The Biggest Hurdle to Overcome In Your Brand Building Efforts: Reality

Marketers are understandably concerned about building and protecting strong brands. An Economist article from last year discusses the power of brands.  “Brands account for more than 30% of the stock market value of companies in the S&P 500 index, reckons Millward Brown, a market-research company. Everyone knows that a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt costs more than a polo shirt; Coke without the logo is just cola.”

But, brand-building efforts are sometimes misguided–focused more on the trappings of the brand (e.g. logos, colors, taglines, key messages and advertising executions) than what really matters: who are you really?

A poor product or service cannot become a powerful brand. It simply won’t happen. 

We need only take a look at Interbrand’s annual report of top brands to see the truth in this statement. Several well-known brands topped the list in 2014: Apple, Google, Coca-Cola and Microsoft.

It is not uncommon for organizations to lament their lack of success in standing out successfully from competitors. Many conduct extensive research to see how they stack up and, when there’s a gap in their competitor’s favor, they can be quick to point to the trappings of their brand, rather than the reality behind the brand.

“We need a new ad campaign!” “We need to get out there on more social media campaigns.” “We need a new logo.”

And, they may spend a lot of time and effort investing in those trappings only to be disheartened once again when the next cycle of marketing research is unveiled.

Some years ago I was fortunate to work for a very strong healthcare brand that, year after year, demonstrated its strong brand position relative to competitors. I used to wonder whether the competition was doing the same type of research (I’m sure that they were…) and how they were responding to the results. Often it seemed that their response was focused on creating more ads, running more ads and holding more community events. Unfortunately, those efforts only work when there is truth behind the claims.

Brands aren’t built on advertising campaigns. Brands are built on reality, and they are supported by advertising campaigns.

That’s a very important distinction.

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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