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Branding: An Important Marketing Tool!

Posted on Sunday 22nd of June 2014 by Manish Khanna

One of the most easily overlooked marketing tools for businesses is ‘branding’. If done properly it can be worth the business’ weight in gold in advertising. If done poorly it can take a long time to overcome. Branding needs to be carefully thought out to be both reflective of the company’s essence and long lasting. Branding should also be unique to the business, product or service that it is representing.

When conceiving a branding campaign for a business, product or service it is vital to look at what the actual business, product or service is. It can be quite expensive to try and rebrand something once the wrong branding has been released to the public. A branding campaign should make the consumer think of the company when they see it; not leave them guessing. Too many commercials or ads seem to either not reflect the company, product or service branding and are unclear as to what the actual ad is for. This is marketing money wasted. Here are a few examples of advertisements that have missed the mark:

•Skittles Candy

Their new TV advertisements with people sweating skittles or having skittles for teeth that other people walk up and eat may make you remember their name. But, they are repulsive. Instead of branding themselves as something sweet and enticing, these commercials have branded into the consumers mind the image of bodily functions; not an appetizing thought. On the positive side these advertisements did promote social media discussions and tons of free publicity. On the negative side it also promoted sites such as “Market Me Not” to create a conversation stream discussing the “offensiveness” of these ads. 115 consumers weighted in on the topic giving the commercials only 3 stars out of 5 and average rating of 2.93. With the amount of money spent on this marketing campaign, those numbers are not indicative of a positive return. This was not even Skittle’s biggest advertising snafu. U.S. Data Corporation listed Skittle’s 2008 advertising campaign at number 14 in their article “15 Worst Marketing Blunders”, stating that the negative undertones in the dialog of the 2008 “Midas Touch” commercials where a man turns everything he touches into Skittles over shadowed the playful attempt of the commercials and they failed.

•Groupon

This U.S. based eCommerce Company that offers cut rate promotions on pretty much anything and everything’s Super Bowl XLV (American Football), was a disaster. Companies pay millions of dollars for the prestigious advertising spots in the Super

Bowl, so it is expected that those advertisements will provide a high return on investment. Instead this advertisement barely touched on the Groupon brand and commercialized an already explosive social issue of Tibet’s human rights abuses from China. It had no positive branding outcome and only came across as mocking a bad situation. Had this ad been done differently it could have shown a softer side to Groupon and made them appear as an organization that promotes and supports world justice.

•Spearmint Rhino Melbourne

This well-known strip club chain attempted to use social media to promote their dancers by running a Facebook “Guess Who This Is” campaign. Unfortunately, they did not double check the date stamp on the image they posted of an infant. The date stamp indicates that the dancer is only 15. This is not the kind of advertising a strip club wants, and the viewers had lots to say about it.

•Burger King

This popular food chains attempt to brand themselves with a mascot did not work out so well when the mascot they chose was found to be creepy and unappealing by the public. The oversized head king made consumers cringe versus giving them a warm and fuzzy feel. It is always a good idea to do a control panel of any type of potential mascot before throwing the whole marketing budget towards an idea.

•Quiznos

This sandwich chain is another company that missed the mark when trying to establish a mascot. Their bad marketing campaigns of things like “Spongemonkeys” that are actually grotesque singing rodents that are much more annoying than cute, have led to the franchise having the steepest decline in sales in the industry, as well as multiple lawsuits from the franchisees.

These advertisements are only a few of the prime examples of companies that didn’t think through the branding process completely before moving forward with their ads and some of the consequences that can arise from such short sightedness.

Another issue that seems to be emerging with new company or rebranding is longevity. Trendy or flashy time sensitive material will limit the usefulness of the brand. If it is too trendy it will appear old and obsolete once the trend passes. Steer clear of color schemes that could easily fade into a past era, like the avocado kitchens of the 60’s and 70’s, unless of course the business is a retro based business. The wireless telecommunications provider Cricket successfully used a bright green sofa in their ad campaign while they were expanding their coverage across the U.S., Mexico and Canada. However, they were successful because the entire campaign blended and linked together in a cohesive manner. McDonald’s has recently tried to do this same thing with their “Red Couch” ad campaign. McDonald’s ads have been significantly less successful since they make no since and have no connection to their product. This is a perfect example of how one strategy does not work for everybody.

One of the best examples of good branding is Coca-Cola. Even with hundreds of competitors in the soda market, Coke has branded themselves so well that it is a household name used by many to reference soda in general. Coca-Cola’s deep connection to family roots and values creates a home spun feel of happiness that gives consumers a sense of nostalgia when they purchase a coke. Although Coca-Cola has experimented with changing their logo or formula over the years to displeased consumers, they have found that it is best not to mess with a good thing.

A few other positive branding marketing campaigns are:

•McDonald’s Golden Arches

Although the look of this fast food chain has changed over the years, it doesn’t matter where in the world a consumer goes they will know that the golden arches means McDonald’s and what to expect. It is fast, typically reasonably priced, and fam

iliar.

•NetFlix Movie Rentals

This mail-in and on-demand movie rental company is best known for their flat red envelops. They not only changed the movie rental industry, but their logo and envelopes are familiar and recognizable to pretty much any household.

•Jell-O Brand

This gelatin based company has created a wholesome image that represents their company values and makes them a household name.

When branding a company, product or service the brand should reflect the company beliefs and values. This will create a bond with consumers that instill trust and loyalty. That is why it is very important to have a full grasp of what the company values and mission are. It is difficult to portray something that is not clear to the company itself.

Once the company mission and values are clear and the branding established it is vital that staff and associates provide that level of service or product. There has to be something behind the branding to support what is being said. If a company is promoting a brand that says they provide great customer service and then a customer comes in only to be treated with utter disregard, the branding has been completely under minded. Worse is that this experience has not just affected the customer’s view of that one location, but every location linked to that brand. This is why it is vital that the brand is supported by follow through.

Branding can be a company’s best spent or worst spent money depending on how thought out it is. When branding make sure to fully understand the company’s values, business and customer base. Think about where the company is going in order to provide longevity to the brand as well as stay on track with company goals. Double check facts about potential branding options to make sure there is not a negative connotation to it and consumer test mascots before rolling them out full force. There is no sure fire branding model since the buying public is fickle. But, if these things are done the chances for a successful branding campaign are significantly higher.