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Brand Positioning: How Many Brands Are Too Many?

For companies looking to successfully achieve positive brand positioning, a good rule of thumb is “the fewer brands a company has, the better.”

Without discipline, brands tend to proliferate because as new products or services are developed, it is natural to want a unique name, logo and story to rally behind. In some cases, this leads to confusion, with too many brands for customers to distinguish.

The more brands you have, the more expensive it is to keep those promises distinct and relevant in your audiences’ mind.

Do you want to improve your branding and corporate identity efforts? Marshall Strategy has a proven track record of making a difference for our clients. Make a business inquiry today to find out how Marshall Strategy can do for you. Find out what we’re doing in the social world by “Liking” us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and subscribing to our YouTube channel. Also, find us on LinkedIn and follow our blog for more useful industry information.

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Branding vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between branding vs. advertising campaigns? And, is it smart to have both a brand agency and an advertising agency for your business?

Do you want to improve your branding and corporate identity efforts? Marshall Strategy has a proven track record of making a difference for our clients. Make a business inquiry today to find out how Marshall Strategy can do for you. Find out what we’re doing in the social world by “Liking” us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and subscribing to our YouTube channel. Also, find us on LinkedIn and follow our blog for more useful industry information.

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Brand Identity Personality Should be Behavior-Based

Brand Identity PersonalityBrand Identity Personality
Last year’s loss of Steve Jobs was a real-world test of the effect an iconic personality can have on a brand’s identity. Many people wondered if the Apple brand would be as valuable without him. There is already strong evidence that Apple’s strong organizational culture and focus on insanely great products will continue after Steve. If Apple can stay true to its promises, it remains a valuable brand, vs. a brand dependent on one man’s personality.

It’s not unusual for an emerging company’s brand identity to be connected to a charismatic or visionary leader. Tony Hsieh with Zappos, Jeff Bezos with Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook, and Richard Branson with Virgin are all great examples of such brands. The real challenge for a brand, however, is to be recognizable, relevant and meaningful over time regardless of who is in charge.  Corporate identity should be built through shared organizational philosophy, not solely on a leader’s personality.

For a brand to survive in the long term, its leaders must embody the values of the company, not the other way around. Any company whose identity is linked solely to an individual should move away from being a personality-driven brand and move toward being a behavior-driven brand. Behavior-driven brands reflect how the company, its product, and its people, fulfill their promises. These behaviors can be inspired, or introduced by a strong leader, but must also be deeply embedded within the culture of the company to be sustainable over time.

Many companies have proven that they are fully capable of maintaining a strong brand without always having high-visibility leadership. Richard Branson is instilling sustainable differentiation for the Virgin Brand—building the “Virgin Experience” into a variety of existing products and services.  Nike adopted 11 core principles based on the vision and leadership of Bill Bowerman, but not dependent on his personal stewardship. As a result, both brands are associated with delivery of a clear promise, and not solely with the constant public presence of their founders.

Brands achieve greatness when people—customers, employees, and investors alike—feel an affinity to the product and want to be associated with it – not just with its founder or leader.  Companies with highly-visible leaders need to clearly show that the company as a whole embraces a singular vision, and doesn’t just rely on the cult of one personality.

Marshall Strategy

Do you want to improve your branding and corporate identity efforts? Marshall Strategy has a proven track record of making a difference for our clients. Make a business inquiry today to find out how Marshall Strategy can do for you. Find out what we’re doing in the social world by “Liking” us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and subscribing to our YouTube channel. Also, find us on LinkedIn and follow our blog for more useful industry information.

 

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Political Campaigns – A Lesson in Brand Management

The Republican presidential primaries and debates have been fascinating, if not whiplash-inducing, to follow. The candidates continue to float on the winds of public opinion rather than their own personal convictions and vision. On any topic, they appear more interested in setting themselves apart from the competition than in having firm positions that constituents can rally behind. Focus groups form politicians’ positions on issues, instead of politicians working to help constituents understand and value what they really stand for. The absence of a clear frontrunner so far is evidence that candidates are failing to define what they stand for and that they lack resonance with the American electorate.

Politics & Brand Management

The word “politician” has taken on negative connotations; it is more and more likely to define a person who will say or do anything to get elected.  There are plenty of politicians in the world, and it seems few are irreplaceable. Brands should not fall into the same trap. To be effective in the marketplace, a brand must clearly communicate what it represents and what it aspires to become, and then deliver on that promise to its customers. The opposite approach – building a brand based exclusively on customer opinion or desired image – is a recipe for failure, as the brand in the end will lack identity, and will likely be forgotten when the next new product comes along. The more effectively a brand communicates and delivers on its promise, the more likely customer experience and feedback will reinforce the brand’s position.

The Walt Disney Corporation stands as a perfect example of brand conviction and purpose. Despite the ups and downs of the entertainment industry and economy, the brand has never strayed from its promise to deliver high-quality, family-oriented entertainment in a variety of formats. As a result, consumers know what to expect from a Walt Disney product when it is released without questioning its authenticity, quality, or content.

To be considered a true political leader, a candidate must have and communicate a vision; an authentic theme that voters can focus on and associate with that person. The same is true of a brand.  Without clear vision and promise, a candidate becomes a politician, and a brand becomes a commodity. Both will recede from relevance when the next new “thing” comes along.

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