Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Branding Myth

What I mean by the inanities and insanities of marketing will emerge over time. While I don't have a manifesto, this piece I wrote in the Financial Times in 2004 is a good starting point and one with which I still largely concur. I called it The Branding Myth.

"The key point is that branding should never have become a verb! Indeed the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t recognise it as such. Brand was a collective term for a group of products produced by one company. Branding, on the other hand, emerged into broader business parlance as a result of the eighties’ obsession with putting intangible assets like brand equity onto the balance sheet for the purposes of financial engineering. Advertising practitioners saw a golden goose.

Therein lies the branding myth – it is not faux emotional associations that consumers want. It is whatever a product actually delivers that generates real emotional attachments. This originates not just from its functionality but also in terms of packaging, delivery and convenience. Despite what many gurus aver, it is not true to suggest that the vast majority of products/services are actually satisfactory and thus interchangeable.

Branding hype is not what people want. They want results. Furthermore, this is exacerbated by the frequent denuding of the alleged added value of premium brands by dint of

i) a slowness of premium companies to adapt to technical or style innovations;

ii) consumer cynicism towards irrelevant brand extension where companies sought to exploit their brand by stretching its "equity” into other areas; and

iii) the proliferation of premium products (or fake copies thereof) amongst individuals or societal groups that other consumers deem unworthy of respect.

Advertising/promotion – in whatever form it takes – is only a small albeit expensive part of marketing. Branding tried and continues to try to deny that. That’s why it’s dying."

4 Comments:

Blogger marin_explorer said...

Branding hype is not what people want.

Yes, why should the average consumer care about brand? When branding is pushed so far as to produce a disconnect between tangible product benefits and claims, it correctly invites cynicism. By now, consumers are all too aware of ordinary products that are "branded" soley for targeting a higher msrp. The product should drive the brand and not the other way around.

As a marketing designer, I've found branding has often become the dominant strategy, often superceding the real qualities of individual products. In some ways it reminds me of soviet propoganda, where the "brand" was obvious, actual benefits less so.

11:06 AM, November 27, 2006  
Anonymous Rasul Sha'ir said...

Even though you wrote this a while ago. . . agreed, agreed and agreed. What so many people fail to understand is that branding is more than slapping together a logo or a tagline (or any other other superficial act). A brand needs to be built. A powerful brand is products and/or services that serve a need or want in the market. And you take it to the next level when its done with integrity. As one of Seth Godin's recent posts (as I am sure you are familiar with) when he talks about what you stand for. Looking forward to more of your stuff!

10:03 AM, October 07, 2008  
Blogger Lerata said...

The is only one thing that you should know about branding is that for one to be remembered cleadly and fully one should have a stronger brand out of the crew.


Lerata

2:27 AM, March 14, 2009  
Anonymous Gordon said...

Oooh! Seems that there is a bit of spam here. Couldn't agree more with the stance of this article. There's a continuum with product at one end and nothing (brand) at the other. In recent years, the pendulum has swung over too far to the nothing end. And, guess what, it's not that easy to make a truly delicious sandwich time and time again. It's a bit like "management": who the hell is making anything any more?

4:59 PM, July 23, 2009  

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