nurture relationships with current customers, and begin relationships with new ones? Well, if you didn’t think so, newsflash— because it is. When we form a relationship with a customer, we become who or what they think of when they need what our brand is selling. They hear one of their friends needs it too, then boom–another relationship and customer base is born. One of the most important aspects of branding is creating relationships with customers. Too often, companies focus on transactionally-based marketing and ads rather than establishing a connection with customers through relational marketing and ads. When you think about your favorite brands, what do they have in common? Chances are, they’ve all built strong relationships with their customers. They’ve created a connection that goes beyond just providing information. Instead, they’ve focused on providing a great experience and establishing trust. You might be surprised to know that anyone listening to the radio or watching a TV advertisement is an influencer of approximately 250 people. This is considered their Realm of Association. Having a good balance of both transactional and relational ads has been a successful solution to upholding the relationships my brand has built. The perfect ratio of translational to relational advertising should be followed in your marketing branding. Something like one-third of your advertising should be transactional and two-thirds should be relational. It’s been found that the most successful companies are those that first build their brand. Followed by offering specific incentives to their brand families over time. –All while nurturing the bonds that formed the relationship in the first place. If you want to create a successful brand, you need to focus on relationships. Building trust and providing a great experience are essential ingredients for your brand to succeed. Not relying on information and transactional advertising to do the work for you. If you couldn’t already surmise–it won’t.
What is Counter Branding?
Counter branding is a technique used by companies to build a brand that is in direct opposition to an existing one. It can be used as a way to stand out in a competitive market, or to target customers who are unhappy with a competitor's product or service. Counter branding can also be used to create a new identity for a company that is struggling to make an impression. Counter branding wasn’t as common as it is now, but is still just as trickly as its always been. There are several ways to go about creating a counter brand. The most common approach is to use the same logo, colors, and typeface as the competition, but to change the name and message to reflect the company's new values. Alternatively, companies can create an entirely new brand identity, complete with their own logo, colors, and typeface. Let’s solidify this concept with some examples. Since we’re wizards here, time-traveling back to the late 1060s will be no issue. As the clouds of smoke dissipate from our landing, let’s look back to how the 7-UP brand was swiftly overtaken by Cola. Cola changed the soft drink game from the typical fruity or root beer flavors to the “sweet, rich, brown” concoction we’ve all downed after our pizza binge. 7-up knew this new flavor of soft drink has changed the market forever, so they had to think quickly about what they can do to keep their 38-year brand–centered around lemon-lime soda–a success. Their solution? You guessed it–counter branding. 7-Up launched their “Uncola” counter-brand in 1967. Taking our example into account, below are the steps of counter-branding:
- List features of competitor (master) brand. Cola’s “sweet, rich, brown” campaign and product brought a new and staple attribute to the soft drink industry. The competing brands were centered around fruit-flavored drinks (7-Up) and root beer.
- Create a brand with the exact opposite attribute(s). 7-Up did this by changing the description and logo of their brand from a lemon-lime soft drink description and slogan “You Like It. It Likes You.” to “The Uncola: tart, crisp, clear.”
- Refrain from naming the master brand or big competitor in your counter branding. It’s illegal– besides, the whole need for a counter brand is because of the master brand’s overdominance in the market. Everyone will already know the brand name.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well a lot of the time, counter-brands become quite complex. They succeed by becoming the South to the master brand’s North, the dark to their light. An equal and opposite brand that covers the gaps left in the customer’s mind. There are a lot of variables to take into account in this case. What better way to learn complex concepts than a quality example. Let’s take Walmart once again as our example of a monstrous and overpowering master brand. It’s become the go-to for everyday needs and even groceries. But how are other stores that offer the same things competing? First, we need to understand what makes their brand tick, breaking it down to its fundamentals in customer experience:
- Atmosphere: busy, crowded and full of products, deals and life.
- Colors & Lighting: white, blue, bright and industrial.
- Auditory Signature: peoples’ indistinct chatter, echoing of the loudspeaker announcements, music from every moderately-popular era playing over the speakers.
- Pace: fast, erratic, everyone seems to be in a rush.
- Products: basic brand-name mass-produced products. Off-brand and value options. Have to be careful picking out the produce and meats.
- Pricing & Promotions: gives great value on certain items. Does not offer any rewards programs or much promotional incentive.
Here’s what the counter-brand to Walmart would aim to include:
- Atmosphere: more room to be less crowded, more orderly and logistically organized.
- Colors & Lighting: cream or darker colors, red, lower and warmer lighting.
- Auditory Signature: controlling the noise and echoing from the speakers to not seem like a warehouse. Playing less disruptive and distracting music.
- Pace: slowed down, giving shoppers a more relaxed experience when walking through the aisles and taking in the products.
- Products: having brand-name products available, but giving shoppers more unique and less generic options.
- Pricing & Promotions: offer rewards programs for brand-name purchases and incentives.
Without naming the counter brand I was describing, see if you can figure it out for yourself. Our minds are complex creatures, and most will look for the opposite side of the coin. This is why counter branding remains an effective way to take back your brand’s success. If you’re in the market against a master brand.
Are You Branded or Blanded?
I love my good friend, Dan Antonelli, for this. We’ve worked together on a ton a successful brands over the years. But building a successful brand comes with the need to understand the balance between branded and blanded. With anything great, there comes a need for balance. This holds true when curating your brand, too. Many so-called experts in marketing advise that your brand be “seamless” and “fully integrated.” Now, this may sound fabulous but in reality, those “experts” are wrong. Telling you to take any and all incongruent factors–what makes your brand unique– and throw them out the door. In short, be ready, willing, and able to leverage the unexpected if you every hope to stand 600 feet about the crowd. This is precisely why we love working with Dan and his team at KickCharge Creative so much. I’m here to tell you differently, as was Edgar Allan Poe–much before his brand became accepted by the people. – “ There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness.” Poe’s strange brands history would be–and is–widely revered and accepted in today’s climate. We crave originality as consumers. We want what stands out! Though, the balance warning comes into play here. Including the unconventional in our brand storytelling should still remain on-brand. Yes, bring about the brand story ideas that make your brand and story special. But don’t make it so incongruent with your brand that it throws off the balance. Ensure you are driving the right audience to your products and mission. Are you worried? Don't be, just pay attention to what you’ve read thus far and take special note of these points:
- Procedural Memory: accomplished through relevance and repetition, it’s the way your brand becomes automatically remembered.
- Symbolic Thought: linking the unknown to the known to create a meaningful brand and brandstory.
- Particle Conflict: adding an element that doesn't belong, but still fits. It’s a way to make your brand interesting.
By covering these areas when creating a brand story, you’re more likely to have a strong brand. Without considering all that goes into the brand build, you’ll surely end up with weak and puny little bland. But you should have figured out after reading this, that a lot more goes into building a successful brand. Much more than simply sprinkling your uniqueness throughout. So, if you need help in all that is marketing and branding, telling your brands history and creating your company’s success, then book a call with the brand masters themselves, Wizard of Ads™.