Thursday, December 18, 2008

Advertisement v/s Branding

Getting ones brand to work harder, to ensure that it makes its proper mark, isn’t just about spending money on promoting and engaging funds on campaigns or Advertisements to say. Indeed, money may be the least of one’s problems. Getting brands to work on small budgets is more than possible; it is the norm. Good branding takes a lot of good thinking. This is not to say that brands should be managed by intellectuals, or that we should allow the jargon-spouting budding brand mangers spin their hats figuring out how to play with a product to eventually promote it as a brand. Brand management certainly engages the brain but it doesn’t disengage common sense, nor does it stop us from using everyday language.
There is no concept as vital, as discussed, as mentioned, as of the moment in the world of marketing and advertising today as Branding. Everyone uses the word in every conversation, there are countless self-proclaimed experts on the subject, executives want it, account managers plan it, strategies are formulated, money is spent, and advertising is done. But the fact is, very few people actually know what the word Branding really means in this context.
We interchangeably use advertisement for branding. While there are many similarities in lucid terms between both the terms there is huge difference between the two. Advertisement in simple words is a tool used for branding products or services. I here strive to find out the similarities and the differences between the two terms – Advertisement and Branding.

Getting Started....

The fundamental law of Marketing is the “Law of Leadership”. It is better to be first than to be better. Microsoft launched in ’81 while Apple launched in ’84. Apple is better in hardware, software and other areas but has only 27% share while Microsoft has 73% share. In spite of this, every company focuses on being better. If first is perceived to be the best, then automatically the company will attract good people, good distributors and so on. The key is to create the perception in the mind that being first means being the best. This is what essentially branding does. It creates a perception in the consumer minds.

What is Branding?

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers. Therefore it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting ones target market to choose one over the competition, but it is about getting ones prospects to see one as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.

Branding is a complex process, but its goal is simple: It is the creation and development of a specific identity for a company, product, commodity, group, or person. It is carefully designed to present qualities that its creators believe will be attractive to the public, and it is meant to be developed and perpetuated for the long haul. An ad campaign launches a product. Branding, when it’s done right, creates an institution. Branding brings about so many benefits that, “You can count the number of seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the number of apples in a seed.”

Perhaps the best way to illustrate the concept of Branding is to explore the new car market. Everyone knows instinctively the difference between a Chevrolet and a BMW. And it’s not just a matter of price: Consumers who are asked about cars will describe a Chevy as reliable and comfortable, while a BMW will be described as exciting, luxurious, and brilliantly engineered.

We know the personality of a BMW or a Chevy (or for that matter, a Volkswagen, Ford, Kia, or Hyundai) without necessarily being able to articulate it.

We make presumptions about a person who gets out of a car in the parking lot based on what kind of car it may be. And even though some of these identities may have gotten a little diluted over the years, we know what the nameplate on the back of the car means when it reads Audi or Toyota or Mitsubishi. There’s a difference between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. There’s a difference between CBS and Fox. There’s a difference between Star Trek and Star Wars. All of these are successful brand names, and they each have a distinctive personality, which may defy definition, but is easily understood by the public at large. Examine the decades-long competition between Coca-Cola and Pepsi: On the surface, these two companies’ products seem interchangeable. But more effort and money have gone into creating differences between the personalities of the brands than into differences in the products themselves.
So a brand is an end result. Branding is the process by which a brand comes to be. If we broadly examine then we come across three important components of Branding:
  1. Marketing
  2. Communication
  3. Public Relations

Marketing is the invisible component, Communication is the visible component and Public Relation is the differentiating component. An effective and well thought branding exercise can/will do wonders for the company. It can benefit the company in one or the many ways

  • Delivers the message clearly
  • Confirms your credibility
  • Connects your target prospects emotionally
  • Motivates the buyer
  • Concretes User Loyalty

Elements of Brand Building:
The four steps represent a set of fundamental questions that a customer invariably asks about brands:

  • Who are you? (Brand Identity)
  • What are you? (Brand Meaning)
  • What about you? What do I think of you? (Brand Response)
  • What kind of association would I like to have with you? (Brand Relationship)

Performing the four steps to achieve the connotation is a difficult and complicated process. Now that we have had a look at Branding lets us look at Advertising to get a clear picture of it too.

What is advertising?

In today’s business climate, even the most secure brands need to advertise. As it sells its billions and billions of hamburgers, McDonald’s doesn’t cut back on its ads; it increases them. Nike is well known for spending millions on celebrity endorsements for advertising. Its ads are legendary, and its “swoosh” logo is known the world over without a word being said. How to present that identity—to introduce the public to the personality of the product—is advertising’s job, in conjunction with public relations.

The look of a television or print ad is as important as the message being delivered in print or dialogue. Quick edits, bright colors, extreme close-ups, and changing landscapes may appeal more to younger viewers, and will convey a different personality than golden sunsets, slow camera pans, and traditional storytelling. Sound, too, will change with the kind of brand being developed. But advertising isn’t just about creating TV commercials it is “The medium is the message.” The programs during which the ad can be seen will make a statement about the personality of the product, as will the choice of publications in which print ads will run.

Very rightly Stephen Leacock, humorist and educator, took a cynical view of advertising:
“Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it."

What advertisement does?

Advertising doesn’t create the identity, but it does choose how to present the identity, and it certainly helps define the identity of the product, and, by extension, its users. With a clever choice like that made for the Mentos ads, it expresses the advertiser’s message very well. But ads can’t do the job alone and they can’t determine what the image should be. That part of the process is accomplished through Branding.

The aim of advertising is not to state the facts about a product but to sell a solution or a dream. Advertising is about igniting customers’ aspirations. This is what Ferrari, Tiffany, Gucci, and Ferragamo do. A Ferrari automobile delivers on three dreams: social recognition, freedom, and heroism. Revlon founder Charles Revson once remarked: “In our factory, we make lipstick. In our advertising, we sell hope. Ads primarily create product awareness, sometimes product knowledge, less often product preference, and more rarely, product purchase. That’s why advertising cannot do the job alone.

The subtle difference between Advertising and Branding

(Click image for an enlarged view)

Practical examples:

Branding is a holistic approach and does not limit itself to product knowledge or awareness. For example: Crest toothpaste is a brand that stands for cavity prevention. Some line extensions have breath freshening and/or whitening agents, too, but Crest is really all about cavity prevention. That's the brand image positioned effectively in the consumer’s mind.

IBM and Dell have done a reasonable job of escalating their product advertising to a brand level. IBM introduced the ThinkPad (that helps one think smarter) and Dell configures computers the way you want them, and it provides great service after the sale. Those are brand positioning.

In the past two decades, Apple Inc. has become appreciated for the artistic and free-thinking messages of its advertisements, which reflect a business plan of marketing their products to creative individuals. Their most significant ad campaigns include a 1984 Super Bowl commercial, which introduced their company as revolutionary, independent, and subversive, as well as the 1990s “Think Different” campaign, which featured major artists, and the "iPod people" of the 2000s, featuring several colorful, dancing silhouetted people. Apple's sensational portable music player, the iPod, has even been showcased as a piece of contemporary art in New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Since the original Macintosh Super Bowl commercial in 1984, which mimicked imagery from George Orwell's 1984, (it was a product launch ad (Macintosh) with no product; it was all about generating a position (and excitement) for the Apple brand. Amazingly, while the ad was shown only once as a paid spot during the Super bowl, it got hundreds of replays on the evening news this is the power of Branding and what the paid advertisement could not achieve the branding element in the ads did) Apple has maintained a style of homage to contemporary visual art in many of its more famous ad campaigns.

When Steve Jobs first returned to Apple in '97, he quickly brought in Lee Clow of Chiat/Day to create a campaign that could stop the bleeding of a hemorrhaging brand. The "Think Different" campaign wasn't about a specific Apple product--it was a campaign designed to associate Apple with great thinkers, inventors, and creative people. It was "selling" the idea that people who used Apple computers were a select few--different, but in a good way.

How could one forget the Absolut Vodka’s branding exercise? Absolut branded ‘spelling error’. One of the print ads stated “Where will they hide the famous bottle? Absolut has also branded the shape of its bottle. Each print ad featured one or the other variety of vodka, the kind of connections it could establish with the famous names of places is still remembered and cherished.. So it’s variants are Rasberri, Vanilia, Kurant and so on.Even though the Swedish are not known for wines, the branding campaign of Absolut Vodka made it the 3rd largest selling brand in America. People who did not drink alcohol also bought the vodka just to satisfy the desire that the campaign created.

As even when Louis Vuitton was renovating its store in Paris. To do that it created a façade in the shape of its luggage bags and accessories. The people remembered the façade. In fact they identified with it to the extent that when it was going to be pulled down after 2 years when the renovation was complete there was a demonstration outside the store. This is the image branding put is the consumers mind that even if things change they remember the brand.

This is what Nike has done; today Nike does not puts its name on most of its products but just the “swoosh” sign. That itself is the name, brand, guarantor of the brand and its image. In all its advertisements Nike uses sports personnel who are very rebellious in nature, they all are the best in their games but are all known for their notorious activities but it uses them in all of their shows and advertisement campaigns. The “Just do it” tag of Nike is the resemblance of the identity and image it carries, this also gets reflected in their ad.

To end...

Marketers engaged in branding seek to develop or align the expectations behind the brand experience, creating the impression that a brand associated with a product or service has certain qualities or characteristics that make it special or unique. A brand image may be developed by attributing a "personality" to or associating an "image" with a product or service, whereby the personality or image is "branded" into the consciousness of consumers. A brand is therefore one of the most valuable elements in an advertising theme. The art of creating and maintaining a brand is called brand management.

A brand which is widely known in the marketplace acquires brand recognition. When brand recognition builds up to a point where a brand enjoys a critical mass of positive sentiment in the marketplace, it is said to have achieved brand franchise. In non-commercial contexts, the marketing of entities which supply ideas or promises rather than product and services (e.g. political parties or religious organizations) may also be known as "branding". As a brand manager one needs to look at the holistic view of the image, identity, personality the brand wants to convey. This has to be effectively portrayed and shown in all communication of the product or service, all Public Relationship efforts. While for short term excitement by virtue of Advertisements is good but the brand must never be forgotten. Advertisement is a tool and it should always incorporate the brand element in it, in all form of communication print, voice, visual etc. The subtle differences should never be neglected and should always be looked as a long term strategy.