Brandmaster’s Weblog

Thoughts and ideas on branding and brand development in a digital world.

YouGov BrandIndex predicts HMV ‘bounce b

YouGov BrandIndex predicts HMV ‘bounce back’ | The Drum http://ow.ly/AQNPm

“How Inspired Branding Built the Royal

“How Inspired Branding Built the Royal Family” by @RichGuha http://ow.ly/AOoqi

Do I know you? How brands use your expectations to open you up.

The Rolls RazorWhenever you encounter a familiar brand your expectations are triggered, based upon your past experience. Your subsequent encounter is not fresh and objective but is directed by your previous understanding. Two levels of processing are involved here – ‘bottom up’ processing, the product of this individual episode and the information the brand is communicating, and ‘top-down’ processing based upon your expectations and prior experience. This latter processing operates at an emotional level and is all the more powerful for that.

This top-down processing need  not be based upon direct experience – it can be hi-jacked by similar, if inaccurate memories.  Unscrupulous brand owners use such tactics as using similar sounding names, colour schemes or logos to those of famous brands – those this is merely passing off and rarely lasts beyond the first purchase. Then it is replaced by disappointment and anger.

However, a legitimate and useful tactics for new brands is often to adopt a brand name that ‘sounds right’ – something that triggers expectations at a deeper level and predisposes the acceptance of the ‘bottom-up’ experience.

National characteristics are quite often a start for this. Lagers may choose a Scandinavian sounding name for example. It is a short cut to priming our presumptions. Many mens’ toiletries brands string together a pair of upper-class English sounding names – ‘Mountjoy and French’ or ‘Fairfax and Jarvis’. Fashion brands take a quick shortcut by selecting an Italian, French or British name, depending upon their selected brand positioning.

The name sounds like something we know – something we can understand and our memory brings a whole host of assumptions. A teacher friend of mine had great problems choosing names for her children, because so many names brought a lot of emotional baggage from experiences with children she had taught at some time.

This is fairly basic stuff, and not particularly sophisticated, the important point is to understand what is happening in the mind of the customer. In whatever experiential situation we find ourselves the mind tries to make sense of it. We never truly come with a blank slate. Cognitive processing is powerfully directed by what we expect to experience as much as inputs from the situation.

Brand communication must understand and utilise these fast first impressions and emotions incorporated in them. By the time the declarative knowledge has been imparted, processed and absorbed, the internal emotional expectations are deeply impressed.

Inventing A Brand Name To Avoid Embarras

Inventing A Brand Name To Avoid Embarrassment : @StickyBranding http://ow.ly/A0RJH

What Darwin can teach us about branding.

DarwinMention ‘Darwin’ and ‘Branding’ in the same sentence and people immediately jump to the conclusion we are talking about that (usually misunderstood) concept of ‘Survival of the fittest.’

The root of the Darwinian view of evolution was far more fundamental and can provide a valuable perspective when looking at brands and how they too evolve. It was a bottom-up rather than a top-down concept. Instead of lifeforms evolving according to some pre-conceived plan, Darwin proposed that their development was the result of small changes and mutations – some were successful and led to the prospering of the organism – others, which failed to improve outcomes were bred out by natural selection.

With brands we sometimes overestimate the importance of control and brand-management. A good deal of what makes brands special comes out of natural evolution – doing small things very well, keeping and building upon the successful and eliminating anything which does not contribute to the viability of the brand.

It is the tiny details that matter. Small product benefits, notable customer service actions, minute points where expectations are exceeded.

Changes do not happen in isolation, they are relative to the environment. We talk about organisms evolving and adapting to their environment – brands must do the same. Change is constant.

Many of the great brands we all admire existed long before the heavy hand of brand management was there to direct them – and they evolved and adapted as clever and able people in all parts of the organisation did their jobs very well, getting better in small ways all the time. We have also noted the dinosaurs who failed or were unable to adapt to the changing environment.

If there is a lesson to be learned it is that concentrating on the details of the small things that brand does – and doing them well – improving the basics is vital. Allow the brand to change as the needs of customers evolve and develop, and apply only a light touch to the steering of management.

Let Me Tell You Why You Bought This! htt

Let Me Tell You Why You Bought This! http://ow.ly/y7Gdx

Using Semiotics to Build Memorable Brand

Using Semiotics to Build Memorable Brand Experiences http://ow.ly/xPffE

Wally Olins, the man who rebranded Briti

Wally Olins, the man who rebranded British Telecom as BT, dies aged 83 | Media | theguardian.com http://ow.ly/vQoJk

Brands Need to Stop Trying to Play Hero

Brands Need to Stop Trying to Play Hero | Adweek http://ow.ly/vQoxV

Brands must have walls, windows and doors

Walls, Windows andLet’s think of a brand as a fine building with walls, windows and doors.  These are the essential and useful features of any building. Properly constructed and used a building is sound, welcoming and vibrant, but care must be taken in the use of those same features to ensure that it doesn’t become a fortress, or worse, a prison.

WALLS

A brand’s walls define what it is, its scope and boundaries. Walls people understand a brand in terms of what it does and what it doesn’t do. This clarity is as important for those working on the brand  as it is for the public outside. As well as separating the brand, walls also connect – they are the touch points where the public contact the brand.

The danger is that walls can become fortifications. The brand can feel too safe and secure behind them and avoid contact with the challenging world outside. The walls can grow too high and the brand can no longer see out and understand what is happening outside.

WINDOWS

Fortunately brands also have windows. Through the windows the public can see into the brand and understand it. These are the communications conduits – advertising, press and public relations, digital and social media windows. It’s through these windows that the brand can speak, shout, wave and smile.

Windows work both ways – not only should the world be able to look in on the brand, but the brand can observe, understand and take note of the world it inhabits. These are the windows of customer service, and research – where the brand watches and listens.

Brands can choose how big to make their windows and how many. Plenty of big windows shed a lot of light into the brand and not all brand stewards like this. When problems occur its all to easy to start drawing the curtains.

But windows are useful for communication – you can see, show and demonstrate, but there is always that pane of glass between the brand and the public. To genuinely engage we need doors.

DOORS

Doors are where people actively connect with the brand. They are the points where the public purchases products and services, where the become emotionally involved. These are the gateways where the brand comes forth and meets its people – but more importantly, where it allows the world in – not just to observe but to connect. Doorways are where we place our welcome mats.

All three elements are equally important for a sound and effective brand:

Walls define the purpose, borders and remit of the brand, showing both public and staff where the brand stands.

Windows are vital for communications – transparency is the key.

Doors are where the public and the brand meet – not where people are locked out.

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